XPS are great laptops. We bought a Inspiron 1521 late last year and it has been bullet proof. Dell also ships a recovery CD with the system, whereas HP and other make you burn your own. If you get Vista on it, aim for at least Premium and a min of 2 gb of RAM. same for any system though (other than maybe linux). More ram is better and it is pretty cheap. We have Vista and it works perfectly fine, since the machine was designed for it.