|Having been a reasonably satisfied Dell user for many years... I would naturally expect to favour the Dell Inspiron or Latitude series (not using the Celeron though...); not the least when going for a laptop (although some IBM did enter the frame too in early thoughts...).|
Incidentally one site (I have the link somewhere) advises that Dell and IBM frequently use the same Mobo in a laptop... And since Dell frequently uses IBM drives... is there much difference between the two makes (in terms of laptops); possibly they use the same tft display too???
However, at work, we used Acer for several years in a busy broadcast environment; they "never" failed us. Any problems we did have were due to user's installing junk etc.; the actual laptops were very reliable.
I checked out Dell and Acer; bought an Acer (Aspire 1692wlmi). My niece has had the Aspire 1680 series equivalent model for a year; rock solid.
A friend bought a Dell Inspiron late last fall. It had a new tft within the first month; a replacement drive within six weeks ((Dell sent the drive and she installed it with their help over the phone!!!).
On all laptops, it is important to keep the air vents clear... Early Dell 5000 series overheated...; partially due to less than adequate design of air-flow and overall cooling; partially due to dust clogging up the air ways... Users various at that time did advise regularly cleaning out the laptop air-ways...; many finding them almost solid with accumulated dust... The problem has been resolve by all accounts on later models and subsequent series...? Wise nonetheless to be aware of this issue for any laptop?
The Acer (at least the Apsire 1900 series) do not appear to run hot; the cooling fan kicks in as need-be - and isn't very noticeable (you can hear it in a quiet environment - but only just...). Mind you the power adapter (an in-line unit) does seem to get a little warm... Can't comment on the Dell equivalent.
Battery life on the Acer is not fantastic, but then neither is it for the Dell equivalent. Some Dell models allow a second battery in place of a removeable CD/DVD unit - though not on all?
With an Acer you get more for your money in terms of bundled utils; whilst frequently kit arrives overloaded with useless items..., some of the A-V/Media etc. utils, as supplied by Acer, are very user-friendly - especially for anyone not really into the technology/utils proper - just want to use it for standard routines). The bundled Anti-virus can be dumped in favour of other better (at least in my experience) freebie or reasonably priced utils... I favour Avast at present (avast.com).
Acer ship their systems with an 80Gig (or larger?) drive partitioned in to two drives; C: for OS etc.; D: for ???? use - data obviously. Acer loads XP-Home (usually), whereas Dell loads either Home or Pro (with an additional charge for the latter). Dell do a lot of deals - buy it now upgrades etc... Acer may/may not have the saimilar around from whichever dealer?
Both Dell/Acer do not privide full version XP etc. CDs... I think Dell issue you a recovery set of CDs etc; probably a small Dell critically related "hidden" partition at the start of hard-drive too. Acer may/may not provide similar CDs; but I think usually send it to you configured with a nag-screen telling you to make your own recovery CD/DVD as soon as you power up etc. - mine arrived that way and I made the disks accordingly...
Dell support appears to be anywhere but N.Am or Eire (for Europe); usually in India??? Not sure where Acer equivalent is for N.Am; but for UK etc. I think they have a European base...?
The audio quality of laptops does often leave a litle to be desire. The Acer is "OK" via decent headphones; barely acceptable on its speakers; probably OK via the line-out to an external amp etc... Dell I think are slightly better on the built-in speakers - but otherwise no different to the Acer overall?
Incidentally the Acer Aspire (1690 series) does get generally good to excellent reviews overall...
Hope my comments (a little long I know) are some help; strictly based on my own and family member's experiences.
In the end it will come down to how much you want to spend; what gives you the most or the best (not always compatible...) for your bucks...? But I would favour Acer (Aspire 1690 series) at present.