The hinge mounting points on the the Inspiron 5548 ripped out of the plastic mounting points and now the shell of the laptop is torn open whenever the laptop is opened. In addition, the hinge failure caused the wireless antenna wires to sever at the clip points on to the wireless card.
I am a IT professor and teach laptop repair. Since it is out of warranty, I did a exploratory disassembly and saw the exact cause of the failure:
1) The hinge assemble requires TOO MUCH FORCE to rotate the hinge thus putting excessive force on the mounting screws into the plastic of the shell.
2) The metal grommets embedded in the plastic of the shell began to shift until the plastic cracked and all three mounting points failed where they are attached to the shell. THE STRUCTURE is TOO WEAK.
The fact that your support tech could immediately tell me the repair cost for this problem tells me it is very common. $150 and a three month warranty is not a repair I have confidence upon.
I am deeply disappointed that Dell will not step up and admit that this line of computers has a design flaw. It took me less five minutes to identify many, many internet hits describing the EXACT problem this laptop is suffering.
The 5547 and 5548 share the exact same parts for the hinge and palm rest.