We identify devices by sysobjectid, which for new or exotic devices may not be in our DB. Check out this KB: http://knowledgebase.solarwinds.com/kb/questions/3535/SolarWinds+shows+my+device+vendor+as+%22Unknown%22.+How+do+I+get+SolarWinds+Orion+to+recognize+my+device+and+device+vendor%3F
Also NPM 11.5 introduces new "Node Details" poller (Settings->Manage Pollers) that can manually map vendor / OS / etc to sysoid.
Do you poll the nodes with ICMP or SNMP?
NPM should not have problem getting most vendors and machine type with Snmp polling.
I have not thought about this but I will certainly check to see what protocol we are using.