Personal Computers

Dell Adds Big Brother to XPS Laptop Line

Dell’s high-end laptop lineup just picked up a new brother — the XPSM1530, a 15.4-inch notebook complete with webcam, fingerprint reader andtouch-sensitive multi-media buttons, not to mention the stylish designfound in Dell’s previously released M1330 13.3-inch notebook.

While theM1530 is certainly larger than the M1330, it’s not exactly aheavyweight at a mere 5.78 pounds.

While the new M1530 doesn’t come with an LED backlight screen option likethe M1330, standard features include a high-definition 15.4-inchdisplay, WiFi wireless networking, a slot-load optical drive, DirectX 10capable graphics, touch-sensitive media buttons and HDMI support.

Userscan also choose from Intel Core 2 Duo processors ranging from 1.5 to 2.6GHz, a 128 or 256 MB Nvidia GeForce graphics processor, and hard drivesranging from 64 GB for a solid state drive (SSD) to a 320 GB 5400 RPM harddrive.

Other choices include three colors — the standard Tuxedo Black, CrimsonRed and Alpine White — as well an optional Blu-ray disc drive andincluded noise cancellation earbuds and a travel remote that stores away inthe ExpressCard slot. Dell’s MediaDirect and Instant Officetechnology offers a handy one-button way to access music, movies, photos,calendar items and contacts — without having to boot the system byloading Windows Vista.

Consumer and Business Both

“Dell is designing with a sense of being able to appeal to both consumerand enterprise, but the fact they come in colors and have a snazzyindustrial design means they are taking the consumer market more seriouslythan ever before,” J.P. Gownder, principal analyst for Forrester, toldTechNewsWorld.

Dell’s MediaDirect features will likely appeal to consumers as well astraveling business people, but Dell has taken media a step further with itsoptional Blu-ray drive. The option is pricey, though — it’s a US$500upgrade. Other notebook manufacturers have included HD-DVD drives in theirwares.

“There’s a very thin slice of the population that has made a choice in theformat war,” Gownder said. “The value proposition of next-generation DVD,whether HD-DVD or Blu-ray, is pretty limited. The real value, in myopinion, is only realized on a larger screen. [Blu-ray on a notebook is]only going to appeal to a very narrow, very technical group of people.”

Solid State of Mind

Dell’s not shouting about the available solid state drive upgrade — a 64GB drive option that costs $1,000 — but the company is offering it, andthat says something about growing interest in the nascent SSD market.

“You’re certainly seeing a lot more interest in solid state drives,” JeffJanukowicz, IDC’s research manager of SSDs and hard drive components, toldTechNewsWorld. Dell’s SSD upgrade offerings, he noted, are in line with those ofother manufacturers, which are also offering SSD options with increasingfrequency.

“Price is still pretty steep, but pricing has been coming down at 50percent per year, so in 2008, 2009, looking out into the future, you cansee how those drives will be more accessible to people,” he added.

More Reliable?

On Dell’s configuration Web page, the company tags its SSD hard driveoption as “more reliable.” With traditional hard drives already achievingsuperb reliability rates, as well as sudden movement sensors that preparedrives for impact if they’re dropped, are SSD drives really more reliable?

“When you think about a hard drive, it’s a mechanical device — you have alot of moving parts, things can wear out. Solid state drives have nomoving parts, so inherently they are a little more reliable from thatperspective,” Janukowicz explained.

All of Dell’s XPS desktop and notebook computers also feature Dell’sfirst-class XPS service, which guarantees quick telephone access to the company’sbest home-computer technicians and a 15-month subscription to virus andspyware protection, the company said. XPS notebooks purchased from Dellalso include one year of LoJack for Laptops theft recovery service and oneyear of 10 GB online storage and backup space with Dell DataSafe OnlineBackup.

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