Dell is introducing a series of slick laptops, tablets, and hybrid laptop-tablets today that show it is quite serious about being one of the winners for the holiday gadget-selling season.
“We’re making sure we have the right number of offerings for the customer, and we are trying out some new things,” said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets and performance PCs at Dell, in an interview with VentureBeat.
Among the highlights are new versions of Dell’s tablet family for consumers. The new entries are the Dell Venue 8 Pro and Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets that run the Windows 8 operating system from Microsoft.
Dell will launch three versions of the Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets. They have high-resolution screens and wireless LTE options.
The 8-inch tablets are slim, about 9 millimeters thick, and weigh less than a pound. They come with 2 gigabytes of main memory.
The Venue tablets come with a variety of wireless options, and the IPS touchscreens have a resolution of 1,280 x 800.
Dell also has 7-inch and 8-inch Venue tablets with Google’s Android operating system. Those sport Intel Clovertrail Plus chips. Dell will now have three versions of its Venue tablet, which will share common peripherals. Features include a biometric fingerprint reader.
The tablets let you watch a movie and pause it. You can then restart the movie just by swiping a finger across a screen. The tablet batteries are replaceable.
“A year ago, Dell had two tablets,” Hand said. “Now we have seven or eight, depending on how you count them. That shows our commitment.”
Among the improvements: better touchscreens, faster and more power-efficient processors, and Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 OS, which arrives on Oct. 17.
The company is also introducing three new Dell XPS laptops that use Intel’s high-performance, low-power consumption Haswell processors.
They include the Dell XPS 15, which has a 15.6-inch high-resolution display for high-definition viewing. This model has an optional Quad HD+ display with a resolution of 3,200 x 1,800, with more than 5.7 million pixels, or five times more than an HD display. Dell boasts that it is the highest resolution laptop available today. The XPS 15 is 18 millimeters thick and has a 14-hour battery life. It has a 160-degree viewing angle.
Everything looks sharper on this display. You’ll be able to fit a ton of Excel spreadsheet cells on one screen or watch 4K movies in brilliant detail. It has a machined aluminum case and a carbon fiber composite base that makes it lighter. The touchscreen is made of Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, which has 10 times better scratch resistance than soda lime glass. It has a new Intel Haswell processor up to a quad-core Core i7, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M 2GB graphics chip. It has 16 gigabytes of main memory and weighs 4.4 pounds.
Dell also has a 13-inch Dell XPS laptop with high resolution. It is a full touchscreen laptop. It has a machined aluminum case and a carbon fiber composite base. It has a 1080p display and a 178-degree viewing angle. It has Intel integrated graphics and a new Haswell chip. It weighs 2.99 pounds. With Intel’s Rapid Start Technology, it wakes up in 1 second when it’s in sleep mode.
And Dell has a new XPS 11, which has a hybrid design. It can be an Ultrabook laptop with a full keyboard, or you can detach the screen and use it as a Windows 8 tablet. It is 11 millimeters to 15 millimeters thick, and it weighs 2.5 pounds. The screen has a new display technology dubbed oxide TFT. The display has a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, with more than 3.6 million pixels, or the highest number in a 2-in-1 display today.
You can use the 2-in-1 in a dock, which has been nicknamed the “3-in-1″ computing style. The dock can connect to a 31-inch screen.
“There’s always the question of whether you can really play games on a tablet,” said Hand. “But we can play some of the biggest PC games on these tablets. You can play World of Tanks on Bay Trail.”
“If there were any doubts if Dell were serious about gaining share in the PC and tablet market, those get squashed with this announcement,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Dell was one of the first OEMs with Android ‘phablets’ (phone-tablet hybrids) and tablets, but quickly left that market after it was apparent that the investment barriers were high and Android just wasn’t yet ready for prime time.”
He added, “Time changed that and Android is a force in tablets. With multiple Android tablets and even a modular, Windows 8-based convertible, Dell appears more like the Dell of yesterday, who was prepared to take share from its competitors. I am particularly impressed with the new XPS 10 hybrid and the 11” Venue Windows 8-based convertible as they are very unique and differentiated from anything in the market.”
The Dell Venue 7, Venue 8, Venue 8 Pro, and new XPS 15 will be available from October 18 on Dell’s web site in the U.S. The Venue 11 Pro, XPS 11, and the updated XPS 13 with touch will be available in November. The Venue 7 is $150. The Venue 8 is $180. The Venue 8 Pro is $300. The Venue 11 pro is $500. And the XPS 15 is $1,500, the XPS 13 is $1,000, and the XPS 11 is $1,000.