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Wednesday, 09 February 2011 07:23

Dell dangles devices, tips tablet, pumps price


Dell has put together what it claims is its largest ever product refresh, officially launching 15 new business computers today - and promising another 24 during the year including a 10 inch Windows 7 based tablet.

Pricing on the new machines is fairly standard - the new Dell Latitude E family of laptops will start at $1,555 while the Optiplex solutions start at $1,299. However the top of the range machines are more expensive than originally expected.

When Dell debuted the machines to the media last week it indicated that the entry level price for the Dell Precision T1600 workstation range would be $840. By the time final Australian prices were revealed yesterday however that had sprung up to $1,899.

Dell yesterday said that the$840 figure was the US price. It said that Dell's local version of the Precision would feature a Core i5 processor (Core-i3 in the US), and that it would come with a wireless networking adaptor as standard, where that is an option in the US. The Australian price also includes GST and accounts for the higher cost of providing warranty services according to a spokesman.

With the $A still flirting with parity with the $US, savvy consumers will be able to do their own analysis about features and prices and whether the Australian model really is worth twice the cost of the US model.

There will be plenty of time to ponder this question as this year's crop of new machines is expected to be around for a while - five years at least according to Dell executives who during last week's preview said the systems will be available in Australia from March.  All the Latitude family has been updated with the release of the E series which runs Windows 7, although a Linux option is available.

The focus on laptops is warranted according to Dell as statistics from IDC suggest that by 2012 the number of devices that IT departments will have to support will increase 66 per cent. By 2013 a third of the workforce is expected to be mobile.

Dell is clearly trying to seduce IT managers of large enterprises with the new systems which it claims will be easier for them to manage as part of that burgeoning fleet. The laptops are pre integrated with Citrix and VMware remote desktop clients.

Michael Townsend, Latitude brand manager said that there is a legacy plug in unit allowing older connections to be maintained, and the e-port replicator or docking station has not changed from previous models.

Jeff Morris, Dell's regional product manager for the brands, said the systems allowed enterprise IT managers to retain their existing back end 'ecosystem' but offer new functionality to users.

The introduction of a 10 inch tablet will also give Dell a chance to compete with an ever expanding pool of tablets which are fast gaining a foothold in the executive suite. Dell doesn't believe though that tablet computers suit everyone.

Mr Townsend said that; 'I find myself talking customers out of tablets more often than into tablets. The best applications are use a form based software - for example in sales,' he said.

Besides the new Latitude E series Dell has announced four new Optiplex systems including an all in one system, and three new Precision high performance systems.

The Latitude series will be sold direct and through the channel while the Precision series will only be available through selected partners.

The machines may be rugged and effective - some of the laptops have achieved a MIL-STD 810 rating - but they aren't going to win any beauty contests. The design appears captive to an iron curtain aesthetic, with the front of the now pricy Precision units looking positively cheese graterish.

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