Personal Computers

Dell Colors Up Its Laptop Game

Dell chose Macy’s flagship Herald Square store in New York as the location to introduce its new line of laptops Tuesday. Models strutted down the catwalk sporting the line’s eight different colors, including what the company calls “flamingo pink,” “sunshine yellow,” “alpine white,” “ruby red,” “jet black,” “midnight blue,” “spring green” and “espresso brown.”

“We’ve packed these new Inspiron and XPS systems with features like mobile broadband, widescreen displays and colors choices to help customers experience the high-definition lifestyle they seek,” said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president for Dell Consumer Products. “Customers also tell us they want great design and performance, and we have responded with the new XPS M1330, the world’s thinnest 13-inch notebook.”

Getting Personal

With its new line of colorful laptops, Dell is trying to capitalize on a perceived trend that some consumers are willing to pay a premium for stylish PCs, Forrester Research analyst Benjamin Gray told TechNewsWorld.

“Dell is focused on getting away from their boring, corporate-looking consumer PCs, and color is the easiest, most visible way to do that,” he explained. “But it’s more than just about style — they’ve also added embedded Web cams and optional mobile broadband access and introduced their thinnest notebook yet.”

Dell has not forgotten substance in its push to attract more consumers to its brand, he added.

“While they broadened their consumer PC offerings with this announcement, they’re busy expanding access to a larger consumer base through retail channels like Macy’s,” Gray said.

Consumers Rule

Dell is also trying to capitalize upon growth in the consumer market, Michael Gartenberg, a JupiterResearch analyst, told TechNewsWorld. The company understands that there is a lot of growth in the consumer marketplace with more and more families are becoming multiple computer households.

“Increasingly, those additional computers coming into the home are laptops, and that presents a nice growth scenario for Dell. But at the same time, consumers have different purchase drivers than businesses do. Consumers care as much about form and fashion in addition to functionality,” he pointed out.

One of Dell’s problem areas has been its struggle to keep pace with the growth of interest in notebooks, the majority of which has taken place on the consumer side, Mark Margevicius, an analyst at Gartner, told TechNewsWorld. Because Dell, which only recently inked a deal with Wal-Mart to sell its desktops, has historically not had much of a presence in the brick-and-mortar retail market, the company had relied upon its Internet and phone sales, which has not been nearly as effective as looking at and feeling notebooks in person.

“What they have done here is create interest; create differentiation in terms of brand and appearance on their products and it helps because this is exactly the kind of thing consumers are looking for,” Margevicius explained.

Under the Rainbow

Beneath the array of new colors, Dell has stuffed the new systems with a bevy of features. The XPS M1330 weighs in at just under four pounds and measures less than an inch thick. The M1330, starting at US$1,299, offers the same level of power and functionality of larger systems, according to Dell. With an Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor running at 1.5GHz, 120 GB SATA (serial ATA) hard drive, and a combo CD/DVD or DVD+RW drive, the M1330 packs power into small size. The machine is available in red, white and black.

If a 13-inch laptop is simply too small, Dell also offers the Inspiron 1420, priced from $819. Coming in at about 5.4 pounds, the 1420 strikes a balance between the ultra-thin M1330 and larger systems. Sporting a 14.1-inch glossy, high contrast widescreen display, the machine comes loaded with an Intel Core Duo 2 T7700 processor, an 80 GB SATA hard drive, a 24X CD-RW/DVD combo drive, an Intel graphics media accelerator X3100 and an 802.11g Dell wireless mini-card.

If size is not an issue, Dell offers the new Inspiron 1520, starting at $899 and 1521, priced from $769. While both come with a glossy wide-screen 15.4-inch display and weigh a little more than six pounds, the 1520 base model includes an Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor running at 1.5 GHz, an 80 GB SATA hard drive, a CDRW/DVD combo drive, an Intel graphics media accelerator X3100 video card, Dell wireless 802.11g mini-card and an integrated 2.0M pixel Web cam.

The 1521 expands on the 1520’s specifications with an AMD Turion 64 X2 dual-core processor TL-50, running at 1.6 GHz, a 160 GB SATA hard drive, and an ATI Radeon Xpress 1270 HyperMemory video card. Consumers who want more of a good thing on the 1520 and 1521 can opt for the new Centrino Duo platform, an Nvidia GeForce Go 8400MGS or 8600M GT graphics card, a Blu-ray drive and EV-DO.

When nothing will do but a 17-inch screen, Dell has provided the Inspiron 1720 and 1721. In the 1720, priced from US$1,049 consumers will find a glossy, high contrast LCD display, an Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor running at 1.5 GHz, an 80 GB hard drive, a combination CD-RW and DVD player, and integrated 2.0 megapixel Web cam and an 802.11g Dell wireless mini-card.

The more expensive 1721 builds on the 1720’s offerings with the AMD Turion 64 X2 mobile technology TL-50 processor running at 1.6 GHz, a glossy wide-screen display, a 160 GB hard drive, and an ATI Radeon Xpress 1270 HyperMemory graphics card. Consumers can also give these systems a boost with the optional Blu-ray HD-DVD drive and EV-DO, and an Nvidia GeForce Go 8600 graphics chip.

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