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11/15/2004
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Dell Takes Touch Screens To Retailers

The vendor is launching flat-panel, touch-screen systems designed specifically for the retail market.

Dell is thinking out of the box. The PC maker this week is rolling out a new product line built from the ground up for the retail industry, and it's a flat-panel touch-screen system.

The 15-inch E153FPT flat-panel touch screen is the newest addition to a retail line of point-of-sale products Dell introduced in January 2003 that included PC-based registers, software, and peripherals Dell had developed for other industries and adapted for retail. The touch-screen system is based on customer feedback, says Brian Slaughter, Dell's senior marketing manager. "Adding a touch screen to the [point-of-sale] product line is an indication of Dell's growth in the space," says Slaughter, although he declined to comment on the company's share of the retail market.

Dell continues its tradition of competing on price. The new flat-panel touch screen, with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels, is $499, which Slaughter says is about $100 less than its closest competitor. He says more retailers have turned to Dell because of price, since much of the technology made for retail stores is proprietary and typically expensive.

Dell is showing a commitment to the retail industry, and using some of its inherent strengths, such as buying power, to enhance peripherals for point-of-sale operations, according to Bob Parker, VP of research at IDC. "Touch screens historically have been the dominion of fast food and beverage," he says. "They haven't really been an affordable option for some retail categories such as apparel and building materials."

To develop the new touch-screen system, Dell added touch-controller overlays to monitor screens at the end of the manufacturing production process. A shorter base was designed so it could rotate and tilt 135-degrees, making it more useful in a retail environment. "The main cost for the touch screen is in the LCD," Slaughter says. "We were able to leverage a process where we already lead in the market."

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