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3/29/2006
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Dell Unleashes New Business Notebooks

Dell's new mobile lineup consists of two new notebooks that emphasize portability, connectivity, and security, along with two desktop-replacement systems.

Dell is the latest PC vendor to roll out new business notebooks based on Intel's Core Duo processors with the option for broadband wireless data connectivity.

At a press event Tuesday night at the well-known New York steakhouse Sparks, the direct PC seller announced it has updated its flagship Latitude line of business notebooks. Dell's new mobile lineup consists of two new business-class notebooks that emphasize portability, connectivity and security, along with two desktop-replacement systems that boast workstation-type functionality.

Although the company has lagged behind some of its key rivals--notably Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony and Toshiba--in launching notebooks based on the new Intel processors, a Dell official said the refresh of its Latitude line was consistent with the time of year it typically updates its mobile systems.

"Business customers don't like quick release refresh cycles," said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president of Dell's product group. "They like predictable, so for our customers, this is appropriate timing."

The portable systems, based on the Core Duo T2300 processor, consist of the Latitude D620 and D820. The D620 weighs 4.4 pounds and has a 14.1-inch XGA display; it starts at $1,149 for base functionality consisting of 512 MB of DDR2 memory, a 40-GB SATA hard drive and embedded 802.11b/g Wi-Fi capability. The D820 sports similar specs, but starts at $1,289, weighs 5.6 pounds and has a 15.4-inch display.

Also joining some of its key rivals, Dell emphasized the notebooks' broadband wireless options, consisting of embedded support for either the Cingular or Verizon networks, as well as the HyperConnect functionality, which intelligently discovers broadband wireless networks and Wi-Fi nets--the latter even before bootup. They also both support the emerging 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, though the spec is still not solidified.

Like other recently released systems, Dell's new offerings have embedded fingerprint readers and support the Trusted Platform Module 1.2 standard. They come embedded with Wave Systems' Embassy Trust Suite, which includes key management, authentication and encryption apps.

Gregory Cobb, Wave's director of strategic sales and marketing, said the company is looking to expand the offering of its wares through the channel. The company has distribution pacts with Synnex and Envoy Data.

For mobile workstation customers, Dell's new M90 and M65 are also Intel Core Duo-based machines with support for up to 512-MB nVidia Quadro FX OpenGL graphics boards, which is well-suited for engineering and design applications. On the high end, the M90 is equipped with a 17-inch wide-screen display with support for up to 4 GB of DDR2 memory, 2 MB of L2 cache, and a 667-MHz front-side bus.

The more portable M65 weighs about 6.2 pounds, has a 15.4-inch wide-screen display and similar specs as the M90, though the graphics memory on this machine is shared; on the M90, it is dedicated.

While Dell, the largest supplier of PCs, used the event to emphasize its model as a direct seller, a growing number of VARs and government integrators are either selling the vendor's offerings or helping customers deploy systems they purchase.

"I know many VARs choose to buy our products or, in many case, a customer might specify Dell products," Gruzen said.

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