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8/27/2013
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Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops

With its durable but svelte Latitude 7000 Series Ultrabooks, Dell hopes to energize its enterprise PC sales while promoting its new software and services capabilities.

Dell refreshed its line of business-oriented Latitude laptops and Ultrabooks on Monday. The new PCs offer not only top-shelf components, but also a bundle of software designed to make the device more secure and easier for IT to manage. The company hopes the package can address two of its ongoing concerns: a rough PC market, and a fledgling software and services business that hasn't grown fast enough to offset falling computer sales.

The Latitude 7000 Series headlines the new products. The high-end Ultrabooks will come in 12.5- and 14-inch options, with the smaller model pitched particularly at users who value mobility. At just 20 mm thick and weighing in at just under three pounds, it's comparable in size to Apple's svelte 13-inch MacBook Air.

The devices are built from sturdy aluminum, and both feature Intel's fourth-generation Haswell core processors. The chips have been slowly showing up in new computers throughout the summer and have typically delivered superior battery life and graphics processing relative to earlier editions. The processors are available in Core i3, i5 or i7 varieties, and both machines include Intel's 4400 integrated graphics.

[ What do Dell's lousy quarterly earnings mean for the company's buyout potential? Read Dell's Ugly Earnings: 5 Takeaways. ]

The 7000 Series Ultrabooks can be configured with either a 1920 x 1080-pixel touch display that features a woven carbon fiber shell and Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, or a non-touch 1366 x 768-pixel display. Dell is offering options for both Windows 7 and Windows 8. The smaller model is available only with a 256-GB SSD that is rubber-isolated to protect against shocks. The 14-inch model offers either a traditional drive or the SSD option. Both computers can support up to 16 GB of RAM. Features are rounded out by support for both 802. 11g/n Wi-Fi and WiGig, three USB 3.0 slots and an HDMI output.

At an event last week in San Francisco, Dell officials emphasized that the device balances sleek design with durability. "End users have to want to use the device," said Kirk Schell, Dell's VP of commercial computing, during the presentation.

Schell also said Dell must provide a differentiated experience for businesses and consumers, and emphasized that the Latitude Ultrabooks are designed to be IT-friendly. Management and security features include support for Intel's vPro technology, which allows devices to be remotely wiped even when powered off; hooks for Microsoft System Center and Dell KACE; Dell Pro Support, which Dell officials said resolves 99% of all technical problems; Dell Data Protection Protected Workspace, which uses sandboxed environments to protect against malware; and military-grade data encryption, among others. The Protected Workspace feature is a new technology that Dell will offer for free for a year; it will require a subscription thereafter.

With Windows XP losing service in April, Dell knows many enterprises are beginning to eye new hardware, and it hopes that the Latitude's combination of security, manageability and build quality will help it to stand out. At the San Francisco event, Dell presenters repeatedly claimed the new Latitudes offer IT tools that competing products from HP, Lenovo and especially Apple cannot match.

Dell also announced new 14- and 15-inch models in the budget-oriented Series 3000. Hewing closer to traditional laptop form factors, these devices are heftier than the 7000 Series models, with the 15-inch version weighing up to five pounds, depending on battery and screen options. The 14-inch model will be offered with up to a 1600 x 900-pixel display, whereas the 15-inch will offer up to full HD resolution. Both include Intel's new processors and can be ordered in both touch-equipped and non-touch configurations.

The Latitude Series 7000 Ultrabooks are available immediately, starting at $1049, though touch-enabled models will not ship until September. The Latitude Series 3000 laptops will be available September 12, starting at $599. Dell plans to release Series 5000 models in October, though prices and specifications have yet to be announced.

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rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
8/27/2013 | 11:07:57 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
I completely agree. For two years I used a MBP for mobile development and that track pad is unbelievably superior to the Win-world offerings. I don't recall it ever getting confused as to what I wanted it to do. Contrast that with my current, year-old Windows laptop track pad that is constantly confusing whether or not it's being touched or the quantity of fingers I'm using.

Often I just have to stop touching it and wait 5-10 seconds while it recalibrates. Sometimes I have to touch it with my whole palm or 3-4 fingers and wait 5-10, then lift and wait another 5-10. One time it was so confused I had to power down the laptop and restart it. It must be REALLY hard to make a great track pad because outside the MBP, this is the best one I've had. Several laptops ago the track pads were so bad that I much-preferred the eraser sick (HP used to offer both).
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2013 | 9:17:49 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
As it so happens, there was a report in July that said Intel and Microsoft were working on something to make Windows trackpads better. Here's hoping!
Bob Gill
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Bob Gill,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2013 | 9:11:50 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
I'm certainly an MS guy, but I agree the MacBook's trackpad is far superior to any other pad out there.

I hadn't used a modern MacBook and then last year with my niece going off to college, she asked me to setup her new MacBook Pro and misc. I still don't think that much of Macs, but that trackpad was awesome.

Hey Windows device makers, where's the trackpad love?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2013 | 7:14:42 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
Yeah, possibly, though I think Dell might sell more of the non-touch Windows 7 configuration that it does any of the others. That seems to be the trend with XP migrations so far.

Still, during the presentation, someone said, "Whether you use touch once a month or every day, you'll be glad it's there." I think that's true. Sometimes, after using my Surface Pro, I find myself reaching up toward the screen of my Lenovo ThinkPad--so clearly, I must like the touch aspect, if I've conditioned myself to absentmindedly swipe at non-touch laptop screens.

Still, a lot of "touch" functionality is built into the MacBook Air's trackpad, which wipes the earth with the stuff a lot of Windows OEMs put out there. It's not the same as having a true touchscreen, but if "touch" functions matter, it somewhat narrows the gap.
Bob Gill
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Bob Gill,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2013 | 6:48:43 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
Touch.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2013 | 6:46:50 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
Well, Dell would tell you that its computers are much more secure and IT-friendly. If a company already uses KACE products, that might be true, since the Latitudes hook right in. And depending on the operation, Dell's support and security software might be worthwhile.

But yeah, I've heard from people at both Forrester and VMware that OS X adoption in the enterprise is up lately. It's not up by a huge amount or anything-- but it's significant that it's growing, given all the other disruptions in the PC market. The MacBook Air is attractive to a lot people-- and not just consumers.
Alex Kane Rudansky
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Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
8/27/2013 | 6:28:55 PM
re: Dell Updates Business Ultrabooks, Laptops
So why a Latitude Series 7000 as opposed to a Macbook Air, if they're both around the same price?
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