Tag Archives | Dell

Dell’s Little Big Ultrabook Looks Like a Winner

The more Ultrabooks that get unveiled here at CES, the more convinced I am that it’s silly to discuss them as if they were a coherent new class of portable computer. No two manufacturers seem to agree on what an Ultrabook should be. That’s neat, since it means they’re experimenting. And on Tuesday, Dell introduced my favorite answer so far to the question “What is an Ultrabook?” in the form of its new XPS 13.

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Dell Discontinues the 7″ Streak Tablet

Dell seems to be out of the Android tablet business, at least for the time being. I wonder if it’s decided to move on and focus on Windows ones, especially once Windows 8 is out?


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The American Customer Satisfaction Index: Apple Aces It, Again

The American Customer Satisfaction Index rates various industries and companies for–you can probably figure this out on your own–customer satisfaction, based on a poll of 70,000 consumers. It’s released its latest numbers for the PC industry, and there are no surprises: Apple has a clear lead on everybody else that the survey has enough data about to rate.

Here are the ratings for 2011, on a scale of 100. (Unfortunately, there are some major players that it doesn’t have specific data for, such as Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba–they’re part of “All Others.”)

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See Ya, Streak 5

Dell’s first Android tablet, the Streak 5, is officially discontinued. A strange farewell message now appears on Dell’s Streak 5 web page (“Goodbye, Streak 5. It’s been a great ride.”), with an image of a pretty woman who is not holding a Streak 5.

The general consensus is that the Streak 5 was too big to be a good phone and too small to be a good tablet, but I’m not convinced of that argument. Phone makers have successfully made 4.3-inch screens desirable, and are now pushing toward 4.5 inches with the Samsung Infuse 4G and rumored HTC Holiday. And whenever I write about 7-inch tablets, I’m shocked by the number of commenters who want to use them as phones. I think there’s a niche for oversized handsets. Dell just failed to capture it. In hindsight, it’s easy to see why.

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In the Tech Industry, Management Change Comes Slowly

Reuters’ Alastair Sharp has published a story saying that some investors are wondering whether it’s time for a change at the top of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, which is led by Mike Lazaridis (who founded the company in 1984) and Jim Balsillie (who’s been co-CEO since 1992). Sharp’s piece follows a flurry of debate last week about the future of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s president and CEO, who’s been with the company since 1980 and has been CEO since 2000.

I’m not making any predictions about what’s going to happen at either company–except to note that lack of change is usually a more likely outcome than change in these situations, at least in the short term. But the stories got me thinking about the durability of many of the top executives in tech companies. I decided to graph out the management of a few major corporations.

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Is There Any Chance at All That Tablets Are a Fad?

I’m not sure whether tablets are going to become the dominant form of computing device over the next few years, or just a very successful one that peacefully coexists alongside phones, traditional PCs, TV, and other gizmos. But I can’t see a scenario in which the iPad and its rivals (once good ones arrive in force) are simply irrelevant.

Others, however, aren’t so sure that these newfangled gadgets are here for the long haul. In “Why Tablets Are Just a Fad” (a story that’s been widely, um, commented on), PCWorld’s Katherine Noyes says she doesn’t like ‘em–especially the iPad–and believes that everyone else will come around to her way of thinking:

It’s no secret that I am not an Apple fan, as its devices are so closed and restrictive. For that reason, I’d be far more inclined to look at Android tablets such as the Motorola Xoom–which, I should add, could certainly be useful in niche applications such as health care and inventory control.

For my purposes, though, I just can’t be bothered. I see no reason to own a tablet, and fully expect them to fade out of the mainstream over the next few years.

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Dell XPS Laptops Add Premium Audio, 3D Video, Sandy Bridge Processors

Dell's new XPS 15

Release dates for Dell’s refreshed XPS laptops have turned into a moving target, and all the specs haven’t been quite clear. Yet Dell on Tuesday suddenly announced immediate US availability for both the 15- and 17-inch models, along with a finalized feature set that now officially includes 3D video.

In a Dell press briefing session I attended during CES in January, Alison Gardner, a Dell product manager, sketched out new features for “AV enthusiasts”–such as JBL speakers and MAXXAudio 3–and for “immersive multimedia.”

Dell asked reporters to hold off on publishing stories about the new notebooks pending a formal announcement then slated for February 20. Yet Dell’s Lionel Menchaca detailed some preliminary specs–for the XPS 17 only–in a blog posted on Dell’s Web site, also during the week of CES.

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CES 2011: Hands-on with Dell's Venue Android Smartphone

Dell’s fourth smartphone, the newly unveiled Venue, uses the same Android 2.2-based and Dell Stage user interface as the larger Streak 5 phone/tablet. The Venue’s good-looking hardware, however, is similar to that of the Windows Phone 7-driven Venue Pro, although without the Pro’s slide-out keyboard. That’s the start of what I discovered during a hands-on session at a Dell press event this weekend in Las Vegas.

As Dell delves more deeply into smartphones, the veteran PC maker is aiming its Android phones mostly at consumers, said Matt Christiansen, a Dell senior training analyst, in an interview at the event. The Venue Pro, on the other hand, is targeted at businesses, as well as at long-time RIM BlackBerry customers, other major users of texting, and anyone who is brand new to smartphones.

In checking out the Venue, Streak 5, and Venue Pro side-by-side, I found that the Venue is meaningfully lighter to hold and carry than either of the existing phones. Indeed, the lack of a keyboard subtracts extra baggage of around 30 grams, leaving the Venue with a total weight of around 160 grams, or about 5.6 ounces, Christiansen estimated. In contrast, the Streak 5 tips the scales at about 220 grams, or 7.8 ounces. Dell’s display at the event didn’t include the company’s first phone, the Android-driven Aero.

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CES 2011: T-Mobile's Tablets and Network Upgrade

 

Dell Streak 7

 

T-Mobile USA has rolled out new tablets from Dell and LG, a new USB stick for upping end users’ access times, and intends to double the speed of its underlying network, all in the face of intensifying 4G wireless competition from Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

In announcing the availability of the Android 2.2-based Dell Streak 7 tablet over the next few weeks during a CES news conference, T-Mobile also gave quick sneak peeks at a second tablet, dubbed the G Slate, and the new speed stick from ZTE.

At a press reception afterward on Thursday night, I did a bit of hands-on with the Streak 7, while getting perspectives from a couple of T-Mobile engineers about how T-Mobile’s network stacks up against the rivals.

The G Slate and new 42 Mbps USB speed stick were both absent at the reception, however. A spokesperson told me that T-Mobile is keeping both devices away from close-up scrutiny for the moment, since the gear is still under development. The G Slate is T-Mobile’s emerging version of LG’s Honeycomb tablet.

As you might expect, the Streak 7 looks like a jumbo edition of Dell’s Streak 5 phone-tablet. If you like a larger screen, you’ll obviously get that in the Streak 7, but the Streak 7 lacks the Streak 5’s voice calling capabilities.

The Streak 7 sports a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, Swype navigation, and rear- and front-facing cameras. The front-facing camera supports Qik video conferencing.

The Android-based tablet also supports Android Market, of course, although T-Mobile only loaded the Streak with a few applications for the press demos, including Angry Birds and a T-Mobile user access test app.

The touch screen seemed admirably responsive when I used it to play around with Android Market and the test app. In test results, I came up with 3103 Kbps on the downlink and 1143 Kbps on the uplink over T-Mobile’s existing network.

Brian Olsen, a senior technology engineer at T-Mobile, told me that test results had been better earlier in the day, but that latency seemed to be increasing with the convergence of more and more techies upon Las Vegas.

Notably, though, elsewhere in and around CES, people keep complaining that the wireless networks of Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are getting bogged down, too.

T-Mobile already offers a USB speed stick, but the current stick supports network speeds of only 21 Mbps.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile plans to double the speed of its underlying network by bonding new HSPA+ cell towers with existing ones. T-Mobile is dubbing its new network HSPA+ 42, said Mark McDiarmid, T-Mobile’s senior director of engineering and operations, in an interview at the press reception.

The carrier expects to start the network upgrade in its top 25 US markets, later expanding to the remaining top 100 markets, all of which now have 3G in place.

T-Mobile’s network upgrade strategy is quicker and more cost effective than the approaches Verizon is taking with LTE and Sprint is following with WiMax, because unlike the others, T-Mobile doesn’t need to install new types of cell towers, McDiarmid said.

Speeds on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network will be comparable to those of Verizon’s LTE 4G network, according to the engineer.

Also, since T-Mobile isn’t building a whole new network architecture, its sped up network will be backward compatible with older tablets and phones, meaning that end users won’t need to buy new devices, he told me.


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The Dell Adamo Gets Cheaper

Dell’s super-thin Adamo may be the closest thing to a MacBook Air-like machine in the Windows world. And now it starts at $899, $100 less than the cheapest Air.


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