Dell Refreshes XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook With Better Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | July 16, 2013 - 07:09 AM |
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, dell

Dell has announced that within the next few weeks, it will be unleashing a refreshed version of the XPS 12 convertible ultrabook (tablet/notebook). Although the base price will be increased by $100, the refreshed tablet features Intel’s latest Fourth Generation Core “Haswell” processor, a NFC radio, and a larger battery.

Specifically, Dell will be releasing at least three new XPS 12 SKUs. The lowest-end refreshed model includes an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. This ultrabook/tablet SKU has an MSRP of $1,199 and is an update to the original base model with an MSRP of $1,099.

Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook.jpg

Dell's XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook (Tablet)

Beyond the starter version, users can upgrade the CPU and memory to an Intel Core i5-4500U and 8GB of DDR3 for $200 more ($1,399 MSRP).

Finally, users can take the $1,399 model and upgrade the storage to a 512GB solid state drive (SSD). This version of the XPS 12 has a MSRP of $1,999.

Dell claims that the updated ultrabook has up to 1.6-times the performance and 2.5 hours more battery life (8 hours, 43 minutes) thanks to the move to Haswell CPUs and a larger 50Wh battery respectively.  Of course, the original XPS 12 used Ivy Bridge CPUs and 47Wh batteries. The new models have started shipping and will be available for purchase around the end of July.

Source: Dell

E3 2013: Dell Alienware X51 Gaming Desktop Refresh

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2013 - 04:17 AM |
Tagged: E3, E3 13, dell, alienware, alienware x51

The launch of Haswell led to many new product launches, and so did E3. The overlap? The Alienware X51 gaming desktop has been refreshed with some very compelling components at a surprisingly compelling price.

dell-alienware-x51.jpg

Unfortunately, there is a slight difference between the Canadian and the American offerings; it is not a case of one citizen paying more than the another, however, as things are more shuffled around than outright better. Our Canadian readers start with a base price of $1499.99, and Americans start out at $1449.99. Americans can spend an extra $100 to upgrade their DVD reader to a Blu-Ray drive, Canadians get Blu-Ray by default. Therefore, if you desire a Blu-Ray drive, it is $50 cheaper to be Canadian; otherwise, it is $50 cheaper to be American.

Whether you are Canadian or American, I would personally recommend spending the extra $100 upgrading your RAM from 8GB to 16 GB. Sure, 8GB is a lot, but the extra can go a long way especially with the direction that web browsers have been heading. You each, also, have the option of spending $300 and receiving a 256GB SSD albeit also at the expense of, beyond the $300, reducing your 2TB HDD down to a slower, 5400RPM 1TB drive.

In all, this actually looks quite compelling for someone who wishes to have a console-esque form-factor near their TV. Unfortunately there are currently no Ubuntu-based options for this X51, although you may freely ($0) choose between Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and Windows 8 64-bit.

Source: Dell

Computex 2013: Dell Shows Off XPS 11 Convertible Tablet With 1440p Display

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2013 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: xps 11, windows 8, dell, convertible tablet, computex 2013, computex, 1440p

Dell is showing off a new XPS 11 convertible tablet PC at Computex. The new tablet takes cues from Lenovo's Yoga ultrabook and switches out the traditional Dell center hinge for a new Yoga-like 180-degree hinge that folds back until the display is on the opposite side of the keyboard. In another twist, Dell has opted for a flat keyboard with keys that have no physical travel. Instead, it offers adjustable haptic and audio feedback when typing.

Dell XPS 11 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet With 1440p display.jpg

Engadget goes hands-on with Dell's new XPS 11.

Dell has managed to create an 11.6” convertible notebook that is 15mm thick and less than 2.5 pounds. According to Dell representatives on the show floor, the XPS 11 will come with a high resolution 2560 x 1440 IPS touchscreen display, which is practically-unheard of for such a tiny form factor notebook. Even better, the tablet will come with a pressure sensitive active digitizer.

The XPS 11 will run Windows 8, and is likely powered by Intel's Haswell “4th Generation Core” processor. However, Dell has not yet announced any internal specifications and the device on the show floor is merely a prototype. In other words, the design and internal hardware is not yet finalized and subject to change.

Dell XPS 11 Windows 8 Convertible Tablet With 1440p display and 180-degree hinge.jpg

Engadget managed to get some hands on time with the XPS 11 at Computex. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to try out the keyboard or use the digitizer. Judging by the hands-on photos they shot, the upcoming tablet will support USB 3.0, SD cards, audio and HDMI output.

The 1440p display is impressive and the new keyboard should allow the device be more ergonomic in tablet mode. I'm intrigued but skeptical about my ability to use this as a daily driver device with the flat, no travel, keyboard. At the very least, hopefully it spawns some competition for 11.6” devices with high resolution displays!
 

Source: Engadget

Dell Launches Cheaper Alienware X51 With Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Subject: Systems | April 9, 2013 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: ubuntu 12.04 lts, ubuntu, linux, dell, alienware x51

Dell has been one of the biggest (major OEM) supporter of the open source Ubuntu Linux operating system, and it seems the Linux love is trickling down to the company's boutique Alienware PC lineup as well. A new version of the Alienware X51, a small form factor gaming PC, is now available with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS pre-installed. Quite possibly the closest thing (so far) to a Steam Box, the Alienware X51 can run the Steam for Linux client along with all of the Linux games available on Valve's digital distribution service. Granted, the Ubuntu version cannot tap into the relatively-massive Windows game library out of the box, but it is also $100 cheaper than the X51 pre-installed with Windows due to Linux being free, and thus costing Dell less.

The Alienware X51 hardware is decent for a small form factor system, though it maxes out at a NVIDIA GTX 660 in the highest-end SKU. For $600, you can get an X51 will a dual-core Intel Core i3-3220 processor clocked at 3.3GHz, a NVIDIA GTX 645 1GB graphics card, 6GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive. On the other end fo the part configuration is the highest-end $1049 option, with a quad-core Core i7-3770 CPU clocked at 3.4GHz, a NVIDIA GTX 660 1.5GB GPU, 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory, and a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive.

gallery-shot_desktops_x51_01.jpg

The Alienware X51 chassis measures 12.5" x 12.5" x 3.74" and should fit into most entertainment centers (if you can get past the significant-other approval factor, that is). The PC comes equipped with Dell's 1506 802.11g/n Wi-Fi card as well, for situations where Ethernet or Powerline Ethernet is not an option.

It is nice to see Dell continuing to support Linux in some small way. Hopefully as Valve pushes for further Steam for Linux adoption, we will see more Linux-compatible games and OEMs will take notice and support the open source OS more openly in consumer lineups (a geek can dream...)!

You can find more information on the Alienware X51 at alienware.com/ubuntu/.

Does the inclusion of Ubuntu sway you towards the Alienware X51 (at least it's cheaper than the PISTON...), or will you be building your own custom Steam Box?

Source: Dell

New Flash based products coming to a server near you

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2013 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: memristor, non-volitle RAM, mlc, PCIe SSD, hitachi, hp, dell

The Register assembled a brief look at the near future of flash storage products from HP, Hitachi, Dell and NetApp.  HP expects to be shipping memristor based storage devices by the end of the year as well as photonic inter-node backplanes which will offer much faster transfer than copper based solutions.  Hitachi Data Systems believes they have made a breakthrough in MLC flash and controller technology which will not only extend the usable life of the memory but they expect price parity with high end SAS HDDs by the end of 2015.  Check out those stories as well as Dell's server plans and NetApp's new OS right here.

rcjMemristor.jpg

"In every minute;

  • More than 600 videos are uploaded to YouTube
  • More than 13,000 hours of music are streamed via Pandora
  • 168 million emails are transmitted
  • 695,000 status updates are added to Facebook
  • 695,000 Google searches are also made."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II versus a dual linked Dell 3007WFP

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2013 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: 2560x1600, amd, hd7970 direct cu 2, asus, dell, 3007WFP

[H]ard|OCP has wanted to publish their review of the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II for a while but ran into a compatibility issue during their testing and ended up being a perfect example of what sometimes happens to review sites and enthusiasts on the bleeding edge.  [H] uses a Dell 3007WFP with a resolution of 2560x1600 which necessitates the use of a dual link DVI connection, which cause the issue you can see below.  No other setup seemed to reproduce this problem, even the same monitor on a single link DVI at 1920x1080 or at the higher resolution on Display Port would not display the issue.  So what began as a review of an HD 7970 with some nice extra features from ASUS became a long session of troubleshooting.  Take a read through the review as these cards should be back in stock over the next few months, very likely with a solution to this problem already incorporated.

Hoops.jpg

"Today we have the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II strapped to our test bench for your reading pleasure. We will compare it to the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 to determine whether the custom VRMs and DirectCU II cooling solution are the droids you are looking for in your next graphics card purchase."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Dell Releases Wireless 802.11ad Dock With USB 3.0, Mutli-Display Support

Subject: General Tech | March 4, 2013 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless dock, wigig, dock, dell, computing, 802.11ad

Dell has launched a new docking station for its laptops. In an interesting twist, the dock connects to the computer over an 802.11ad “WiGig” link to provide up to 7Gbps bandwidth between the dock and laptop. The Dell Wireless D5000 docking station supports multi-display, USB 3.0, and audio output. According to Dell, it is the worlds first commercially available wireless dock.

The Wireless D5000 dock pairs with Dell's 1601 WiGig card, which is currently only available with Dell's Latitude 6430u laptop. Pairing is a simple matter of hitting the pairing button and hitting connect in Dell's Connection Manager software. A single USB 3.0 port and headphone jack are also available on the front of the device.

Dell WiGig Dock.jpg

Rear IO on the Dell Wireless D5000 dock includes DC power jack, Ethernet jack, two USB 3.0 ports, a single HDMI port, and one DisplayPort output. Additionally, the D5000 uses a WiGig radio to provide the connectivitiy over a wireless link. WiGig, or 802.11ad, uses the 60GHz wireless spectrum to provide high bandwidth at short distances. The chip Dell is using in the dock is capable of falling back to 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands–you can expect significantly slower speeds in that situation though. You will be able to take your computer with you, set it on the desk and have two desktop monitors, a wired network connection, and USB 3.0 ports. Not bad, though Justin Kerr over at Maximum PC notes that wireless power for charging your laptop would have really ratcheted-up the dock's usefulness.

Dell WiGig Dock (2).jpg

In terms of connectivity, there is nothing especially new here that Thunderbolt docks are not already providing (aside from the wireless nature, of course). I say this because the Dell D5000 dock's pricing is in line with many of the Thunderbolt options. If you can stand a wired connection to the dock and your laptop/ultrabook has a Thunderbolt port, you could grab a dock with similar port options, higher theoretical bandwith, and a Thunderbolt passthrough. The Dell D5000 is available for $270 at Dell's online store, but it is reportedly cheaper if purchased with the Dell Latitude 6430U laptop. In that scenario, the wireless dock is only $190 (which is, admittedly, pretty good even against Thunderbolt docks).

Source: Dell

Some Stakeholders Yell, "Oh... DELL No!"

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 16, 2013 - 01:19 AM |
Tagged: dell

There have been some groups opposed to the planned deal to cease publicly trading Dell and release their shares. It would seem that for many, a short-term payout of 25 percent over trading price is insufficient and, they believe, undervalues the company. I mean, the price is totally not derived from the value you gave it when you just finished trading stocks at 80 percent of what Dell is offering you or anything. Yes, I am making a joke: some investors were almost definitely going long on Dell. I still suspect that some are just playing hardball, hoping that a quarter on the dollar raise is just a starting bid.

Buckle in, I will separate stockholders opinions into two categories: investment firms and employees.

dell.jpg

Ars Technica clearly had football on the mind when they wrote a very Superbowl-themed editorial. Early in the month, Southeastern Asset Management sent a letter to Dell management expressing their stance to vote against a deal to go private. The investment firm controls 8.5 percent of Dell which means their opinion has a fair amount of sway. A short few days later, T. Rowe Price stepped up to likewise oppose the deal. This firm owns 4.4 percent of Dell, which means combined they have roughly a 13 percent vote.

Factor in a bunch of smaller investors and you are looking at almost a fifth of the company wanting to keep it public. That combined voting power slightly overtakes the 16 percent control owned by Micheal Dell and could hamper the festivities.

Employees, meanwhile, are upset all the same. Again, according to Ars Technica and their vigilant coverage states that some employees were force to sell their stock acquired as a part of their 401k at $9 per share – substantially lower than the 13.65$ being offered to investors.

There are several other ways which employees get their stake in the company reduced or hampered, but I would direct you to the Ars Technica article so I do not butcher any details.

Unfortunately these sorts of practices are fairly commonplace when it comes to investment deals. It would appear as if this deal trots on common ground instead of taking the high road.

God, I hate mixed metaphors.

Source: Ars Technica

Dell To Go Private With $13.65 Per Share Buyout Offer

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 05:53 AM |
Tagged: wall street, OEM, microsoft, dell

Dell, ranked third in terms of global market share, has announced that it is entertaining a buyout offer by CEO and founder Michael Dell and his associates. The $24.4 billion deal will see Dell leave wall street and return to a privately held company. Michael Dell has managed to secure funding for the buyout offer, which amounts to $13.65 per share.

Dell Logo.jpg

Funding sources for the buyout offer includes:

  • Cash and equity from Michael Dell and Dell cash on hand.
  • Cash from Silver Lake
  • Cash from MSD Capital
  • A $2 billion loan from Microsoft
  • A rollover of existing debt
  • New debt financing compromised of
    • Bank of America Merril Lynch
    • Barclays
    • Credit Suisse
    • RBC Capital Markets

The deal will leave Dell with $15 billion of new debt, but it will also allow them to go in new directions and focus on long term goals. Dell will no longer be forced to focus on short term growth and profitability over long term goals to keep stockholders/wall street content. It is an interesting move on Dell's part because traditionally companies do the opposite: transition from being privately to publicly held corporations. Michael Dell is at the forefront of the buyout offer and should it go through, Dell will remain the CEO of the now-private company. The deal is expected to close by the end of the company's second fiscal quarter (July 2013)-- though the board does have 45 days to solicit alternative offers.

According to the New York Times, Michael Dell wrote the following memo to employees.

“Dell’s transformation is well under way, but we recognize it will still take more time, investment and patience. I believe that we are better served with partners who will provide long-term support to help Dell innovate and accelerate the company’s transformation strategy.”

It is an interesting move, and hopefully Dell will be able to turn its luck around, and gain back its lost market share. Many enthusiasts are wondering whether or not the $2 billion loan from Microsoft suggests the software giant has a special interest in the OEM--and whether that means Dell will become some kind of premium partner for Windows and/or Windows Phone devices.

That is certainly one option, but it is not the only one. While I think Dell will continue to produce Windows-powered computers, there is also the growing popularity of Linux to consider. Dell could continue to produce Windows PCs without going private, but pursuing Linux in a big way might be one reason to do so. Dell has traditionally been supportive of the open source Linux operating system with initiatives like Project Sputnik. While it would not happen overnight and would require quite the effort, Dell could do for Linux what Apple has done for Unix with OS X.

It could focus on a premium line of computers running a Linux-based operating system along with quality customer support. It may be an unlikely option compared to the suggestions of a Dell and Microsoft premium partnership, but it is not completely without merit.

Why do you think Michael Dell is transitioning Dell to a privately-held company?  Will Dell cozy up to Microsoft for the next Surface, is there some other grand plan in the works, or is the answer more simple?

Source: Forbes

Dell Goes Private, Microsoft Loans Some Help

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | February 5, 2013 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: dell

Dell, dude, you're getting a Dell!

So it is official that Dell is going private. Michael Dell, CEO, as well as: Silver Lake, MSD Capital, several banks, and Dell itself will buy back stocks from investors 25% above the January 11th trading price. The whole deal would be worth $24.4 billion USD.

dell.jpg

Going private allows the company to make big shifts in their business without answering to investors on a quarterly basis. We can see how being a publicly traded company seems to hinder businesses after they grow beyond what a cash infusion can assist. Even Apple finds it necessary to keep an absolutely gigantic pile of cash to play with, only recently paying dividends to investors.

Also contributing to the buyback, as heavily reported, is a $2 billion USD loan from Microsoft. While it sounds like a lot in isolation, it is only just over 8% of the whole deal. All you really can pull is that it seems like Microsoft supports Dell in their decision and is putting their money where their intentions are.

Source: The Verge