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.

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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.

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"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."

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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.

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"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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Won't sell Surface? You won't have a choice if we buy you!

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2013 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: dell, microsoft, purchase

It is a bit of an exaggeration to entertain the thought that Microsoft is involved in buying Dell so that they will finally have a supplier that will have to sell Surface tablets but you can bet there will be some Dell branded Win8 ultra-portables bearing touchscreens released in the near future.  Microsoft and Dell have been close partners for quite a while, on the retail side but more importantly on the enterprise side and there will not be any changes to that partnership if Microsoft does indeed purchase a part of Dell.  What might change drastically is Dell's product lineup; with no stockholders demanding a steady dribble of short term profits regardless of the effect of long term profits Dell will be free to develop products and product lines which might be more varied.  That does not guarantee success in the development and sales of new products, but it will be interesting to see what Dell comes up with if the sale does go through.  On the other hand it could be that Dell's allegiance will be torn between the various companies involved in this buy out and that innovation will be stifled by it.  Get more predictions from The Register right here.

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"It’s a comment on the times that Dell floated in 1988, just as IBM compatible PCs – systems running Intel chips fused with the then-new Windows operating system – were exploding into people's homes and workplaces, taking the PC from the hands of enthusiasts. Two decades later, Dell's going private as PC sales tumble at the expense of tablets while web2.0 companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga are the ones listing."

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Source: The Register

Could Dell finally awaken the Penguin with Linux powered XPS machines?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell

Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering.  Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up.  There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card.  It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.

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"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.

Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."

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Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Dell

The Dell All-in-One

 

Reviewers, at times, can be somewhat myopic.  I speak for myself in this particular instance.  My job as a writer is to test hardware on a daily basis, and as such I have a very keen understanding (or so I hope) of the intricacies of computer design.  If I need to build a machine, whether for test purposes or something that my wife can play Song Pop on, I have a near infinite variety of components that I can choose from to fit the needs of the project.  As such, we often forget that not everyone has that level of expertise.  Most people, in fact, just want to be able to buy something that not only fits their needs, but also simply just has to work.

xps_pack01.jpg

Dog is unimpressed with packaging.  UPS complained profusely though.

This is the reason why we have the Dells, HPs, and Lenovos of the world.  The vast majority of people out there are unwilling to build their own machine and support it themselves.  They neither have the time nor patience to dive in and learn the ins and outs of a modern PC and the software that runs them.  This is not a bad thing.  Just as I do not have the patience to learn how to sew, I still like wearing clothes.  At least during our podcasts.  For the most part.

We must also admit that we are moving well away from the typical beige box that dominated the 90s and early 2000s.  Manufacturers have a much better eye for not only functionality, but also aesthetics.  No longer do we have the hulking CRTs of yesteryear, and neither do we have the large boxes that are nearly indistinguishable from one or another.  Multiple form factors abound and these large manufacturers have design teams that pay very close attention to things like compatibility, power consumption, and thermal dissipation.  With these things in mind, they are able to create unique devices that not just serve the needs of consumers, but also just simply work.

Apple has been at the forefront of this type of design for quite some time.  This is a company that has prized fit, finish, and functionality far more than they have pursued cost cutting and homogenization.  This has lead to much higher margins for the company, and a nearly rabid following by the people buying their platforms.  We certainly can argue that they probably perfected the “all-in-one” machine back in the Macintosh days, and since that time they have not stood still.  The iMac was a further advancement in that field, but the introduction of relatively inexpensive and large LCD panels allowed them to further shrink the all-in-one.  It also allowed them to further sculpt the design into what we see today.

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Everything is nicely supported in the box.

Obviously people around the industry have noticed this trend, and noticed the devoted following of the Apple consumers.  It is hard to miss.  The world is a big place though, and surely there are people who crave the type of design that Apple pushes, but do not necessarily want to jump on that particular bandwagon.  Dell has recognized this and created their XPS One lineup of products.  Not everyone wants to run OSX and pay the Apple tax.  If this is the case for a reader, then this might be the product that catches their attention.

Continue reading our review of the new Dell XPS One 27-in PC!!