Confidential paperwork on Dell's upcoming Windows 8 tablet, called the Dell Latitude 10, was leaked by tech site Neowin May 24.
If the document proves accurate, Dell customers can expect an iPad-like tablet with a 10.1-inch high-definition capacitive multi-touch display; an optional stylus; an Intel Clover Trail Atom Dual Core processor; Intel integrated graphics; hard drive and storage options up to a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD); 2GB of double date rate type 2 (DDR2) 800MHz memory; and a two-cell or four-cell swappable battery.
There will also be an 8MP camera on the back and a 2MP camera up front; an audio in-out port and a fingerprint scanner along with a micro USB port and an optional docking station.
Measurements are listed as 10.8 by 7 by 0.4 inches, with a starting weight of 1.57 pounds. The newest iPad, by contrast, measures 9.50 by 7.31 by 0.37 inches, and weighs 1.44 pounds.
"We're seeing more consumer IT spending diverted to alternative mobile computing devices," Dell CFO Brian Gladden told analysts and media during a May 22 earnings call on which Dell discussed profits that had declined by 33 percent year-over-year.
Dell has made no secret of its plans to introduce tablets upon the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 platform, which for now has a still-uncertain arrival date, though October is a popular guess, with the Dell tablets likely following in November.
Pricing information was another detail that the leaked data sheet didn't discloseand a topic that fomented a row among those who commented on the Neowin post, after someone (sarcastically, in one opinion) suggested a $1,500 price tag. What's more likely to be an appropriate price point?
"I think the upcoming flood of Windows/Intel business tablets from the big threeDell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovoare going to be priced in approximately the same range as the original iPads and the premium Android tablets that followed. That is to say, $500 and up," Ezra Gottheil, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research (TBR) told eWEEK.
Business-critical devices with business services, Gottheil added, will justify that kind of pricing.
Unlike in the consumer tablet space, in the commercial arena there tends to be a bit more wiggle roomusually.
"The SSD is expensive, as is the 10.1-inch panel, but the Atom processor and integrated graphics save something. This looks like $500-$800 end-user pricing to me," said analyst Roger Kay with Endpoint Technologies.
Kay added that users will likely buy directly from Dell, rather than through a carrier, so the "subsidy game" doesn't look like an option. Plus, he added, "Dell won't be getting the best deal on the drives and panels. Apple, which has the volume, will. So, there's not a lot of room for Dell to maneuver without losing money."
During Dell's earnings call, Michael Dell suggested that tablets aren't an inexpensive affair. When asked about the impacts of Windows 8 and touch-screen devices on Dell's margins, he answered, "What I can tell you is that we think that the touch-screen products will certainly cost more. They're more in the price points and price bands that we tend to operate in."
Remaining firm on pricing is a Dell priority, TBR analyst Krista Macomber told eWEEK, and she expects Dell to maintain that strategy in the tablet arena.
"To support higher [average sale prices], Dell is leveraging cross-over consumer and business functionality with its devices to target higher-end consumer and business customers alike, capitalizing on the consumerization of IT. Particularly, Dell has a strong midmarket customer base and go-to-market know-how it can leverage to drive adoption of tablets," said Macomber.
"We see evidence that this strategy of cross-over functionality is working with its XPS PC linewhich grew more than 30 percent following the introduction of the XPS 13 Ultrabook during the quarter," she added. "A new tablet and the introduction of Windows 8 could help support this strategy later in 2012 by enhancing Dells story of mobility and productivity."
Gartner research vice president Carolina Milanesi offered a different angle: Whatever it costs, it won't be more than the iPad.
"The iPad is what both consumers and enterprise see as the benchmark, in terms of price and specification," Milanesi told eWEEK. "Of course, Microsoft can command a premium over Android within the enterprise space, due to its appeal to IT departments, thanks to apps compatibility. However, with iPad making more and more inroads, even that premium is decreasing."