Dell is releasing a new high-end, enterprise-class Latitude laptop that utilizes new technology, which allows users to access to their e-mail and calendar without fully booting the notebook's operating system.
The new Dell laptop, the 16-inch Latitude Z600, officially goes on sale Sept. 29. In creating the Latitude Z600, Dell emphasized a thin-and-light design that takes advantage of Intel's low-voltage processors, as well as solid state drive technology.
In the past several months, Dell has been revamping its Latitude laptop lineup in order to address specific markets that are important to the company as it looks to grow its PC business and keep up with the likes of Hewlett-Packard. For example, Dell began promoting its Latitude 2100 netbook as a specific laptop for schools. Dell has also offered rugged notebooks for construction and government workers.
The Dell Latitude Z600 addresses the high-end of these niche markets. Specifically, Dell is targeting the laptops at executives who work in the finance and banking industries.
"There is an opportunity to deliver specific solutions to support specific customer needs," said Todd Forsythe, Dell's vice president of Business Clint Product Marketing. "(The Latitude Z600) is a highly targeted solution for executives on-the-go and for those impression makers... so that can be an executive, a talent agency, a realtor or for some where image and presence is important."
In keeping with the "on-the-go" theme, Dell is introducing a new technology with the Latitude Z600 called Dell Latitude ON. In essence, the technology is a second motherboard within the laptop powered by a secondary ARM processor running Linux, as well as 512MB of memory and a separate Wi-Fi antenna. Without fully booting the notebook, a user can access Microsoft Exchange or Adobe Acrobat PDF files in a read-only mode.
While the Latitude ON technology can save battery life, it cannot access the full Web or allow a user to edit documents. The Latitude ON function is accessed through a second power button on the laptop.
In addition to Latitude ON and some other Dell management and security technologies, Dell focused on giving the new notebook a sleek look. The Latitude Z600 measure 0.7 inches and weighs about 4.5 pounds. The laptop itself is made of a magnesium alloy chassis, zinc hinges with a chrome coating and an aluminum bezel around the keyboard.
Inside, the Dell Latitude Z600 offers a choice of either an Intel SU9600 processor running at 1.6GHz or the SU9400 clocking in at 1.4GHz, as well as an Intel GS45 Express chip set. There is a choice of 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory, and the option for one or two SSD that each support up to a 256GB capacity.
In addition to wireless LAN support, the Latitude Z600 support mobile broadband technology. There are also two USB 2.0 ports but one is shared with the eSATA port. The laptop supports both Microsoft Windows Vista and XP, and Dell plans to support Windows 7 with the notebook as well.
The starting price for the Dell Latitude Z600 is $1,999, which includes a 4-cell battery - that battery offers about four hours of battery life - the 64GB SSD and the Latitude ON technology. Since the Latitude Z600 costs almost $1000 more than a standard Latitude notebook, Dell does not expect to sell these machines in large volumes.
However, the Latitude Z600 does show where Dell wants to take its design prowess when it comes to PCs.
"Super light and thin notebooks are the Corvettes or Vipers of the notebook world," John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research wrote in an e-mail.
"Everyone wants to spend some time driving one." Spooner added. "Not everyone can afford one. Nor do they want to put up with the compromises of using it every day. But there is enough demand to sell enough to make them worthwhile for the company to offer as a product. And they are capable of using the learning from designing these products to make other ones thinner and lighter."