Dell Inc.s new Latitude notebooks and Precision mobile workstations are built on Intel Corp.s Sonoma architecture, which is the latest version of Intels Centrino chip set, featuring a 533MHz front-side bus as well as a PCI Express bus architecture.
Unlike PCI, PCI Express is a serial link, enabling more data to move through fewer lines than via the parallel delivery of PCI.
Dell added three new models to its Latitude line: the D410, D610 and D810. The D410 is an ultraportable notebook, weighing a little less than 4 pounds. It starts at $1,677.
The D610, weighing in at 4.67 pounds, is priced at $1,384. The D810 includes Dells UltraSharp 15.4-inch display and 128MB of dedicated memory. It weighs 6.5 pounds and starts at $1,549.
Dell says standard battery life on these machines averages about five hours, and the company is also offering an additional nine-cell battery to extend battery life to about nine hours.
Security features on the new notebooks include smart-card readers and TPM (Trusted Platform Module) technology for platform authentication and file encryption on the local drive.
In addition, the notebooks are more secure physically, featuring a trimetal chassis and, for users who tend to keep a cup of coffee next to their notebooks, spill-safe keyboards.
"What they did with the outer casing, to seal the case and [add] the shock absorber and the nitty-gritty in terms of design, really does address things we were seeing," said Stephen Fugale, CIO of Villanova University, in Villanova, Pa., which standardized on Dell computers for students and faculty three years ago. "For example, students occasionally puncture or damage the screen, and some of the design changes alleviate or minimize that."
Notably, many of the new features are already found in competitive offerings. For example, IBMs ThinkPad line includes integrated security chips, security software and fingerprint readers; extended-life batteries; optimized wireless connectivity features; technology for cushioning the hard drive if a machine is dropped or banged; and titanium composite casing for added durability. IBM also offers an ultraportable model that weighs less than 3 pounds.
But while IBM is known for being cutting-edge in the industry, competitors are taking advantage of the fact that the Armonk, N.Y., company recently sold its PC division to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo Group Ltd.
Dells new mobile workstations include the Precision M70 and M20. The M70, which weighs 6.7 pounds, starts at $2,099. The M20 weighs 4.9 pounds and starts at $1,649.
Dell also expanded its services to offer business users a new program to help expedite PC deployment. Under Dells new Weekend Notebook Exchange program, a user can send in his or her notebook on Friday and have data and files from that system transferred to a new notebook by the following Monday or Tuesday.
Dell will reimburse users for their old machines based on market value as well as recycle the old machines.
"The initial purchase of hardware is a fraction of the cost of the hardware," said Steve Myer, vice president of Dell services. "The deployment of new desktops and notebooks often takes too long, costs too much and is too disruptive."
Also new is Dells ComputraceComplete Recovery Guarantee service. Under the new offering, Dell will load Absolute Software Inc.s ComputraceComplete software onto new machines. This software is aimed to help IT departments recover lost notebooks.
If a machine has not been recovered in 60 days, the company will reimburse users $1,000 or 90 percent of the cost of the machine, whichever is less.
The Round Rock, Texas, company also unveiled a new chassis for its OptiPlex workstations on Tuesday. The chassis complies with the European Unions directive for electronics manufacturers to reduce or eliminate chemical compounds, such as lead, in products shipped in the European Union by 2006.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from Villanovas Fugale.