Dell, Re-Energized, Introduces Venue Tablets, New XPS Laptops

Dell, saying it wants to be a major player in the tablet market, introduced four Venue devices, alongside new XPS laptops with world-leading specs.

Dell says it's going back to being private so that it can be "fast and focused." At a New York City event Oct. 2, it showed off two areas where it plans to apply both: tablets and laptops.

Dell introduced three new XPS laptops, each setting an industry record (per Dell) and four Venue tablets, with choices between Android and Windows 8.1.

"Our goal is to deliver the best experience you can get with any product out there, bar none," said Sam Burd, vice president of Dell's personal computer group.

Dell gave some analysts an early look at its tablets, and before introducing them to the New York crowd, Neil Hand, vice president of tablets and performance PCs at Dell, was delighted to share that analyst Rob Enderle, of the Enderle Group, had found them "damned sexy"—an opinion Hand surely shares.

The Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8 are 7-inch and 8-inch Android-based tablets running Intel Atom "Clover Trail" processors. Priced at $149 and $179, respectively, Hand said they offer "great value, great features and great design ... and will last for a really long time."

Alongside them, Dell introduced an 8-inch Venue 8 Pro and an 11-inch Venue 11 Pro, both running Windows 8.1. These two are built on Intel Atom quad-core processors code-named "Bay Trail," with the Venue 11 Pro offering up to a Core i5 processor, as well as Intel VPro for manageability.

"We wanted to build flexibility into the design and make it extremely affordable," Hand said of the Venue Pro 8. "This is a $299 tablet with full Windows 8 Pro capabilities, expansion options, pen capabilities and it weighs less than 400 grams [or 0.88 pounds]. It's the world's thinnest 8-inch Windows tablet."

The Venue 11 Pro weighs less than a pound and a half and can be paired with a case that includes a full keyboard with physical feedback (which is to say, it's more like the Type keyboard Microsoft offers for its Surface, than the Touch keyboard.) Another option is a Travel Keyboard accessory, which offers an even truer laptop experience and brings the device's battery life up to 17 hours, while a third option—ideal for security-sensitive industries such as financial, health care, government—includes a fingerprint reader.

"We think it has the greatest flexibility of anything on the market today," said Hand.

Alongside the Venue tablets Dell introduced Pocket Cloud, a software solution intended to enable better communication between devices. For example, a user could take a photo with his smartphone and then show it off on his tablet.

Hand pointed out that the tablet market is expected to have nearly a billion users by 2017 and said that Dell is "dedicated" to growing a tablet business and being a leader in the space.

"By dedicating the energy, time and organization activities behind the Venue brand," said Hand, "we plan to be a major player in the tablet market for years."

New XPS Laptops

Dell's XPS laptop lineup, which Burd said is intended to "meet and exceed" the needs of Dell's "toughest customers"—Millennials—now includes the XPS 13, "the most compact 13-inch laptop on the planet"; the XPS 15, the first laptop in the world with a Quad HD+ display; and the XPS 11, the "world's thinnest, lightest and most compact two-in-one Ultrabook" on the market, according to Dell.