On April 24, Dell began offering a 1.8-inch, 32GB solid state drive option on its ultraportable Latitude D420 and its semi-rugged D620 ATG model.
In a written statement, Chief Technology Officer Kevin Kettler said that the SSD option on these two notebooks was just the beginning and the company would start offering more SSDs “across Dells next generation of Latitude products.”
The SSDs that the Round Rock, Texas, PC vendor is offering are built by SanDisk, which announced Jan. 4 that it would start manufacturing SSDs that could be used as replacements for a standard spinning-disk hard drives.
Once only used by military and telecom companies, several OEMS have started offering SSDs as an alternative to traditional HDDs (hard disk drives). With no moving parts, these NAND flash memory drives offer better stability, generate less noise and heat, and also allow for quicker boot-up time and better data transfer.
Earlier this year, Fujitsu announced that it tapped Samsung to manufacture both 16GB and 32GB SSDs for its laptops. Fujitsu now offers SSD options on two of its business-class notebooks.
In addition to Fujitsu, Samsung demonstrated its own ultra-mobile Q1P notebook with a 32GB SSD at the 2007 CES show in Las Vegas. Apple is also rumored to be working on a sub-notebook and iPod music players that will use NAND flash memory, although the company has declined to comment on its future offerings.
Part of the problem with SSD is price, although some analysts suspect that the average price of SSD may drop as more companies look to adapt the technology into mainstream offerings.
Samir Bhavnani, an analyst at Current Analysis, in San Diego, Calif., said that with flash memory costing about $17 per gigabyte, it cant compete at the moment with traditional memory, which costs about $1.70 per gigabyte. However, that could change as Dell and other OEMs start offering notebooks with this type of technology.
The SSD drive option that Dell is offering with its two notebooks is listed at $549, according to the company.
As for Dell, Bhavnani said that its offering the technology at a time when the company is looking to reinvent itself and make a comeback from the last 24 months, when the PC maker has watched Hewlett-Packard and others take away its market share.
By offering SSDs, Dell is looking to distinguish its notebook from those offered by HP and Lenovo.
While the expense of ordering a notebook with an SSD might still be an expensive proposition, Bhavnani believes that Dell is trying to offer its customers a unique feature and show that it can still be a technologically innovative company.
“Its very important,” Bhavnani said. “Its a small step, but a step in the right direction.”
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from an analyst.