Dell OptiPlex XE Is a Customizable PC for OEMs, Retail, Hospitals

The Dell OptiPlex XE desktop is unlikely to make it onto many corporate desks. Instead, Dell has designed the PCs to fit under registers and kiosks, or tucked into hospital cabinets. The customizable PCs for OEMs, health care providers and retail offer a long life cycle, a high heat tolerance and self-monitoring capabilities.

Dell introduced the OptiPlex XE, a durable and long-lasting desktop PC for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and retail environments, on Jan. 11. Highly adaptable, offering remote systems management and designed to withstand 24/7 operation, the OptiPlex XE promises a lifecyle of 3.5 years.

"I think today what we want to tell the market is that the right hardware solution shouldn't be a force-fit," Josh Kivenko, marketing manager of Dell's OEM Industry Solutions Group, told eWEEK. "We're coming out with product categories that truly fit the pain categories [of OEMs], which need a partner that can sell them holistic solutions."

In addition to processor and operating system options, the new OptiPlex XE has a remote power button in a location of the user's choice.

On a broader scale, Dell also allows the PCs to be customized, whether it's unique coloring, branded interfaces or particular language setups and keyboards. This enables Dell's customers to meet the needs of each of their customers.

The pain points of OEMs are unlike those of typical IT buyers, said Kivenko.

For example, since they're selling to their own clients, they worry about security, environment and the stability of the PC, which often isn't on a desktop or used by a single person, as well as how the PC will integrate with their own hardware, such as in kiosks or retail point-of-sale stations.

"If someone throws their jacket on top of the system, I want to know I'm protected, because I don't have a person there looking over it," Brian Slaughter, manager of Dell's Retail Solutions Group, told eWEEK.

The OptiPlex XE can withstand high-heat scenarios - with a tolerance up to 55 degrees C, compared to the 35 degrees C of a typical system. It also has basic dust protection, as well as an optional dust filter - think a clothes dryer lint catcher - which can help to reduce downtime in dusty environments, such as retail. Which, said Slaughter, has an 80 to 90 percent overlap with OEM's needs, as well as rampant dust bunnies.

While Dell offers service and support options, through Dell ProSupport and Dell ProManage, manageability is also designed into each PC, said Aaron Levey, a client solutions consultant, with Dell.

"Built into the motherboard of the system is a watchdog timer," said Levey. "What that does is [watch] the applications and the OS, and [the OEM] can set up rules to happen based on certain scenarios." The PC, he said, can be made to, in reaction to a certain scenario, reseat an application, for example, or reboot the whole system, enabling the PC to repair itself when an IT person isn't on site.

The OptiPlex XE supports a variety of peripherals, with up to 10 USB connections, including options for powered USB and power serial. It can run Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, POS Ready or Ubuntu Linux, and security options include full-disk encryption, chassis intrusion alerts and RAID 1 support, which offers redundancy by mirroring data on a second drive.

The OptiPlex comes with an 88 percent efficient power supply, Dell Energy Smart power settings and is Energy Star 5.0 and EPEAT Gold compliant. (The Dell OptiPlex 780, which Dell introduced Dec. 10 and calls the world's smallest fully functional commercial desktop PC with an integrated power supply, shares these energy-efficient credentials.)

Processor options, of which there are three, are based on Intel Core 2 Duo technology and are embedded in the Intel roadmap, so they're globally available chips and offer support for up to a five-year life cycle. This can be particularly meaningful to OEMs whose clients have governmental certification, and so even part numbers on a secured machine can't be changed.

That means the product will be exactly the same for the length of it's lifecycle, said Levey, "Which is a thing we've collaborated with Intel on."

The Dell OptiPlex XE is now available at a starting price of $709.