Prior to the holidays, I published a commentary on a blog by Dell COO and co-chairman Jeff Clarke here in eWEEK that expressed his thoughts on six trends that would shape the tech industry in 2020 and the coming decade. Among them was the emergence of increasingly intelligent devices that will change the way that people work and collaborate.
At CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas, Dell’s client computing organization demonstrated how the company will deliver on those trends with new and enhanced solutions that expand the boundaries of what businesses and consumers can expect from notebook PCs and peripherals, including devices that increasingly personalize users’ experience. Let’s consider two of the products Dell announced; the new premium Latitude 9000 line and an updated version of its popular XPS 13.
The evolution of outward-facing, internally enhanced endpoints
New technologies and features have long been panaceas in the IT industry, since they emphasize the constant, continuing evolution of tech vendors, along with the material improvements their products provide to customers and end users.
But the rise of cloud and other remote services means that the inherent value of new PCs and other endpoint offerings increasingly depends on their ability to successfully access and collaborate with external sources. In many cases, this means tapping into public cloud platforms, such as AWS and Azure, and SaaS solutions, from de facto standard platforms like Microsoft Office 365 to specialists such as ServiceNow to powerful business suites, including Salesforce.
However, vendors are developing powerful in-house solutions to amplify the value of their own solutions. For example, Dell has long offered automated software and firmware updates for its PCs and notebooks, but the solutions designed for its Latitude line highlight the critical importance of product flexibility and reliability for business customers.
Some of those features are tied closely into the company’s ProSupport services while others leverage optional partner technologies, such as Intel’s vPro remote management solutions. Other enhanced business user options, including custom configuration, deployment and management services are tied into the Unified Workspace lifecycle management and Technologies On Demand solutions that Dell debuted last year.
Latitude 9510: Delivering increasingly 'personalized' computing
The company’s new Latitude 9000 line highlighted at CES drives Dell’s premium business notebooks into both very familiar and substantial new directions. In the former case, the company continues to imbue Latitude solutions with features developed for its signature XPS notebooks, including better battery life and innovative designs that manage to fit ever larger Dell Infinity displays into ever thinner and lighter form factors.
In the case of the new Latitude 9510, that means squeezing a 15.6-inch, 16:9, 1920 x 1080 display into a 13.4 x 8.5 x 0.6~0.7-inch frame with weight starting at 3.2 pounds. Dell claims that the 9510 can deliver up to 30 hours of battery life. Along with featuring the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, the company emphasized that the 9510 is both 5G ready and supports LTE options for users that need to stay connected wherever they go.
Also announced was the new Dell Optimizer which it calls an “industry first” built-in and automated AI-based optimization solution that enables system performance to be tuned according a user’s personal habits and preferences. Features include:
- ExpressResponse which leverages user preferences and machine learning processes (supported by Intel Adaptix) to launch frequently used applications faster, switch quickly between applications and improve overall application performance to boost productivity.
- ExpressCharge which utilizes AI and machine learning to improve battery life based on a user’s battery charge patterns and power usage habits. It also supports ExpressCharge Boost, which provides up to a 35% charge in 20 minutes to get systems up and running quickly.
- ExpressSign-in senses a qualified user’s presence, enabling faster, secure log-in via Dell’s PC proximity sensor enabled by Intel Context Sensing and Microsoft Windows Hello.
- Intelligent Audio allows users to hear and be heard better on conference calls by helping to eliminate echoes and background noise.
The Dell Latitude 9510 will be available globally on March 26 in both notebook and 2-in-1 configurations, starting at $1,799.00. I plan to write an in-depth consideration of the 9510 soon.
New XPS 13 9300 features a virtually borderless InfinityEdge display
Dell introduced QHD+ InfinityEdge displays in 2015 with the XPS 13 9343, a move that quickly drove competitors to develop notebooks with similarly thin bezels. The company has steadily improved InfinityEdge since then, most notably in last year’s XPS 13 9380, which positioned a new tiny webcam at the top of the display. Over time, Dell has incorporated InfinityEdge in other product lines, including Latitude and Inspiron notebooks, and its UltraSharp displays.
The new XPS 13 (9300) introduced at CES 2020 includes a larger 16:10 InfinityEdge display with narrow bezels on every side, further reducing its borders and enabling a smaller and thinner form factor than previous XPS solutions. Along with squeezing more premium display goodness into less and less space (this new model enables a 13.4-inch display to fit into an 11-inch frame), Dell’s innovations also have practical benefits: the new XPS 13 fits neatly on a standard airplane tray, a point that business travelers should appreciate.
XPS 13 customers will enjoy Intel’s latest (10th-generation) Core processors and the blend of power, performance and long battery life that executives, business owners, travelers and creatives have come to expect from Dell. The new system also offers significant new enhancements, including a larger touchpad, an edge-to-edge keyboard and one-handed opening function. Finally, the new XPS 13’s packaging continues Dell’s commitment to more sustainable materials, making it easier for customers to recycle.
Dell’s XPS 13 featuring Microsoft Windows 10 starts at US $999.99. It became available in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, UK, Germany and France on Jan. 7 and will become available globally in February. The XPS 13 Developer Edition featuring Ubuntu 18.04LTS starts at $1,199.99, available in the U.S., Canada and select European countries on Feb. 17.
Dell’s new Latitude 9510 and XPS 13 deliver both expected and unexpected benefits. The former solution is particularly impressive, which is not surprising since it qualifies as the first iteration of a new line of premium business notebooks. While the Latitude 9510 continues the company’s history of successfully leveraging features developed in other product lines, the most significant innovations are “under the hood” in the Dell Optimizer’s AI- and machine learning-enabled functions. If these new technologies perform and succeed as the company intends, I expect they will eventually provide the foundation for ever more personalized solutions in other Dell products.
Some might consider the improvements in the new XPS 13 to be essentially incremental and cosmetic, but I believe that shortchanges what Dell has achieved with this standout product line. Simply put, the arrival of the first XPS 13 early in 2012 marked a commitment by Dell to expand its vision of personal computers and to explore and develop new technologies that would set it apart from individual competitors and the larger PC industry.
In some cases, those new features and functions mark substantial or even radical departures from what the company did before. In others, they simply serve to make life and work easier for consumer and business users. All reflect Dell’s technological excellence but also reveal the company’s insights into the needs of its customers’ requirements and needs. That should serve the company well as the market for increasingly intelligent devices grows and Dell’s commitment to increasingly personalized computing continues.
Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK. © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.