By Nancy Owano / CIO Today. Updated September 17, 2013.
Dell has a new look, feel, and feature set in its consumer laptop lineup that proves looks and names may not be everything -- but they definitely might help move product.
The company made news today with its new Inspiron naming strategy and models that run the gamut from inexpensive to mid-range to upper mid-range.
For starters, Dell has eliminated those tricky letter- and number-cluster names that are easy to forget and confusing. Instead, the new lineup features the Inspiron family name with simplified models in the 3000, 5000, and 7000 series.
Dell aims to make the laptops easier to identify and also aims to attract buyers with new features related to look, feel, and battery life. Dell also took the wraps off its Inspiron 7000 series laptops, which will come with 14-inch, 15.6-inch and 17-inch screens.
The 7000 mid-range machines are designed to impress; depending on screen size, they range from $699 to $1099. They are thin, with attractive aluminum exteriors, backlit keyboards and Gorilla Glass touchscreens.
Intel's Haswell processors represent one of the 7000 series talking points and battery life has also been nicely extended. Battery life is said to range from eight to about 11 or 12 hours, depending on configuration.
Dell is also gunning for quick and sure sales at economy-scale prices with its Inspiron 3000 series. The 11.6-inch 3000s are priced at $349 and $379, with a new look and new features, and will be available October 3.
The good news comes in threes: The 3000 series is a three-pounder (3.15 pounds). The lower $349 price tag is for a machine with an AMD processor, and the prices rises to $379 with an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 chip.
What's the Point?
The new 3000 machines will be running Windows 8.1 and a version of Microsoft Office. Features include Gorilla Glass, USB 3.0 ports, webcam and HDMI port. Battery life, as with the 7000 series, is designed to impress. The $379 version can run for a little over eight hours on a single charge.
The question is: Why the efforts to make laptops light, attractive, powerful and fairly priced when analysts point to 2013 as a post-PC era, with vendors such as Dell and HP sliding down the slope only to greet tablets, smartened smartphones, and phablets on their way back up?
Surveys show PC sales dropping quarter after quarter. The answer might be that Dell is banking on the fact that, as a PC pioneer, it knows its product well, and that laptops and notebooks, if not desktops, still have some life left in them.
After a shareholder battle, company founder and leader Michael Dell is just as energized, if not more, to compete aggressively. In a letter earlier this year to rally his troops, Dell said, "We have plans to significantly increase investment in our PC and tablet business to enhance our ability to compete. While Dell's strategy in the PC business has been to maximize gross margins, following the transaction, we expect to focus instead on maximizing revenue and cash flow growth with the goal of improving long-term sales and competitive positioning."