We've recently seen the growing importance of tablets for the PC market, and Dell is looking to turn around fresh losses with a barrage of Windows 8 devices. The specs for the first models have been leaked, showing us what to expect come the OS launch.
Windows 8: The Tablet Prize
Recent research has shown tablets becoming an increasingly dominant form of consuming and even creating content, overtaking the smartphone and, in coming years, likely to threaten the traditional notebook and desktop PC.
Some recent Adobe figures shows the massive lead of iPads over all other tablets, something that Microsoft hopes to change with the release of Windows 8 (which Microsoft is ramping up the hype for), Windows RT and a new army of devices from its partners (generic mockup pictured). Lead among those will be Dell, who's recent first quarter results saw reduced profits and revenue, which sparked a big stock price drop.
A post up on NeoWin of a Dell site spec sheet shows that the company's lead Windows 8 tablets, currently called the Dell Dimension 10, shows dimensions broadly similar, if a tad larger, to the iPad with a 10.1" screen in a unit 10.8" wide, 0.4" thick and weighing just over 1.5lbs.
Inside is an Intel Clover Trail dual-core Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, with storage options heading up to a 128GB SSD drive. There is also a choice of battery with a regular 30watt hour or long-life 60 watt hour promising around 10 hours use. No word on price, or if Windows RT will be an option.
Pushing Apple, Amazon and Rivals
With HP (who just let 27,000 workers go) also keen to win Windows 8 tablet business, plus intense competition from Android players, and Apple's iPad, Dell will be looking for any edge to sell to users and IT departments.
The swappable battery and massive storage of an SSD are key features, and essential to the enterprise or business user. Expect a full docking solution to help turn it into an ad hoc notebook or desktop. With a wider range of components, Dell might also pick up sales among power users, but it will need a super-resolution screen and far cooler branding before attracting consumers who see Apple as the leading light.
On the OS front, Windows 8 is appealing to a different audience to iOS 6, but with increasing use of cloud and virtualization, the tablet could increasingly become a blank slate for users to pick what apps and content they see. Price will be the key issue when it comes to selling units and it is here that Dell and other Microsoft partners will have to prove themselves, especially if Apple's iPad mini moves from rumor to reality.
If there's any room in the budget for materials, styling and extra design touches, they will have to go some to touch the efforts of Samsung (who's Galaxy S III looks pretty hott) and Apple who have all kinds of clever design gizmos back in the labs.
The XPS One 27, an actually officially announced product, shows Dell taking on Apple's ideas further with a very iMac like device. With a same sized-screen, it outpaces the iMac with the latest in Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors and Blu-ray. Configurable up to 16GB of RAM and 32GB of SSD storage, it is a pretty sight on any desk.
But you have to wonder, given the massive rise in notebook sales over desktops, the forthcoming ultrabooks, and the constant rise in tablet sales, if this model (starting at $1,399) will make a dent in the market? Why compute in one place when you can go anywhere with a cheaper, just as good device?