BERLIN: 2017 WAS Dell's fifth year at IFA, and it had a varied (if not sparkling) product lineup. We were told that the company is focusing on building a presence for small business users, which we saw in the refreshed 7000 notebook series.
Actually, the most interesting product (which we define as 'One that made journalists say "wow"') was Dell's new laser projector. Like Sony's Lifespace, launched several years ago, it can throw a massive (100-140 in) image from just 4in away; and unlike Sony, Dell has gone 4k with the S718QL.
Still, we weren't there to drool over home entertainment, so on to notebooks! The 7000 series has been refreshed with 8th-gen Intel processors, and the 13in and 15in clamshells are now available in a Pink Champagne colour, in addition to Sparkling Silver, and both start at $800. Customers can now choose a 4k screen for the larger model.
On the convertible front, Dell has refreshed its 13in ($850) and 15in ($900) 7000 series models with identical specs to the clamshells: the 13 in features integrated graphics, while the 15 in can have a GeForce 940MX GPU and 4k screen.
All of the new notebooks have an IR camera for Windows Hello, and several use the InfinityEdge design (ultra-thin bezels) that Dell pioneered on the XPS 13 (also on the new XPS 15).
The XPS 13 itself, still one of the company's most popular products, has also gone eighth-gen. Dell worked with Intel to develop a new thermal management solution, which will automatically overclock the machine when needed and activate extra cooling. This is on both the clamshell and 2-in-1 models.
Dell also used IFA to launch the world's first 17 in 2-in-1 - which seemed a bit excessive to us, although the company defended itself by saying that it has found convertibles like this are increasingly being used in 'tent' mode, rather than as detachable tablets.
Starting at $950, the 2-in-1 has a discrete MX150 GPU, eighth-gen Core i5 or i7 processors, 2GB RAM and a 1920 x 1080 display with an IPS panel. Battery life is up to 11 hours. Power is via USB-C, and there is an additional Type-C port as well, along with a USB 2.0 input and SD card reader.
Dell introduced a few AIO PC refreshes at the show, including a new XPS 27 for which the audio was much more than an afterthought: it was actually designed first. The PC has 10 internal speakers, and the other components were then placed around them.
We heard that Dell is working with Oculus and HTC to make some of its XPS products VR-ready; the company expects VR to be "a huge market." It is hoping that Microsoft's Mixed Reality platform will give the technology a boost, and showed off its Dell Visor at the show (click here for our coverage).
Dell, through its ownership of Alienware, has a pretty strong gaming pedigree: it sponsors Team Liquid (all of them play on Alienware products), and expects the market to be worth more than $30 billion next year. The Alienware products are for hardcore gamers, which means that all of the products are built to withstand serious punishment: all Alienware laptops, although they use membrane keyboards, have a steel plate underneath the keys to stand up to the beating that a professional gamer might give to them.
Based on user feedback, Dell is in the process of expanding its Alienware ecosystem to more than computers: it wants to own the entire room. Over the summer it launched a 25 in gaming monitor (watch for our review this month), as well as a mechanical keyboard and highly customisable mouse (the weight, length, grip and DPI levels can all be changed).
There's a lot of competition in the gaming peripherals market, but Dell is concentrating on its existing users to secure share.
You might not know that Alienware also produces headphones; the last pair was released several years ago. This would be the perfect time to refresh that product offering; our subtle questioning ("So, planning to release any more headphones soon?") did lead to hints that Dell has something in the works. Watch this space.
Rather than resting on its laurels after putting out the 25in monitor, Dell plans to launch a new 34 in curved model for gamers this year: a 2560 x 1080 model in September and a 1920x1080 in November. They will be able to reach 120Hz/160Hz, overclocked, respectively, and will optimise their settings to suit the game. µ
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