UPDATED: 8/12/08 -- 11:26 a.m. PDT
Today Dell unveils its new take on the business notebook with its "E" family of laptops. Trying to merge consumer sex appeal with business-savvy notebook features is no easy task--but that
Improved Battery Life
One of the promises of the new family is long-life computing. Dell promises "All day computing" with the introduction of the "E" family.
That's where the next buzzword comes in: Express Charge. The notion is that if you plug in the smartphone-sized AC adapter (nice and small compared to most bricks you have to lug around) you can recoup 80% of the laptop's power after an hour of charging.
If true, that will be amazingly handy when you're scavenging through airports trying to find an open outlet. And, it's another interesting design choice that makes it easier for "Digital Nomads" to charge devices through the USB port. Maybe it's just me, but I'm a big supporter of being able to charge my celll phone, MP3 player (or both) through the notebook even while the PC is off.
Speaking of the PC being off, Dell also announced their Latitude On technology. Y'know, instant-on technology. The spokespeople on hand at today's event were extradinarily coy, but the short version is this: Just about every basic function in everyday computing with be accessible in this system-within-a-system at the touch of a button. So, whether you deal with documents, check email, or browse the Web you'll be covered. So, is it
Steve Belt, Dell's Vice President of Business Client Engineering, won't say for sure. He didn't really go into much more detail beyond saying that it's an innovative
He did, however, confirm that
The new ultraportables (E4200 / E4300 -- see below) shipping in September will be the first machines ready for the "On" technology as its made available. Me? I'll be anxious to see how well it works firsthand.
Next up is improved security features. Dell can remotely track and wipe data from a notebook if reported stolen. But they really wanted to push this whole notion of a Control Vault. A separate subsystem, outside pf the operating system, locks down your data (end user credentials, for example). Couple that with contactless smart card reading and what they claim is an improved fingerprint reading and Dell could be making the right moves for catering to the business mobility set.
Design also is important in the new PCs. Dell's new cases are beefing up in some of the right ways. In particular, I'm happy to see a metal hinge and latch system--a step up from Dell's norm--for properly protecting your investment. And, borrowing from Apple's Air (and, technically, from Dell-owned Alienware's gaming notebooks), the new units have
IT managers, on the other hand, will probably appreciate the small and flexible docking-station