Dell 'Leaked' Laptop Roadmap Seems Fishy to Me

Dell netbooks in the next year may be getting high-definition screens, TV tuners, more RAM, bigger hard drives and various OS flavors. That's the rumor according to several Dell internal documents that leaked over the weekend. However, while the documents look authentic, it seems incredible to me that such a thorough set of documents could be unearthed. Not only that, but as you'll see some of the ideas mentioned seem a little odd to be the real thing.

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The documents show three different models, which include an upgrade to the Mini Inspiron 10 (Bear), a second Mini Inspiron 10 (Tiger) and a souped-up, brand new Mini Inspiron 11 (Argos). The documents were uncovered by the German blog Netbook News, and seem to come from a PowerPoint presentation for Dell employees.

Here's the breakdown of each model:

Dell 1011 (Bear)
Starting Price: $299
Use: 2nd laptop and companion device
Rumored Availability: February 2010

-focused on Internet and e-mail applications
-Intel Atom N270 1.3GHz or 1.6 Ghz processor
-XP or Linux
-512 MB-1 GB RAM
-120 GB or 160 GB HDD or SDD
-almost full-sized keyboard

Dell 1010 (Tiger)
Starting Price: $349
Use: Media Centric 2nd PC and Companion Device
Rumored Availability: February 2010
-focus on Internet entertainment and mobility
-Intel Atom Z series 1.3, 1.6 or 1.8 Ghz processor
-Linux, XP or Vista (Vista requires 2GB of RAM)
-1- 2 GB RAM
-no mention of storage
-10.1" Edge-to-edge screen
-touchpad with gestures
-Options include: GPS/Mobro, built-in TV tuner, 720p HD Display and 6 cell battery

Dell 1110 (Argos)
Starting Price: $499
Use: Small Screen, Ultramobile
Rumored Availability: July 2010
-11.6" screen (optional HD but no mention of resolution)
-250 GB HDD
-2 GB RAM
-Windows Vista only
-very thin and light
-laptop-like performance and keyboard

According to one of the slides, all three of these devices are still in the planning stages so they may change significantly in time. However, the roadmap also details what seems to be two special edition Mini Inspirons. A Mini Inspiron 12 built around NBA superstar Yao Ming, which would be available November 2009, and a Mini Inspiron 9
called QiaoHong available in September 2009. Now, this is where the rumor starts to fall apart and take a detour into Hoaxville. A quick glance through Google reveals that QiaoHong is a Chinese table tennis champion. So except for Dwight Schrute, a ping-pong superstar isn't going to wow the average American consumer. Of course, if both special editions are being designed for China, then Qiao Hong sponsorship makes a little more sense.

One of the Dell slides also makes mention of Picasso covers. It's not clear what that means, but would Dell come out with designer laptop cover to honor Pablo Picasso? I checked Picasso's dates, and according to Wikipedia, 2009 coincides with the beginning of Picasso's "cubist" period. That seems like an awfully strange reason to come out with a Picasso laptop cover, and how popular would Picasso-inspired laptops be anyway?

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The problem, as always with these rumors is that there's just enough detail to be realistic, but just enough strangeness to make you think twice. Dell just came out with the Mini Inspiron 10 and could be looking to capitalize further on the netbook market as it looks ahead.

So what do you think? Will Dell reveal new super netbooks over the next 12 months or is this just another hoax? Or perhaps a brilliant plan by Dell to "leak" info to gain blogger buzz?

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