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Dell targets younger audience with 360-degree laptops and thin, light All-in-One PCs

Michael Brown | June 3, 2014
Dell needs an image makeover, according to Jonathan Guttell, Director of Global Consumer Messaging at the now privately held PC manufacturer. "Seventy percent of family computer-buying decisions are driven by high-school and college kids. And their perception is that Dell makes the products that they use in school or that their parents use at work," he said. "We're not fun." The new hybrids, all-in-ones, and tablets Dell announced on Monday at Computex in Taipei kick off the company's efforts get the kids excited about its brand.

Dell needs an image makeover, according to Jonathan Guttell, Director of Global Consumer Messaging at the now privately held PC manufacturer. "Seventy percent of family computer-buying decisions are driven by high-school and college kids. And their perception is that Dell makes the products that they use in school or that their parents use at work," he said. "We're not fun." The new hybrids, all-in-ones, and tablets Dell announced on Monday at Computex in Taipei kick off the company's efforts get the kids excited about its brand.

"Devices have become part of the wardrobe" of these young decision drivers, according to Guttell. Looking at the new Inspiron-series 2-in-1 laptops, that wardrobe apparently includes Yoga pants. One of the most notable features of Dell's upcoming 11- and 13-inch Inspiron-series 2-in-1 laptops are 360-degree hinges that allow them to be used in tablet, easel, tent, and conventional laptop modes — just like Lenovo's Yoga-series notebooks.

Dell isn't the first manufacturer to imitate Lenovo's engineering, of course; HP launched its free-swingin' Pavilion x360 laptop at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Toshiba announced its fully rotatable Satellite Radius just last week. Guttell told me the new designs being announced at Computex are the result of "an attitude change with Dell going private. The company is taking more risks."

2-in-1 laptops

The Inspiron 11 3000 series is an entry-level 2-in-1 hybrid that will be available June 19, with prices starting at $450. Dell will offer multiple configurations with Intel Bay Trail-class processors (dual-core Intel Celeron N2830 or quad-core Intel Pentium N3530) and 4GB of DDR3L/1333 memory. They'll have 11.6-inch IPS touchscreens delivering resolution of 1366x768 pixels, 720p webcams (with Skype preloaded), and 500GB hard drives. Optical drives will be optional. A single-stream 802.11n wireless networking adapter comes standard, but buyers will have the option to upgrade to Intel's Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 802.11ac adapter.

Connectivity options will be somewhat limited, but what's there is good: You'll get HDMI 1.4a, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a media-card reader. But you'll need a USB adapter for hardwired ethernet. Bucking the trend of sealing up laptops, the Inspiron 11 3000 series will have removable batteries (a three-cell, 43WHr battery comes standard). Dell promises they'll deliver more than eight hours of use on a single charge. The Inspiron sample Dell showed me looked attractive and well made. It was 0.76 inches thick and weighed 3.07 pounds.

Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 series laptops will be outfitted with the same type of hinge, but these 2-in-1s will come with 13.3-inch touchscreens offering resolution of either 1366x768 or 1920x1080 pixels, Intel Haswell-class processors (Core i3 or Core i5), and either 4GB of DDR3L/1066 memory or 8GB of DDR3L/1600 memory. Buyers will be able to choose between a 500GB hard drive or a 500GB hybrid hard drive with 8GB of cache. A passive stylus for note-taking will come standard.

 

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