Engadget snagged what appear to be some top secret slides that shed a little light on Dell’s upcoming low-cost ultraportable laptop series. The slides seem to have been leaked in violation of a non-disclosure agreement, and it’s entirely possible that these specs aren’t set in stone yet. But here’s what we can glean from them:
- Dell’s working on two models, an 8.9 inch version and a 12.1 inch model.
- They’ll be called the Dell E (which sounds a bit too much like “deli” if you ask me and the E Slim, with the larger “Slim” model looking a bit more like a Macbook Air than an Eee PC.
- It looks like Dell could be ready to start shipping the first of these computers in August.
- The cheapest device will cost just $299.
It looks like the 8.9 inch Dell E will come in three varieties, with a Dell E Classic, a Dell E Video and a Dell E Video+. All three models will sport an 8.9 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Diamondville CPU, and 802.11g WiFi. The E Classic will sport just 512MB of RAM, and a “4GB flash HDD,” which I assume is a clever way of saying SSD. This version will not have a 0.3 megapixel webcam, and presumably is the $299 model.
The Dell E Video comes with 1GB of RAM, 802.11g WiFi, and 8GB “flash HDD,” and a webcam. The Dell E Video+ also has 1GB of RAM, but 12GB of storage, WiFi, a webcam, and Bluetooth.
The 12.1 inch Dell E Slim has a 1.3Ghz Silverthorn CPU, 1GB of RAM, an 8GB SSD or 40GB HDD, 802.11g WiFi, and a webcam. The Dell E Slim+ sports a 1.6GHz Silverthorn CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 60GB HDD, a webcam, 802.11g, and Bluetooth.
The Dell E weighs 2.2 pounds and measures 0.82″ to 1.22″ x 9.13″ x 6.9″. It will be available in three different colors, and sport a 4 cell, 35WHr battery with an estimated 5 hour battery life.
The Dell E Slim weighs 2.6 pounds and measures 0.83″ to .94″ x 11.8″ x 9.1″. It’ll come in 2 or three colors, and come with a choice of a 3 cell, 26WHr battery or a 6 cell, 52WHr battery, rated for 4.5 to 9 hours of battery life.
Now for the truly interesting part. Each machine seems to run something called Blacktop, which appears to be similar to the Splashtop Linux interface Asus is installing on its motherboards. What this means is that you’ll be able to access some computer functions within seconds of hitting the power button, without waiting for Windows or another operating system to fully load. Dell’s slides describe these computers as “always on.”
Engadget says the Dell E series will run Windows XP, but I think it’s more likely that Dell will install Linux by default both to keep the price down, and to improve performance. One of the slides clearly states that “While XP can be installed on an MID, if a customer needs the usual XP experience, then they should look to Vostro or Latitude). It’s interesting that Dell is refering to these clamshell, laptop-like devices as MIDs or Mobile Internet Devices, since Intel seems bent on using that name to describe a new category of small tablet-shaped devices.
Bearing in mind that these slides may be completely bogus, what do you think? Does Dell’s first foray into the mini-notebook market look like an Eee PC/Acer Aspire One/MSI Wind/HP Mini-Note killer? Or is it going to be hard for any company that’s waiting until August to officially launch a product to gain a foothold in this space?