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:

  1. Dell’s working on two models, an 8.9 inch version and a 12.1 inch model.
  2. 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.
  3. It looks like Dell could be ready to start shipping the first of these computers in August.
  4. 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?

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11 replies on “Dell E specs leaked”

  1. i believe its the cheapest
    only 300
    the price will be a key to decide who OEM will be the mini king this year

  2. Is there a chance that the second version will have the dual core atom? That should be worth waiting for.

  3. The Video or Video + models could potentially distract me from my Eee 900 if the SSD is all one module and not broken up into two parts. Will be interesting to find out more about the OS.

  4. if asus had the black 900 at the same time the white came to the US, i would of replaced my 701 (great but for the resolution), now im waiting for dell and the others to come out with their choices before i choose.

    im leaning toward dell.

  5. Coming late into the “netbook” market, I think Dell will be relying on its reputation and the price point they put on their product.

    On the trademark question, letters can indeed be registered as trademarks, look at IBM. In fact Asus has applied to the US Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark “EEE PC” in the stylized form they use and have been opposed by Gateway who argues a likelihood of confusion based on their long prior use and registration of a family of “E” marks for computers and related goods. One would expect Dell to be aware of such procedings and to monitor them before spending time and money on “Dell E”. If they don’t, then they may see Gateway come after them.

  6. I hope the $299 entry point holds; I am a cheap SOB, and I don’t really need one of these things, but it would be a useful one-hand carry-around for when I don’t want to lug and set up my 5-pound MacBook while still having an easier time entering text than on my iPhone. My “needs” (if you want to use that word) are so minimal, though, that what I’m really hoping for from this is that it will drive down prices of the original Eee PC 701. I mean, compare the Dell E Classic’s (alleged) specs and price with those of the Eee PC 2G Surf for the same price! Of course, Asus has so far been pretty hard-line on pricing — compare the 9xx prices with those of the MSI or Acer competitors. Yes, you get more or at least different storage and other specs, but still, $549-$599 vs. $379-$399 for the cheapest configurations? As I said, I’m a cheap SOB, with minimal needs in this space; I’m actually the kind of user the Palm Foleo was to be aimed at, except that I wouldn’t remotely be interested in paying $499-$599 (and anyway after Palm _lost_ my Tungsten T for two weeks when I sent it in for repair, I will never buy another Palm product — customer service is not a “cost center,” but a “profit center” in that it can make or break future sales!).

  7. The only thing I have a hard time believing is that the name is really going to be E. I could see them going with Mini Inspiron. It would be a little weird with the Mini-Note and all, but it’s still different enough…. but to just use E? I would imagine eee pc is trademarked and ASUS would have a strong lawsuit on their hands against Dell. I figured it would be called Inspiron 9xx, since their other models use screen size followed by a version type number. Wait and see I guess…

    1. I’m guessing the name isn’t set in stone. But while Eee is probably
      trademarked, I think it would be difficult to trademark a letter, or even
      the position of a letter in a word or phrase (as in iPod vs. iGoogle).

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