Dell says XPS 13 ultrabook exceeds sales expectations

Dell’s first ultrabook is off to a strong start, offering some hope for the new class of skinny laptops.

The XPS 13 ultrabook is selling well above expectations, a Dell executive told CNET this week, offering some hope for the new class of skinny laptops.

“We can’t build enough of them at the moment,” said Sam Burd, vice president of Dell’s Consumer and SMB (small and medium business) product group, speaking about the higher-end laptop announced back in January.

“A little bit less than 3X the expected demand,” he said. Burd declined to be more specific, saying Dell “never” discloses numbers.

Still, an upbeat statement about sales — however nonspecific — is good news. Industry observers are watching the category closely to see if it can succeed and take some of the wind out of the sails of the MacBook Air and iPad. The latter is selling at a blistering pace of more than 10 million a quarter.

“I’m optimistic in the long run about ultrabooks,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst at the NPD Group.

He says PC makers and retailers need to get off the “$399 treadmill” by cutting back on the number of models and making more money off the ones that remain. “Look at the iPad. People are willing to pay $600 or $700 for something that gives them a great experience. Something that looks good and makes them feel comfortable and confident,” he said.

The XPS 13 passes the good-looks test. And it’s thin and light (0.71 inches, 3 pounds).

But it’s not cheap, starting at $999. So, why is it selling so well? “Half the sales of the XPS 13 are coming from enterprise [large corporate] customers. That’s a lot of its success,” Burd said.

And that’s one of the bigger challenges for Dell — to straddle the consumer and corporate markets with a single design. For those who haven’t noticed, Dell is becoming more of a corporate enterprise-centric company and less of a consumer outfit. So, designs like the XPS 13 that appeal to both sets of customers are an imperative.

This trend is sometimes referred to as the “consumerization” of IT: employees bringing their personal devices — like iPads — to work.

Burd says the XPS 13 inherits some of the traits that make the iPad and smartphone so popular. “We took the things that an iPad or smartphone does well, in terms of booting up quickly, being highly mobile…and then took that even further. You can do productivity and not lose anything,” he said, referring to common business tasks like word processing and spreadsheets.

But it’s still corporate-capable. “We can load a company’s image on the system, we can put custom BIOS settings on the system, an asset tag so they can track it,” he said.

This is a different tack than the company took with its original ultrathin laptop, the Adamo. That aluminum-clad, 0.65-inch thick design — announced back in early 2009 — was the first thoughtful response to the MacBook Air from a first-tier PC maker. But it was not marketed alternatively as a corporate workhorse like the XPS 13.

“The [Adamo] design was cutting edge [and] ended up being great looking but an expensive system with less power. It was run off ULV [ultra-low-voltage] processors that at that time were a lot slower,” he said. The XPS 13 — designed in Austin by Dell — uses much faster Sandy Bridge processors today.

What’s next for Dell? “We think touch becomes a pretty interesting option for products that have Windows 8 loaded on them,” Burd said. But that won’t happen automatically. “Touch adds cost…part of it becoming standard is that people need to see the value of that. It’s still a pretty significant added cost, adding capacitive touch,” he said.

And expect more XPS and Inspiron (Dell’s consumer brand) models later. “We’ll have sister, brother products to the XPS 13 that will build out that portfolio and we’ll have a new design language for the Inspiron too,” he said.

Basic CCNA Notes

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Basic MCSE Notes

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Learn Basic But Professional Hardware

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Introduction to the network.


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How to choose six perfect features in a computer.

  • Portability: We all know that lugging around a heavy handbag can be taxing on your shoulder and back. So it’s important to consider size when choosing a computer, especially if you will be traveling with the laptop. Laptops range in both size (from 13-inch to 18-inch screens) and weight (from 3 pounds to 8 pounds).
  • Screen Size: Screen size on a laptop is very much about personal preference. Most screens have the same resolution and clarity regardless of size, but it’s generally known that the larger the screen, the shorter the battery life. Many computers that have screens larger than 16 inches may have only a few hours of battery life, which can make it harder to travel with the laptop. That being said, having a large screen can make watching movies and videos more visually entertaining.
  • The Processor: If the screen is the eyes of the computer, the processor is the brain of the device. The processor is what controls the speed and performance of a laptop. Processors are measured in speed in terms of gigahertz (GHz) and mainly provided by two companies, Intel and AMD. Both types of processors are reliable and powerful, but the majority of laptops, netbooks and desktop computers are powered by various Intel processors, with the Centrino, Pentium and Core processors as the most common on the market.
  • Memory: Otherwise known as “RAM,” memory is like the heart of the computer. Memory is what the computer uses to run applications like iTunes or Microsoft Office, your browser and the operating system (Windows 7, XP, Apple). It’s important to choose a laptop that has 3 to 4 GB of RAM. Netbooks are generally under 3 GB, but this is because the devices are not meant to support complex applications.
  • Hard Drive: The hard drive determines how much storage capacity your computer has. When you download music, store photos and videos, you are taking up your computer’s memory. Generally you should be looking for 160 GB of memory at the very least. But if you do store music and photos/video, you should choose a computer that has at least 320 GB.
  • Battery Life: Always check the battery life for a particular laptop or netbook! As I wrote above, the larger the screen, keyboard and computer, the lower the battery life (the amount of time your computer can keep running on a charged battery). As a general rule, you should aim to buy a laptop with at least three hours of battery life.

In addition to the six key technical factors, there are other features that you may want to consider when purchasing a computer. If you video chat with your family and friends, you’ll want to make sure that your computer has a webcam. If you actively use a digital camera, you’ll want to double-check that your device has a built-in digital media card slot.

How to Pick the Perfect Computer

Over the past 10 years, I’ve gone through seven computers, including desktops, laptops and a netbook. After my relationship with each device ended (more often then not, the computer simply died on me or stopped working), I would promise myself to do my homework and pick a new machine that actually fit my needs. And, of course, when that time came, I found myself uninformed and on the brink of making the wrong decision once again. As a technology reporter, I’ve finally learned from those mistakes and feel confident enough to pick a laptop that works for me.

Learning to choose the right computer might seem like a small victory, but the fact is that many of us spend more time in front of a screen than we do with our families. We rely on computers to stay connected to the world and to organize our lives. Yet understanding the importance of a good computer doesn’t make choosing the right one any easier. The market is inundated with options. Gone are the days when there were 10 laptops to choose from. Today, there are 10 different models from each electronics company at a variety of price points.

I am going to break down the process of choosing a new computer so that when you are ready to buy a new device, you can do so with confidence.

Should I get a Laptop, Desktop or Netbook?

The choice of what type of computer to buy should be based on what you use your computer for and your need for portability.

If you travel often and or want a computer that you can take anywhere, then a laptop is for you. A desktop computer is a good option if you have an office you work out of at home and don’t need to take the computer to other locations.

A netbook is a pared-down computer that doesn’t have a disk drive or much memory. It is largely meant for surfing the Web, checking email, listening to music and casual computing. The downside of the netbook is that it has a smaller screen and a more cramped keyboard. Keep in mind that a netbook is not a replacement for a laptop or desktop computer but merely a companion to these devices.

Should I Buy a PC or an Apple Computer?

This is a common question that many people ask when shopping for a computer. It’s a tough decision, but one that is worth consideration.

PCs tend to be less expensive, while Apple’s offerings are decidedly higher in price (the basic MacBook starts at $999). Apple has a different operating system and interface, which may take some time to get used to and learn. Microsoft, which provides the most popular and powerful operating system for PCs, just released a new version of its PC operating system, Windows 7. Windows 7 is a significant improvement from its most recent predecessor, Microsoft Vista, which had serious compatibility issues.

As a user of both PCs and Apple computers, I would advise anyone to choose an Apple computer if it fits in their budget. The operating system is fast, reliable and innovative. If you have an iPhone, the transfer of songs, pictures, email and other data to your computer is seamless. Plus, Mac computers offer Bluetooth wireless and a host of bonus features that make your life easier. And while expensive, Apple computers have been proven to have a longer lifespan than PCs.

That being said, you can still find high-quality PCs that match the capabilities of a Mac.
Once you’re clear on technical factors and side features, it will be important to weigh each factor based on your plan to use your device.

Android vs. iPhone: How to choose

In many ways, today’s smartphone era is a two-party system. While Windows Phone is finally starting to pick up a little speed, and there are BlackBerry devotees among us, smartphone shopping often boils down to picking between Android and the iPhone. Sure it’s true that they’re head-to-head competitors in many respects, but the two mobile juggernauts offer very distinctly different experiences. We’ll break down what they have in common and where they differ, so you can size up your own needs and find your smartphone soulmate.

The iPhone: The one and only

When people talk about something “on the iPhone” they’re usually referring to a feature of the iPhone’s software, known as iOS. Unlike other smartphones, there’s really just one iPhone, though older versions of the same phone do exist. Apple is also on-point about keeping its devices up to speed on the same software, so it’s way less confusing across the board than Android. Apple’s current generation of iPhone is the iPhone 4S, and before that we had the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and so on. While there’s just one (current) iPhone, you can buy it in black or white, and you can choose how much storage space to spring for.

The many faces of Android

The term Android refers to both Google’s mobile operating system as well as any device running Android. This gets tricky: some Verizon Android phones are branded as “Droids” but Android owners occasionally refer to any Android device as a “Droid,” regardless of carrier. There are Android phones of all shapes and sizes from all four major mobile carriers.

The App Store vs. the Android Market

Getting down to it, apps are the reason most of us buy a smartphone these days. Apple’s App Store is a bustling hub of downloadable games and tools, and it’s widely regarded as the biggest, best app marketplace to date. Apple is known for having a relatively strict and at times arbitrary approach to the apps it lets into the App Store, which has resulted in some controversies in the past. Still, the App Store remains king of the hill.

From the beginning of Android, Google emphasized the “openness” of its mobile OS, and the company doesn’t have the same kind of strict app approval process for its own app hub, the Android Market. Critics of Google’s approach suggest that this system fails to filter out malware, while Android evangelists believe that the laissez-faire approach works itself out.

Either way, the app stores are quite comparable. The iPhone OS has been around for longer, so the iPhone’s store naturally boasts more apps than the Android Market. But increasingly, new and popular apps are being developed in parallel for both platforms, and very few big hits remain exclusive to one store or the other.

Android advantages

A unique advantage afforded by Android is its integration with Google. Gmail’s ubiquity means that just about everyone can benefit from Android’s superior native Gmail app. Beyond Gmail, Android’s version of Google Maps offers some unique and extremely useful features like Google’s Navigation, a GPS-driven, turn-by-turn directions app for the car that’s a solid substitute for a stand-alone GPS system. If you’re plugged into Google’s Web world, you’ll feel right at home on Android.

On the whole, Android is a more flexible OS. If there’s something that bugs you about your phone or some setting you’d like to tweak, odds are an app on the Android Market does just that. Even a simple setting on the phone itself may control what you need. A set of slick apps known as “launchers” can even modify the look and feel of Android entirely. Truly, no two Androids are alike.

Android drawbacks

A criticism frequently leveled at Android is the issue of “fragmentation.” Android fragmentation refers to the existence of multiple versions of Android across many different phones. The current version of Android is nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich and also commonly called Android 4.0 or “ICS”, but many relatively new devices still run an older version of the operating system.

But the plot thickens even further: Android device manufacturers usually offer their own interpretation of Android, via a layer of software known as a “skin”. Skins can come with their own unique look and even skin-specific apps that you wouldn’t find on a phone by a different manufacturer, meaning that a Motorola Android phone will look and function a bit differently from a comparable Android phone made by HTC.

Some of the best known skins include HTC’s Sense, Motorola’s Motoblur, Samsung’s TouchWiz. Unfortunately, it’s these skins that exacerbate the Android fragmentation problem, by making universal, across-the-board Android updates impossible. Since manufacturers need time to make their own twists on “vanilla” Android (a common term for non-skinned Android software), it can be a waiting game when it comes to software updates.

Only one phone family circumvents this entire problem: devices in Google’s Nexus line (most recently the Galaxy Nexus) offer a vanilla Android experience delivered straight from Google. Nexus devices are always first to new Android software.

iPhone advantages

Apple remains firmly confident in its ability to craft the best possible experience for its customers, and as a result, the iPhone is extremely polished. Apple offers a sleek aesthetic and a cohesive, seamless experience on all of its devices, from the iPhone to the iPad and its myriad computers and accessories. This emphasis is very apparent on the iPhone, which is a breeze to use. And it’s no secret that the iPhone 4S (and its predecessor) are arguably the best-looking phones on the market.

With the last-generation iPhone 4, Apple introduced its Retina display technology, making the iPhone the most pixel-rich display on a phone to date. That means an extremely crisp display for web browsing, e-reading, and multimedia. Another iPhone exclusive is Apple’s FaceTime app, which facilitates seamless video chatting between Apple devices. And with the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple has debuted a comprehensive, at times hilarious voice command and search system known as Siri.

While these features are certainly perks, owning a phone that looks great and “just works” is the real winning formula behind the iPhone’s overwhelming success.

iPhone drawbacks

Apple’s general attitude toward its products can prove to be a turn-off for some. The iPhone is less customizable because Apple purports to know exactly what will make your mobile experience the best it can be — and it’s usually right. Naturally, this paternalistic view can rub some would-be iPhone owners the wrong way, particularly when Google espouses the opposite attitude toward Android.

Beyond its approach, the iPhone has now debuted across three of the four major carriers, but T-Mobile loyalists are still out of luck. And to date, no iPhone supports any carrier’s next-gen 4G network, though 4G capability is widely rumored to be built into the next generation device. The iPhone is powerful, but if you’ve got a real need for speed when it comes to surfing the web from the palm of your hand, you’d be well served to look to one of the myriad Android 4G phones. 3G just can’t keep up.

Which is right for me?

Ultimately, making the choice between Android and the iPhone comes down to personal taste. For those who value a high level of customization, an Android device will open up an amazingly flexible mobile world. If you’re seeking a polished smartphone experience at the cost of some flexibility, the iPhone won’t disappoint.


Rumors of Apples focus on 3D technology have been given credence by an intriguing job posting, however signs do not point towards these features appearing on the coming iPhone 5.

Recently, website 9to5Mac posted an article highlighting a job posting from Apple’s careers website for a ‘Computer Vision specialist to strengthen its multi-view stereo research group.’ The posting seems to indicate that Apple is finally making the move towards putting 3D technology, which as of yet they have yet do do despite several Android devices already making strides in that area.The Apple 3D rumor has been around for some time, as the company has bought a long list of 3D patents over the last 12 months, and this latest addition to the rumor mill leads many to believe that the move is now imminent. The form of this technology remains unknown, however. It could follow the moves of HTC and LG by incorporating a 3D camera and displays, or it could move into a more unknown area such as holographic interface.The downside though, is that the rumors do not signal a feature on the iPhone 5 according to those familiar with Apple. Unlike leaked photographs and insider info, speculation based off patents and postings do not typically result in immediate results, and in this case, it appears as though we will have to wait to see what Apple is planning with 3D technology.


New Third Quarter Mini iPad Rumor Supports June iPhone 5 Release Speculation

According to new rumors from Asia, the Mini iPad is set to be released in the third quarter of this year and at a lower price point than expected, which all adds strength to the notion of a sooner iPhone 5 release date.

Net portal NetEase has revealed a story outlining the rumored details of the forthcoming mini iPad, indicating that it will hit shelves at the third quarter of this year, and in order to compete with the upcoming Windows tablets, set for a price of $249 to $299. The consensus on the specs hint that it will feature a 7.85 screen, to meet the competition from Amazon’s Kindle Fire.


These details have possible implications for the release of he iPhone 5, given their release patterns in the past. Typically, Apple releases its smaller devices months in advance of its larger models to avoid an overlap and conflict in sales. In this instance, it could hint at a release date for the iPhone 5 as early as June of this year, if patterns hold true. Not only this, but given its release pattern, we could expect the official announcements for the iTV in 2012 as well.

The smaller screen size of the Mini iPad could hint at another significant feature in the iPhone 5. Steve Jobs has long been known to be skeptical of tablets with small screens, because it positions the product between tablet computer and smartphone, with possible implications on each item’s sales. However, since Samsung have moved into this area without serious effects, it looks like safe ground, but it may mean that the iPhone 5 will not see a screen size increase. Either way, it is exciting news for Apple fans in 2012.

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Millions of Apple fans were disappointed last year when the fabled iPhone 5 actually turned out to be the iPhone 4S, instead of a completely new model. Up until then, the company was faithfully and predictably releasing a new iPhone model every year. Fortunately for Apple lovers everywhere, we could be finally back on track, as a Foxconn recruiting officer hinted at a confirmed release date for the iPhone 5.

Looks like we’ll have our hands on a shiny new Apple phone in June, or so the rumor states. One of the recruiters for Foxconn, the Chinese company that makes the hardware for the iPhones, told the Japanese TV program World Business Satellite that they are “looking for 18,000 new workers for a fifth-generation phone.” Afterwards, the reporter clarified that the recruiter was indeed talking about the iPhone 5, adding that it will be released in June. While this isn’t an official iPhone 5 release date from Apple itself, it’s certainly a claim that deserves some credit, coming from the manufacturer of the phone itself.

The hardware and physical specifications of the phone are just as much of a mystery as the release date, but what we should expect is a completely new look, as Apple introduced in the iPhone 3 and 4 over their predecessors.

Concerning the iPhone 5 release date, this news from Foxconn should be taken with a grain of salt (just like any non-Apple announcement), since similar rumors have been going out as soon as 2 weeks after the iPhone 4S was released. What we do know is that Apple needs to make a strong move with their fifth phone, to recover from the somewhat lukewarm reception of its 4S version. And with Android phones becoming more advanced (and reasonably priced), the pressure is on Apple to really impress with the iPhone 5.

So, while the June rumor for an iPhone 5 release date is certainly exciting, we’ll hang tight until an official notice comes out.

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