Dell, Digital roll out new models

Dell Computer Corp. and Digital Equipment Corp. this week will introduce notebook computers - including models based on the new Intel Corp. Tillamook 233 MHz chip - that help fill out and refine their product strategies. Dell is rolling out a lighter thinner version of its Latitude line of computers with a slew of technology enhancements designed to improve its appeal to corporate and agency customers Dell officials said.

Digital meanwhile is filling out its HiNote product line with a midrange notebook that has more power and features than its HiNote VP Series 500 but is less expensive than the fully loaded HiNote Ultra 2000. Both vendors offer Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Windows NT.

The introduction of the Latitude CP follows Dell's introduction in September of the Inspiron brand which is a line of notebooks aimed at power users looking for the latest technology.

With the Latitude CP Dell is targeting large business accounts more interested in full-featured but stable product lines said Sharon Francis director of worldwide product marketing for portable products at Dell. "We are making sure we have included the right features and the relevant technology for the products " Francis said.

The Latitude CP is a more streamlined version of Dell's older notebooks the company said. The new notebook is about 1.5-inch thick - an inch thinner than its predecessors - and weighs 5.3 to 5.8 pounds depending on its configuration this is about 2 pounds lighter than previous models according to Dell.

Dell also has made it possible to have two batteries providing six to eight hours of operation with an ExpressCharge feature that can recharge a battery in about an hour when the system is turned off.

The Latitude CP comes in three standard configurations with variations in processor speed (166 MHz or 233 MHz) screen size (12.1-inch Super VGA TFT LCD and 13.3-inch XGA TFT LCD) and the amount of Level Two cache (256K or 512K). All models come with 32M of memory a 2.1G hard drive a 20X CD-ROM drive a 128-bit graphics accelerator two PC Card slots and a three-year limited warranty.

Prices range from $3 499 to $4 699. Pricing for the General Services Administration schedule was not available.

Despite its overall success in the PC market Dell has not been very competitive with its notebooks according to analysts. IDC Government ranked Dell seventh overall in notebook sales to the federal government for fiscal 1996. While companies such as Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. have concentrated on this market "I don't think this has been a focus for [Dell] " said Payton Smith a research analyst at IDC Government.

Digital's HiNote VP 700 Series is also targeted at large business accounts. It ships with 233 MHz processors a 13.3-inch XGA screen a 4G hard drive 32M of memory and two card slots. Proposed GSA prices range from $3 635 to $5 172 depending on the configuration.

Additionally Digital is offering a three-year warranty with next-day guaranteed on-site service. "This is something [management information systems offices] in both corporate and government accounts have been pushing us on for a long time " said Brian Mullins Digital's director of mobile business for North America. "They don't tolerate a lot of downtime."

Although not a ruggedized computer the 700 Series like the 500 Series is designed for highly mobile users looking for durability and Digital expects interest from its Defense Department customers said Kim Spanarelli the marketing manager for Digital's federal personal systems group.

In addition to putting the new notebooks on the GSA schedule Digital also will look at adding it to other federal contracts or blanket purchase agreements Spanarelli said.

Digital has needed this midrange offering in its product line said Andrew Seybold editor in chief of "Outlook " a newsletter that focuses on the mobility marketplace. In filling that hole "they did a nice job " Seybold said.

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