Dell Venue 11 Pro: The anti-iPad

My first impression of the Dell Venue 11 Pro is positive. It's very different from the iPad Air but that's OK.

The Venue 11 has a gorgeous 10.8-inch -- an unusual size -- 1,920x1,080 IPS display, and the model I'm using is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom Z3770 "Bay Trail" processor with 2GB of memory.

(See updated impressions of the Venue 11 Pro.)

And Dell bundles Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 with the $500 tablet (64GB version).

I've been using it for about a week and the 64-bit Bay … Read more

Four months in, Windows 8 needs help

After four months of tepid Windows 8 PC sales, maybe it's time for Microsoft to make a few changes.

During a conversation I had this week with IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell, he volunteered the following statement, which sounded strangely like my experience.

There were certain decisions that Microsoft made that were in retrospect flawed. Notably not allowing people to boot into desktop mode and taking away the start button. Those two things have come up consistently. We've done some research and people miss that.

And there are a lot of people that as soon as they boot … Read more

Windows 8 wrestles with PC's legacy

I'm by no means the first one to say this but Windows 8 and older PCs make an odd couple.

But let me back up for a second. Before the release of Windows 8 on October 26, I tested Windows 8 on tablets only, such as the Intel-based Samsung slate that Microsoft sold in its stores. And I was impressed with Metro.

That was then. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit is now installed on my Dell Adamo laptop. And I rarely venture into the Metro UI unless if I'm forced to.

Of course if you're one of the … Read more

Beware the allure of Apple's Retina Displays

Apple's Retina Displays are drop-dead gorgeous. But be careful what you wish for.

Like many, I got the third-generation iPad because of the 2,048-by-1,536-pixel-density Retina Display. And, like many, I didn't see a huge difference at first.

That was then. Now it's painful to pick up my Dell laptop with its 1,366x768-pixel 13.3-inch display and Windows 7 fonts (note: font-smoothing utilities go just so far).

And while my 11.6-inch MacBook Air fares better than the Dell (it packs the same number of pixels but into a smaller area giving it a higher PPIRead more

XPS 13, Dell's first ultrabook, released

Dell's first ultrabook, the XPS 13, is now available. And it's attracting a lot of attention as one of Dell's best laptop designs to date.

The XPS 13 boasts solid specs for the base $999 configuration, is priced well below the MacBook Air, uses a smaller footprint than 13-inch competitors, and taps carbon fiber materials in the chassis to keep the weight below three pounds.

And Dell will announce Tuesday that it is seeing lots of demand already. "We're seeing strong consumer and business demand for the new XPS 13," said Michael Tatelman, Dell Vice President and General Manager of Americas Consumer, in a statement to be released Tuesday.

The XPS 13 wil also be sold at Best Buy from Tuesday.

Starting at $999.99, it comes -- at that price -- with a 13.3-inch/300-nit/1,366x768 display squeezed into a 12-inch chassis (roughly), an Intel Core i5-2467M processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000, a 128GB solid-state drive, 4GB of memory, backlit keyboard, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit. It is 0.71 inches at its thickest point.

Other standard features include a 47WHr 6-cell battery (built into the laptop and not replaceable by the customer) rated at a maximum of over eight hours, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0, mini Display-Port, 1.3-megapixel Webcam, and dual-array digital microphones. … Read more

Dell to take another shot at MacBook Air

Dell is going to go after Apple's MacBook Air again, part of its broader strategy to take on the entire MacBook line.

The new ultraslim laptop could come around the CES time frame, according to industry sources familiar with Dell's plans.

There was also a separate report this week that said Dell is prepping an Ultrabook--the Windows camp answer to the MacBook Air. Whether the rumored Ultrabook is the same laptop that Dell sources are referring to is unclear.

Whatever the case, it is all part of a broader Dell push to take on the MacBook line. This week, the Round Rock, Texas-based company announced the XPS 14z, aimed squarely at the 13-inch MacBook Pro. (Dell claims its bezel-less display design makes it close to a 13-inch MacBook Pro in size.) And, in May, Dell brought out the XPS 15z that targets the 15-inch MacBook Pro. … Read more

A black MacBook Air or just a wish list?

Here's an enticing rumor: a black MacBook Air. But is this a real rumor or simply the manifestation of somebody's wish list masquerading as rumor?

Apple enthusiast site MacRumors scored the MacBook rumor of the day with this intriguing prospect. However, don't take the rumor too seriously yet as MacRumors throws in more than the usual rumor qualifiers and a report on 9to5Mac states that "a reliable source has told us that they haven't seen any black in the new MacBook Air materials."

Another thing to keep in mind: Be careful what you wish for. Black can be a vexing color on metal. The Dell Adamo--an all-metal ultrathin design that competed with the Air--also came in jet black and was a magnet for fingerprints. I used a black Adamo for a few weeks, and after a day of heavy use its pristine black exterior became a fingerprint mosaic.

And that may be one of the reasons Apple has yet to release a black Air or MacBook Pro. That said, this hasn't stopped Samsung. Its Series 9 is both black and metal. So, Apple could possibly offer this as an option for those with Samsung Series 9 envy, considering the rivalry between the two. And it wouldn't be unprecedented. Remember the black MacBook?Read more

How the defunct Dell Adamo led to the new XPS 15Z

Just more than two years ago, Dell introduced one of its most unlikely products ever. The Adamo laptop was stylish, it was expensive, and it wasn't around that long. The product was killed less than two years after its very splashy debut.

On Tuesday, Dell is set to announce the XPS 15Z, a $999 laptop that is in many ways a descendant of the Adamo. While the XPS 15Z lacks the same daring design and sleek profile, it's much more in line with what people have come to expect from Dell nowadays: some thoughtful style, decent quality, but … Read more

Dell video teases upcoming 'ultrathin' laptop

Dell has released some revealing multimedia as it prepares to announce a new 15.6-inch ultrathin laptop later this month.

As CNET reported earlier, the new ultrathin will be the first in a line of laptops designed in the spirit of the company's discontinued Adamo brand.

And with a 15.6-inch screen size, it will be the thinnest in this class of laptops, claimed sources familiar with the product.

Built around the the latest Intel "Sandy Bridge" Core i5 and Core i7 processors, the ultrathin will have a high-resolution display, be crafted from special materials, and come … Read more

New Dell premier laptop to be sleek, fast

Dell will introduce a sleek new laptop in the coming weeks--the first in a line designed in the spirit of the company's erstwhile Adamo brand, according to sources close to Dell.

The new line will debut at 15.6 inches and be the thinnest in this class of laptops, according to the sources. Dell's initial model will pack the latest Intel "Sandy Bridge" Core i5 and Core i7 processors, have a high-resolution display, and be crafted from special materials--all for less than $1,000.

Though branding was not specified, the line will be positioned as a "prosumer" product that has plenty of performance for business users but also "style and beauty" for consumers, according to the sources.

The elegantly designed Dell Adamo, an ultrathin laptop that was discontinued earlier in the year, was criticized in some quarters for underwhelming performance--criticism that Apple's original MacBook Air also received.

Dell's new line, however, will be both thin and fast.… Read more