Dell to launch Eee-alike

May 29, 2008 | 09:12

Tags: #eee-pc #laptop #notebook #sub-notebook #ulpc #ultra-portable #umpc

Companies: #asus #dell #hp

If you don't yet feel spoilt for choice in the teeny-tiny laptop market, then Dell's latest may be just what you're looking for.

Gizmodo's Brian Lam managed to buttonhole Michael Dell in the corridor of the D: All Things Digital conference, and spotted him carrying a rather tasty bright red mini notebook, which Lam snapped a photo of before Dell could jam it back into its secretive (and rather Eee PC reminiscent) black jacket.

Figuring that once it's on Gizmodo you might as well tell the world, Dell has since released a couple of images of the machine on its blog. The idea for the notebook appears to have come from Dell's IdeaStorm website, as part of an article entitled “Design a UMPC to counter HP's mini-note 2133”. In that article, the specifications of the theoretical HP beater are listed as 2GB of RAM, an Intel Silverthorne or VIA Isaiah CPU, Vista or Linux as the OS, multiple USB ports, a multi-card reader, choice of 7,200 RPM hard drive or SSD, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, and perhaps most wishfully of all – a graphics solution capable of running Windows Vista in Aero mode.

These specifications have been neither confirmed nor denied by the PC manufacturer, but it's clear that HP's svelte notebook was playing on Dell's mind during the design phase: the two photos released demonstrate scale through having a yellow pencil in the same shot, which is exactly how HP conveyed the size of their UMPC. I guess originality really is dead.

What is perhaps most interesting is comments made by Dell regarding the target audience for the new notebook: the Dell Blog has him describing it as “perfect for the next billion Internet users,” a clear indicator that Dell is looking to expand on its work shifting low-cost hardware to developing nations. Hopefully that doesn't mean that it won't be available to denizens of the UK and US.

Pricing information, final specifications, even confirmation that the thing really exists beyond an engineering prototype and a couple of pictures are not yet forthcoming. Perhaps Dell is looking to scope the market out a bit further before finalising the design, or maybe it's waiting for a large quantity of Atom chips to make themselves available at a reasonable price. Either way, it's clear we'll be seeing more competition in the low-cost ultra-portable notebook market in the not-too-distant future.

What ultra low cost PC – as this new breed of ultra portables seems to be branded – has your eye at the moment? Do you even see the need for such devices outside the developing world? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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