Dell aims for gamers with high-end notebook

Dell Inc. launched the XPS M1710 Tuesday, aiming for the gaming market with the company's fastest notebook yet.

Dell moved to solidify its position in the lucrative gaming market Tuesday by launching the XPS M1710, a dual-core processor machine designed to let gamers simultaneously play three-dimensional games while encoding music or scanning for viruses.

The machine, Dell's fastest consumer notebook, also sports a 256M-byte NVIDIA graphics card, 60G-byte hard drive, and up to 4G bytes of memory. It runs Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition, which also allows gamers to use an optional TV tuner for viewing and recording programs.

To make sure gamers see every detail, Dell increased the brightness of the 17-inch widescreen display by 30 percent. The whole thing fits into an 8.75-pound (3.96 kgs) package. But the real selling point is the performance, which is up to 35 percent better than its predecessor, the XPS M170 with Intel's Pentium M chip, Dell said.

This product marks a move by Dell to bid for the allegiance of gamers, who are traditionally very loyal to their favorite brands, said Nicole D'Onofrio, an analyst with Current Analysis.

The company took two steps in this direction in March. First, Dell launched its XPS 600 Renegade desktop PC, then it acquired high-end gaming PC vendor Alienware. Dell makes more money per unit on gaming-machine sales than on consumer PCs like its Inspiron notebook family. The company, for example, priced the Renegade at US$9,930.

The gaming market is also growing fast. This is welcome news for an industry that has watched the average U.S. selling price for consumer retail PCs drop below US$1,000 in the last three months, D'Onofrio said.

With the arrival of dual-core processors, vendors can finally tap into that market with notebooks as well as desktops. That move was lead by specialty vendors by Alienware and Voodoo Computers, and is now being joined by bigger names like Dell and Toshiba, she said.

Dell is selling the XPS M1710 "black model" for US$2,600 with Intel Core Duo T2400 processor and 60G byte hard drive. Among other options for more serious gamers, the "red model" is priced at US$3,400 with a T2500 processor and 80G-byte hard drive.

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