Dell unveils slew of business desktop PCs

Dell continues to focus on shrinking the size and power consumption of its machines.

The Dell OptiPlex FX160 thin client

The Dell OptiPlex FX160 thin client

Dell Tuesday unveiled a line of business-focused desktops, including machines designed to slash energy consumption and a thin client that uses Intel's new Atom chip.

The four new OptiPlex platforms, including Dell's first thin client, were announced just a few days after Dell showed off its latest Inspiron Mini offering. The Inspiron Mini 12 skirts the line between an ultraportable PC and a laptop, and is described by analysts as a netbook that acts more like a traditional notebook.

With the desktop announcement, Dell continues to focus on shrinking the size and power consumption of its machines, said Jim McGregor, an analyst at In-Stat. "It's becoming more about the quality of experience," he said. "It's getting away from big fans and the noise and all the stuff you kick under the desk. There's still a market for the desktop. It just has to be more usable."

Dell is pushing these computers out into the toughest market it's faced in years.

Even before the recent economic meltdown, IDC analyst Doug Bell had predicted that a lot of desktop and laptop purchases by US companies and consumers will be postponed until 2009. And a Gartner Inc. report issued earlier this month, showed that sales of ultraportable systems are the only thing preventing a sharp downturn in PC sales.

Add to that the fact that consumers and businesses are increasingly turning to laptops instead of desktops and Dell faces a tough time selling these new offerings.

"I can't say there's anything really exciting about desktops," said McGregor. "But Dell, here, is moving toward a usage model. They're designing [the desktops] around the apps, like digital content creation or business apps or gaming. They're focused on apps and how people will use them. It's not a one-size-fits-all situation."

Dell today unveiled 10 new models, including the OptiPlex 960, its flagship, heavy-duty desktop. Compared to previous generations of OptiPlex desktops, this model is designed to use 43 percent less power and be up to 60 percent quieter.

With a starting price of US$399, the OptiPlex 160 is a thin client, which runs Intel's Atom processor.

Intel unveiled the new Atom chips this past June, making it clear that the company is betting heavily on the netbook and embedded small desktop markets. Chris Tulley, a spokesman for Intel, said at the time that the company expects netbook and net-top sales to outpace growth of traditional laptops and desktops.

Dell's new OptiPlex desktops are available worldwide, according to the company.

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