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Dell Unveils Line of Windows 8.1-Based PCs, Tablets

Dell this week took the wraps off its refreshed line of tablets and notebook PCs, including several that run Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8.1.

In an interview during the launch event in New York, Dell officials also confirmed that it no longer plans to support the Windows RT operating system.

"We are not planning to refresh our range of RT products," said Neil Hand, vice president of Dell's tools and performance PC group. "We've had them on the market for a year. Right now we're focused on the full Windows products."

Dell recently took its Windows RT-based XPS 10 tablet off the market, leaving Microsoft -- with its Surface RT line of tablets -- as the only PC maker flying the Windows RT banner.

"I think the market data speaks for itself in terms of what the volume has been," Hand said in response to a question on why Dell decided to abandon Windows RT. "We focused very hard on it. We fully supported it with a great product with the XPS 10. It was an award-winning product. Sometimes the best product doesn't always create customer demand. The application base wasn't quite there."

The new devices from Dell span a wide variety of form factors, price points and sizes. The company also debuted its its new Venue brand of tablets. The devices will start shipping this month and next, to coincide with the mid-October launch of Windows 8.1, as well as to take advantage of the holiday shopping season.

[Click on image for larger view.] Left to right: The XPS 11, the XPS 13 and the XPS 15.

Among the refreshed systems for Windows 8.1 are:

  • XPS 11: This Ultrabook starts at 2.5 pounds and converts from a tablet to a notebook with a 360-degree rotating hinge. It features a backlit touch keyboard with a Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display. It starts at $999.99.

  • XPS 13: With a form factor similar to the above-mentioned XPS 11, the XPS 13 is targeted at mobile professionals. This Ultrabook starts at 3 pounds, comes with a more-powerful fourth-generation Intel Core processor, features Intel HD 4400 graphics and an improved battery. It has a 1920x1080 HD display and starts at $999.99.

  • XPS 15: Targeted at those who want full multimedia capabilities, this15.6-inch system is available with a Quad HD+ (3200x1800) display with Intel's fourth-generation i5 and i7 quad-core processors, with optional NVIDIA graphics cards. It's available with 500 GB and 1 TB hard disk drives, a 512 GB solid-state drive, and Intel's Rapid Start Technology. Pricing starts at $1,499.

The new Venue line of tablets includes Windows 8.1-based units available in form factors ranging from 8 to 11 inches, and Android devices in the 7- and 8-inch form factors. 

The Windows 8.1-based Venue 8 Pro is powered by Intel's latest Atom quad-core processor, code-named "Bay Trail." It starts at $299. The $499 Venue 11 Pro is based on Intel's fourth-generation Core i3 and i5 processors and comes with the option to use Intel's vPro management software. Both are available with optional keyboards.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.