Dell: Customer Collaboration Results in Totally New Latitudes

By Lauren Simonds | Posted August 13, 2008

Apparently when you have more than five million conversations a day with your customers, you end up with not only great insight on how they use products, but also how they want to use them. That collaborative feedback, said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president and general manager of Dell's business product group, was the genesis for its re-engineered line of Latitude notebooks.

"We came away with our customers' four basic needs," said Clarke. "All-day computing, vault-like security, design and durability and simplified IT."

Those needs translate into new technologies and features such as up to 19 hours of battery life on one model, which Clarke hailed as a breakthrough technology. "The four-hour battery life barrier was broken back in 1994, and now we've broken the 19 hour barrier in 2008," he said.

With more people working from just about any place other than an office, mobility is a driving factor for the company and its customers. "Boundaries for business are virtual. Work takes place not at a location, but across multiple locations," he said.

The new notebooks provide a range of features to suit various customer profiles, starting with an ultra portable that weighs in at 2.2 pounds up to a full desktop replacement and a semi-rugged model for environmentally challenging work sites.

Options include light-sensing backlit keyboards, seven chassis colors such as Regatta Blue, Regal Red and Quartz Pink and, due later this year, models that feature an "instant on" capability to call up e-mail (with attachments), calendars, contacts, the Internet and other applications without actually booting the operating system.

Other features include Dell's Express Charge technology that refills the system battery to 80 percent capacity in an hour; magnesium alloy construction with all-metal hinges; and ControlVault, a dedicated security sub-processor with embedded nonvolatile RAM that keeps your credentials and security keys in a secure area away from the system's main hard drive.

The new line up includes:

Dell Latitude E4200: This is an ultra-portable, 12.1-inch laptop with a starting weight of 2.2 pounds, (Dell says it's the lightest commercial notebook in its history). The 13.3-inch Latitude E4300 weighs in at 3.3 pounds. Designed for frequent travelers who require maximum performance and light weight. Dell estimates these systems will be available "in the coming weeks."

Dell Latitude E6400 and E6500: These two mainstream systems are 14.1- and 15.4-inch desktop replacements laptops designed for high performance. They have a base price of $1,139 and $1,169, respectively and are available now. The E6400 is the model Dell claims can provide 19-hour battery life when using a 9-cell battery and an additional snap-on battery – Dell calls it a "slice."

Dell Latitude E5400: a 14.1-inch notebook, starts at $839, and the Latitude E5500, a15.4-inch notebook starts at $869. These value line laptops, available now, are designed to provide computing essentials at an affordable price.

Dell Latitude E6400 ATG: Pricing for this 14.1-inch semi-rugged laptop, which will be available next week, starts at $2,399. It's designed and tested to meet Military 810F standards for dust, vibration and humidity. The company has also introduced two new mobile workstations, the 14.1-inch, 4.8-pound Precision M2400 and the 15.4-inch Precision M4400, which start at $1,449 and $1,569, respectively.

Dell also launched a new community Web site called Digital Nomads. It's designed as a place where people can share ideas, tips, tricks and best practices for mobile computing.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

Additional reporting by Eric Grevstad

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