Dell introduces $349 Inspiron 11 touchscreen laptop

Dell is also rebranding its Inspiron laptops to make models easier to identify

Dell has introduced an 11.6-inch Inspiron 11 touchscreen laptop starting at US$349 as the company reshapes its consumer laptop lineup with a new naming scheme and models.

The model starting at $349 is with processors from Advanced Micro Devices, whose chips are back in Dell laptops after a long break. The Inspiron 11 with Intel processors code-named Haswell starts at $379.

The laptop will run for eight hours on a single battery charge. It'll also have Windows 8.1 and a version of Microsoft Office. Dell is not offering the option of Windows 7 with Inspiron 11.

With Inspiron 11, buyers can get a touchscreen ultraportable with a powerful processor at a low price, said Jonathan Guttell, director of global consumer messaging at Dell.

Inspiron laptops currently have screens of 13.3 inches and larger. The budget Inspiron 14R, 14, 15 and 15R models were inexpensive, but bulkier. Touch laptops from PC makers also are largely priced at more than $500.

"We haven't had an alternative size in Inspiron for a while," Guttell said.

The Inspiron 11 will have Gorilla Glass for screen ruggedness, USB 3.0 ports, a webcam and an HDMI port.

Dell is also ripping up old Inspiron branding and introducing model names to make the laptops easier to identify. Dell on Tuesday introduced the Inspiron 7000 series laptops, which will come with 14-, 15.6- and 17-inch screen sizes, priced from $699 to $1099 depending on the screen size. The 7000-series name will be reserved for high-end laptops and replace the older Ultrabook models like Inspiron 13z, 14z and 15z.

"We'll replace the same price points. We won't abandon any of the lower price points," Guttell said.

The 7000 laptops will have touchscreens by default in the U.S. The laptops can be configured with Intel's fourth-generation Core processors code-named Haswell.

The laptops will offer between eight and 11 hours of battery life and a full range of ports.

Dell felt a need to replace the brand names as laptops under the old naming scheme were hard to differentiate, Guttell said.

For example, it was hard to differentiate between a 14R and 14Z, and the new branding around numbers is more intuitive, Guttell said. The lower-end laptops will have numbers lower than 7,000 as part of the new naming scheme.

Inspirons are the least expensive Dell laptops, while XPS is a premium brand. Latitude laptops are designed for business users. Dell also plans to announce a new Windows 8.1 consumer tablet called Venue at an event in New York City on Oct. 2.

The new Inspirons will ship worldwide, though a specific shipping date was not provided. Many PC makers will start shipping new laptops after Microsoft releases Windows 8.1 on Oct. 18.

The new models were announced after Dell shareholders last week voted to approve a US$24.9 billion buyout of the company by CEO Michael Dell and associate Silver Lake Partners. There were concerns that the weak PC division would be the first domino to fall if Dell went private. However, the CEO reiterated his commitment to Dell's PC operations, but the company's focus is to expand in the enterprise.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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