Dell reshapes Latitude laptops, prices start at $599

Dell introduces new naming convention for Latitude laptops, scratches old models

Dell is giving a new identity to its Latitude laptops with the introduction of thinner and lighter models priced starting at US$599 and running on Intel's Haswell processors.

The upcoming laptops also have a new naming convention to reflect the price and target market. The Latitude 3000 series for small businesses will start at $599, the 5000 series will be for mid-market buyers, while the 7000 series will be the thinnest and lightest but also the most expensive starting at $1,049.

Out go the old naming conventions that were confusing and made identifying laptops difficult, said David Ruth, director of commercial PC group at Dell. Much like Lenovo's ThinkPad, Dell is trying to create a brand image that can stick in the users' mind.

The new Latitudes come only with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, which have helped improve laptop performance and battery life. The laptops will be available in touch and non-touch models for users looking to upgrade to either Windows 7 or 8.

The laptops will also come with replaceable batteries, which are different from integrated batteries in ultrabooks. Laptops with integrated batteries typically need to be sent back to the PC maker for replacement, while the batteries in Dell's new laptops can be immediately swapped out.

The 7000-series includes the Latitude 12 E7240 laptop, which has a 12.5-inch screen and weighs 1.36 kilograms, and also the Latitude 14 E7440, which has a 14-inch screen and weighs 1.63 kilograms. The 7000-series laptops start at $1,049 and will become available next month.

Dell's Ruth said the laptops could provide roughly up to eight hours of performance with a three-cell battery. The Latitude 12 E7240 laptop supports up to 256GB of solid state storage and 8GB of RAM. The larger Latitude 14 E7440 supports either 500GB of hard drive storage or 256GB of SSD storage, and 8GB of RAM.

Other features in the laptops include Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and optional LTE wireless connectivity. There are three USB 3.0 ports and also mini-DisplayPort and HDMI connectors for external monitors. Optional VPro features are also available for remote systems management.

The laptops have carbon fiber coatings and Gorilla Glass, which add a level of ruggedness. Wireless docking using the WiGig protocol is also available to connect external monitors and other peripherals.

Dell said the Latitude 3000 and 5000 laptops will be available in multiple screen sizes. The company showed a 15-inch Latitude 3000 series laptop, which will be available next month. The company will ship Latitude 5000 laptops starting in October, though prices for the laptop have not been determined.

"We're still getting all the benchmark stuff for the batteries on the [Latitude] 3000 and 5000," Ruth said.

All new Dell Latitudes will be upgradeable to Windows 8.1, which is due for release in October. But a number of organizations running custom applications may upgrade to Windows 7 from XP, Ruth said.

Companies exploring touch applications may choose Windows 8 and touchscreens when upgrading from XP, Ruth said.

"We expect the majority of this [upgrade] round will be non-touch," Ruth said. "Windows 7 will be available across the board."

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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