Dell launches desktop replacement notebook

The PC maker ships the Inspiron 9100 for a lower price than its flagship desktop replacement notebook, as it joins other companies in chasing this popular market.

Dell Computer on Friday initiated another member into the desktop replacement notebook club.

The Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker unveiled its Inspiron 9100. The 8.9-pound machine offers many of the same features as Dell's flagship Inspiron XPS game notebook, such as a high-resolution, 15.4-inch display, but it sells at a lower price.

So-called desktop replacement notebooks, which typically come with a 15-inch or larger screen and a relatively fast processor, have become popular with consumers, according to PC makers and analysts.

People have been purchasing the notebooks in large numbers because they are fairly portable, offer performance and screen sizes similar to desktops but do not cost a lot more than desktops with a flat-panel display. As the trend has accelerated manufacturers such as Dell have begun pursuing the machines more aggressively.

Like other desktop replacements notebooks from Dell, the Inspiron 9100 offers about the same Pentium 4 processor speeds and screen sizes as the company's desktop PCs.

The new model will start at $1,549. At that price it will include a 15.4-inch WXGA display and a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor. The most basic configuration also comes with 256MB of RAM, a CD-burner, ATI's Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card with 64MB of onboard memory and a one-year warranty, according to Dell's Home and Home Office Web site.

Upgrading to a higher-resolution 15.4-inch WSXGA+ screen, a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of RAM, a version of the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 card with 128MB of onboard memory, a 60GB hard drive, a DVD burner and wireless networking will increase the price to $2,325, before rebates and special offers, according to Dell's Web site.

A similarly configured Inspiron XPS starts at about $2,800, the site says. However, unlike the new model, the Inspiron XPS comes with a faster 3.4GHz Pentium 4 and other features such as dedicated tech support and a graphics card upgrade program that lets owners switch to new boards as they are released by manufacturers.

But, even with its price and features, Dell's Inspiron 9100 will face stiff competition from other notebook makers, including rival Hewlett-Packard.

HP recently added two new Pavilion models, the Pavilion zx5000 and the Pavilion zv5000. The machines also offer Pentium 4 processors as well as 15.4-inch screens, which are standard on the zx5000 and an upgrade on the zv5000.

A version of the Pavilion zx5000 configured with a 15.4-inch screen, a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a CD-burner starts at $1,349, before rebates, when purchased directly from HP, according to the company's HPShopping Web site.

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