Dell paints a sunny, customizable future

New desktops, AMD processors, customer service initiatives and "Dell 2.0" image announced at annual tech gathering. Photos: Dell's new desktops

NEW YORK--Dell executives on Tuesday rolled out new products and initiatives aimed at keeping the embattled PC giant afloat in an increasingly competitive market.

As user-generated "Web 2.0" content has taken the Internet by storm, Dell chose to focus on the topic of consumer experience customization at this year's Dell Technology Day, held in the Westin Times Square hotel here.

Dell's new desktops

Using the moniker "Dell 2.0" to describe the company's aim at revitalization, CEO Kevin Rollins laid out a set of goals and initiatives that emphasized service improvements and a reach into emerging markets, especially India, Brazil, China and Central Europe.

After showing a montage of new Dell commercials that showcase its new "Purely You" slogan, Rollins delivered a keynote address that touched upon a "holistic" willingness to partner with other companies. He also announced that Dell's partnership with storage manufacturer EMC would be extended for another five years.

Rollins underscored Dell's remote-access tech support service, DellConnect, which has been in effect since May. Additionally, Rollins announced "significant enhancements to" that will focus on interactivity.

Accompanying the "Dell 2.0" revitalization talk was the announcement of several new Dell desktops, including the Dimension E520, E521 and C521 models. The E-series computers are designed for maximum customizability, and the slimmer C521 is marketed as an entertainment machine for the more mainstream user.

Two of the models, the $329 E521 and $359 C521, are Dell's first computers to feature AMD processors, providing a choice between Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 X2 chips. The pricier E520, starting at $719, offers Intel Pentium D and Core 2 Duo processor options.

An additional new model in Dell's desktop lineup is the compact XPS 210, a foot-tall tower priced at $1,190.

On the enterprise side, Rollins' announcements at Technology Day focused on energy conservation, including a new energy-efficiency initiative. The company's newly announced OptiPlex 745 business desktop claims to reduce power consumption by 70 percent when coupled with a 17-inch monitor. The desktop uses an efficient Core 2 Duo E6300 processor and HyperCool thermal-management technology.

The problems that have recently plagued Dell, including exploding batteries and plunging earnings, were understandably left out of the forward-thinking "Dell 2.0" fanfare.

The issues surfaced only during question-and-answer sessions at Rollins' keynote speech and founder Michael Dell's closing speech. Even then, the topics were often dodged. Most notably, Dell shrugged off a question about the Securities and Exchange Commission probe that has delayed the company's second-quarter report. "There's not really a whole lot more" than what was said in Monday's press release, Dell said.

Dell also gave a clear message to analysts and critics who have called for Rollins to step down as CEO. "I disagree with that," was his only response.

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