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Slip-up spills beans on Dell notebooks

Spreadsheet with loads of info on upcoming Dell products found by searching with Google has been removed.

Apparent specifications for Dell's future notebooks were briefly exposed by Google's search engine Tuesday, before the spreadsheet was removed from a Dell FTP site and from Google's cache.

The basic configurations for the Dell Inspiron e1405, Inspiron e1505, Inspiron 640m and Inspiron 6400 were available, along with several other unannounced Dell products, via a Dell FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site. A poster at technology review site NotebookReview.com noticed the spreadsheet and posted the link in one of the site's discussion forums.

A base configuration of the Inspiron 6400 is expected to come with Intel's Core Solo T1300 processor for $830, with a 6400 notebook with the dual-core T2300 processor available for $880, according to the spreadsheet. The e1505 appears to be virtually the same notebook. Dell often releases very similar products under different brand names to target different audiences.

The Inspiron 640M is expected to feature the T1300 Core Solo processor for $859 or the T2300 Core Duo processor for $959, according to the spreadsheet. The e1405 look like it will be available in similar configurations for similar prices.

Dell appears to be planning to introduce Intel's Core Duo processor into its consumer and small-business notebooks before moving over to its larger corporate customers, who are generally steered toward Latitude notebooks. Dell gets the majority of its revenue from corporate accounts, but Intel's decision to accelerate the launch of the Core Duo processor has forced PC vendors to pick and choose their spots when introducing notebooks based on Intel's most powerful notebook processor yet.

Dell's prices for all of the dual-core notebooks revealed by the spreadsheet range from close to $900 to about $1,500, depending on the particular notebook and the configuration. Dell's ordering system lets customers pick and choose several different components while ordering a system. There was no information about other specifications, such as memory, hard drives, optical drives or display size.

"We do not comment on unannounced products," a Dell representative told CNET News.com.

Without Dell's confirmation, it's impossible to say with absolute certainty what the 36M-byte file represents, but the specifications and pricing of the Dell Core Duo notebooks match the expectations of analysts and company observers. The Excel spreadsheet was created in 2003 by Dell Computer Corporation and was last updated on Jan. 26, according to the properties tag on the file and the index of the spreadsheet. In the spreadsheet, prices and specifications for older Dell products appear alongside recently introduced products and unannounced PCs with Intel's Core Duo processors, which were expected to ship in February.

Google's search engine technology delivers an exhaustive list of responses to most queries, but information that companies and individuals would prefer to keep private sometimes gets caught by Google's crawlers. The search engine keeps a cache of pages from the last time it crawled the Web, but Webmasters can use an automated system on Google's Web site to remove links that were not meant to be shared with the public.

A Google representative declined to comment on whether Dell requested the removal of the link to the cache. The dead link to the FTP site could also be found with Yahoo's search engine, where the cached link had also been removed.