Is Dell's luggable lovable?

At 20 pounds, the new laptop/desktop hybrid is easily manageable, if not completely portable. CNET Reviews on the XPS M2010

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
4 min read
Dell on Wednesday unveiled a so-called luggable computer that's either a blast from the past or a leap into the future.

The 20-pound XPS M2010, which starts at $3,500, incorporates a large-screen monitor with a small, flat PC. The computer, part of Dell's XPS luxury line, includes two hard drives with up to 120GB capacity each, a Core Duo processor and 4GB of dual-channel (667MHz) memory.

'Desknotes' from Dell

Attached to the flat horizontal PC, which remains on the desk, is a 20.1-inch wide-screen monitor. It folds down to meet the computer and keyboard as on a laptop. The monitor's support bar, when open, becomes a briefcase handle when the device is closed.

The handle itself is covered in leather, while the bottom and top of the device has a leather feel reminiscent of a briefcase, according to Alex Gruzen, senior vice president of the Dell product group.

Gruzen, together with Rosendo G. Parra, senior vice president of Dell Americas, presented the company's new products at a press conference in Los Angeles.

"You can watch a DVD on a beautiful 20-inch screen, but then take that device to the office to do a presentation. You can play the latest video game, while recording TV and streaming live video. You can chat with friends while using video while riding the train," Parra said. "The PC is now the personal entertainment engine."

Dell unveiled a concept version of the M2010 at the Computer Electronics Show this past January. However, Dell has been exploring the desknote idea since at least 2003. Its Inspiron 5100 incorporated a large screen with desktop computing strength and laptop form.

In addition to executing expected computer functions, the XPS M2010 is designed to be a multimedia device. It sports a combination DVD+RW drive that pops up from the base, a built-in video camera and digital microphone, and a 256MB video card for DVDs, 2D gaming and most high-end 3D gaming. There are eight speakers and a subwoofer build in to the base of the unit, and 7.1 and 5.1 audio-out ports for hookup to a home entertainment system. (Click here to read CNET.com's take on the XPS M2010.)

A Dell Premium Remote Control allows consumers to control the Windows XP Media Center Edition software, which comes with the M2010, from up to 30 feet away.

The M2010 also includes four USB 2.0 ports, a 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi option and a 13-in-2 memory card reader, as well as the usual XPS headphone, microphone and line-in ports.

Dell also released the XPS 700, a bright red game PC tower that starts at $2,310.

"The design was inspired by jet engines, allowing for airflow cooling so that hard drives stay quiet and components stay cool," Gruzen said.

Dell has created a new section completely dedicating to gaming on its Web site. It allows gamers to build their own systems by mixing and matching components. Gamers can start with a base model and add to it, or buy components individually over time. The system is fully compatible with industry standards, according to Gruzen. The Dell gaming site also includes subsections for those building systems to go with their Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, GameCube or portable game devices.

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"Gamers make significant investments and in many cases want to be able to move components from system to system," Gruzen said.

Parra was careful to emphasize that service would be a large part of the product line, and that those on the other end of the phone line would be tenured, trained gamers who understand the needs of other gamers.

The third XPS product addition is the XPS M1210, a compact 4-pound notebook that starts at $1,300. According to Gruzen, the notebook comes ready for gaming and Windows Vista graphics, and has an "all-day battery life." Dell has upgraded the usual Dell notebook casing to something Gruzen described as "a robust magnesium design that will take any punishment."

The M1210 has a 12.1-inch screen with a built-in Webcam, and it can be bundled with Skype for video conferencing. There is an on/off switch for controlling the notebook's Wi-Fi receiver, and Dell's Wi-Fi Catcher alerts the user to hot spots even when the computer is off. There is also an optional mobile-broadband card for wireless Internet access via cellular service.

Listen up

Evolution of the XPS line During a product launch event on Wednesday, Dell's Alex Gruzen talks about how the company came to develop the XPS M2010.

Download mp3 (1.23MB)

"The PC has evolved from a productivity platform into a digital entertainment platform, said Gruzen. "These products epitomize that space. Dell intends to be on the cutting edge here, now and into the future."

The XPS M2010 and M1210 are available globally for immediate order, but may take a few weeks to actually be delivered, according to Gruzen. The Dell Web site lists the earliest ship date as July 21 for the XPS M2010 and June 22 for the M1210. The customizable XPS 700 is also immediately available to order, but takes approximately 18 days for customization build, making it available no earlier than June 27.