Our first look at "the world's most powerful gaming laptop" and a new 55-inch 4K OLED gaming display.
Justin JaffeManaging editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
Dell kicked off its press conference at CES 2019 touting its position as the largest PC company, at least in terms of revenue. But it proved the point more literally when it introduced the Alienware Area-51m -- an enormous 17-inch gaming system that the company calls "the world's most powerful gaming laptop."
Other noteworthy announcements included the new XPS 13, the Inspiron Black Edition, new Latitude business laptops and the Alienware m17/m15, which was unveiled on Sunday ahead of the show. Here's a recap of the PCs and displays that Dell has announced so far at CES.
Launched under the company's desktop gaming brand, this new behemoth crams modular desktop-level components into a streamlined, though hefty, laptop. Dell has equipped it with a ninth-gen Intel CPU and a 20-series overclockable Nvidia GPU -- about as good as it gets today. But the innovative part is that both can be upgraded -- although in the case of the GPU, it's hypothetical at this point, as you'd need new compatible parts to swap in. The system starts at around $2,000 and will be available on Jan. 21.
OLED has a wide gamut and contrast that makes colors pop, so it's natural you'd want it in a game display. To date, the few we've seen have all been small laptop displays. Dell's new 55-inch display 4K model, launched under the new Alienware Legend brand, comes with a game-friendly 120Hz refresh rate. It's not as big as the 65-inch BFGD LCD models, but we'd trade off size for OLED's superior look. Dell says it will have connections to work with both consoles and PCs, and at least the DisplayPort connector will support variable refresh. But we don't know much more about it.
An upscaled version of the recent m15, the new version steps up to a 17-inch screen and Nvidia's latest mobile processor, provisionally known as the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q. Constructing it from magnesium alloy and copper has allowed Dell to keep the machine's weight to under 6 pounds (about 2.7 kg), with a thickness of 23 mm, giving it the title of the company's "thinnest and lightest" 17-inch laptop to date.
Making light of the previous model's much maligned "nostril cam" issue, Dell introduced a new version of its ultraportable Dell XPS 13, which it says has now been "perfected." At the very least, the company seems to have solved the problem that plagued previous versions -- a webcam positioned below the screen that shot photos and video directly up the noses of users. The new and improved XPS 13 puts a micro HD webcam where it's supposed to be -- embedded into the bezel above the screen -- and features eighth-gen Intel CPUs, up to 16GB of RAM and plenty of display options.
For its new Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition, Dell created a new hinge design that allows you to store the computer's full-size active pen right at the top of the keyboard. Drop the pen in the garage and it magnetically holds it in place. The hinge rotates so the pen remains accessible regardless of the position the screen is in. Close the screen to the keyboard and the pen is safely stowed inside.