RealTime IT News

Dell Adds Broadband, Security Features

Dell released slimmer and lighter versions of its Latitude notebook computer line based on Intel's Core Duo processors.

Customers have the choice of adding broadband connectivity from Cingular Wireless or Verizon Wireless in U.S., or Vodafone in Europe.

Weighing 4.4 pounds, the Latitude D620 comes with a 14.1-inch XGA display and is fitted with an Intel Core Duo T2300 processor. The base configuration costs $1,149 and includes 512MB shared DDR2 memory, a 40GB3 SATA hard drive and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi capability.

The heavier Latitude D820, weighing 5.6 pounds, includes an Intel Core Duo T2300 processor, 15.4-inch XGA display, 512MB DDR2 shared memory, a 40GB3 SATA hard drive and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi capability. Its price is $1,280.

With the machines, Dell joins Lenovo, HP and others in offering optional broadband connectivity plans for their notebook computers. Those who purchase either of the new Latitudes can get Cingular's BroadbandConnect service for $59.99 per month with a two-year contract and qualified voice contract.

"You do have a signal when Dell does something it considers it now mainstream," Gerry Purdy, principal analyst with Mobiletrax told internetnews.com.

"Lenovo tends to be first with technology to show off their innovation and cutting-edge design work. Dell tends to hold back and say 'we'll pull the trigger when there's broad market adoption.'"

The Cingular service is currently available in 16 U.S. markets: Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Seattle, Tacoma and Washington, D.C.

Cingular, which provides average download speeds between 400 to 700 kilobits per second, with bursts to more than one megabit per second, said it expects to be online in most major markets in the U.S. by the end of this year.

"The interesting trend is that while embedding cellular WAN into notebooks started off in corporate notebooks, this year we'll see the capability make its way into consumer notebooks," IDC analyst Richard Shim told internetnews.com.

"This will help to drive down service costs. Monthly service fees will have to get into the $30 and under range for cellular WAN to become a regular everyday feature."

Several security features are included or available as options in the Latitude line. Following a trend started by Lenovo, Dell now offers an optional integrated new biometric fingerprint reader for the new Latitudes.

Last December, Lenovo laid claim to being the largest provider of biometric-enabled PCs in the world and announced it had sold over a million of its ThinkPad notebooks with an integrated fingerprint reader.

Dell also offers an optional smart card, and trusted platform module to help ensure only authorized access to data on the notebooks.

The Wave Embassy Trust Suite is an integrated security solution that Dell says lets users or enterprises easily enable and manage these security technologies individually or together.

Another security feature for Latitude is embedded support for Computrace theft recovery and asset tracking software to help locate missing notebooks and delete data remotely.

"As computer users become more mobile, you widen the liability and the risk," said Shim. "Notebook computer makers have to offer these features because corporate clients are asking for them."