Dell Mini 5 is too expensive, too late

Dell Mini 5 slate.Dell first showed us the Mini 5 at CES this year, but it was a quiet affair. The five-inch tablet has all the trappings of a smartphone in a much bigger package and at a much higher price tag. With the iPad announcement, the Dell’s tablet looks out of place, and it has to get a whole lot cheaper before anyone will take it seriously.

In case you didn’t hear about it (a lot of people didn’t), the Mini 5 is a thousand dollar slate running Android 1.6. As far as I can tell it’s about an iPhone and a half in terms of size. The device has a 5 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and 3G support, all running on a 1GHz Snapdragon. In terms of specs, it’s pretty comparable to the iPad, but look at that price tag. $1,000? For that? Really the only improvement it makes over the iPad is that camera, which is definitely not worth $500. You could argue that Android is the key here, but 1.6? What is this, 2009?

Dell pulls its Jersey Shore sponsorship

Jersey Shore cast.Now that several episodes of MTV’s reality series Jersey Shore have run, advertisers are running scared. Dell is the latest in a group of sponsors who have decided to pull support from the show, citing the stereotypes around which the entire show is based.

Really, Dell, what did you expect? The show is called Jersey Shore. Just look at that cast. Just look at those people. And yes, I mean those people, as in a group of individuals who are so thick-skulled that they’ve created and perpetuated a culture around a totally ridiculous lifestyle. There’s a guy who has named his abs (and seemingly everything else in sight) “the situation.” This is prime TV fodder, especially for MTV’s demographic.

The official word from Dell is that the company does not, “condone or support ethnic bashing in any form.” Way to take the high ground, guys. I’m sure it would have been impossible to predict the content of that show.

Source: TMZ

Dell to close Winston-Salem manufacturing plant

Dell plant in NC.Dell let employees at its Winston-Salem plant know to expect cuts in March of this year. What the company didn’t say was that the whole plant was in danger. Today Dell announced it would be closing the plant, eliminating more than 900 jobs from the NC market.

As a new resident of NC I can vouch for the state as a reflection of how truly awful the job market is all over the country. But Dell was struggling long before the economy went down the shitter, so this isn’t a huge surprise. The Winston-Salem plant was responsible for desktop production, a slice of the market that’s quickly headed the way of the dodo.

Source: CNet

What the Hell is Happening at Dell (v2.0)?

Dell having some problems.

I made a post a couple days ago about the downright zany information leaks about an upcoming MID from Dell. Employee comments were all over the place, which made it hard to figure out if Dell has been blowing particles of mercury through their air ducts or if they’re just panicking over their slippery market share. There’s more news this week, which has me leaning toward the mercury theory. I’ll start with the least crazy of the two.

Yesterday Dell announced a new option for their popular Mini line of netbooks: the Wireless 700 card. The card adds $69 to the price and adds GPS capability to your handy little netbook. Alan Sicher, senior wireless product manager at Dell, had this to say:

Smartphones already have GPS capabilities. We are now bringing it to…

Okay, stop. Yes. Smartphones already have GPS. So why are you putting it on netbooks? More and more phones, smart or otherwise, are adding GPS capabilities every day, with increasingly robust feature lists. Sorry I interrupted.

We are now bringing it to netbooks so the devices know where you are and can help you where you want to go.

Alright, stop. I’m going to cannibalize an old photographer’s saying for the sake of argument here. The best GPS is the one you have with you. Why would I want to carry a netbook when my phone can do what you’re suggesting? Can you imagine walking around downtown with your netbook out? People would wonder if you’d found Zack Morris’ old smartphone.
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Dell Maybe Kinda Sorta Releasing an MID

Dell bring Anroid to an MID near you?According to a Wall Street Journal report yesterday, Dell has been developing an iPod Touch-like device, capable of accessing the internet but leaving out phone capabilities. The device could be released as early as the end of the year…or not.

The WSJ talked to a couple engineers closely involved with the project. They claimed the device would be running Android and comes in just a bit bigger than the iPod Touch. The confusion, at least as far as release is concerned, comes from this:

Another person who was briefed on the company’s plans said Dell may begin selling the device later this year, though this person said the plan could be delayed or scrapped entirely.

Delayed, okay. Scrapped entirely? Like completely do away with the project’s release date? That just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The story gets stranger.

According to the article, people at Dell have been working on the device for the past year or so, following a botched attempt to compete with Apple in the mp3 market. They wanted to what now? I realize Dell is the second largest computer manufacturer in the world (for now), but directly compete with the iPod? I don’t know who thought that would work, but that person should probably be fired. Going toe-to-toe with something as entrenched as the iPod is silly, unless you have some seriously compelling differentiators, and something tells me Dell does not.

On this new MID, people from Dell have also claimed potential plans to sell the MID through mobile carriers, and I can only think of one reason to do that: 3G capability. Unless they want to market the thing with T-Mobile/AT&T hotspots, which is totally ridiculous. Dell employees go on to say Dell is also working on a few Android based smartphones for release later in the year.

Is it just me, or is this one giant PR nightmare? You’ve got employees at all levels of the company, from engineers to folks intimately involved with release plans, spilling their guts about in-development projects that could potentially compete with the iPhone/iPod Touch and yet none of them sound coherent enough to actually believe.

Are we seeing the early onset of an upcoming death rattle from Dell? Are they trying to stay solvent as desktop sales plummet? Why don’t they have a tighter lid on this MID thing? They’ve certainly got me speculating, though I’m more worried about the company planning than interested in their new mobile device, whether it be MID, smartphone, or something else entirely. I won’t be holding my breath.

Dell Studio XPS 13 – Now with Ubuntu!

XPS 13Dell has started to offer their XPS 13 with the more and more popular Ubuntu. Ubuntu, for those who don’t know, is a linux-based operating system that has a reputation for being fast, stable, and virus free. Ubuntu also runs many of the same software applications that Windows does like Firefox and Open Office.

Anyway, here are the details from Electonista:

PC, notebook, monitor and related hardware manufacturer Dell has recently began offering its Studio XPS 13 notebook PC preloaded with the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. The 13.3-inch notebook otherwise has the same key specs as its Windows Vista-powered counterpart, including the same 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, though some of the available options between them differ. For example, users can upgrade to a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo on the Ubuntu XPS 13, while those who opt for the Vista system have a choice of a different 2.53GHz and a 2.66GHz CPU.

And it’s quite affordable at $1099.