Dell Doubles Down On Android And Windows Pro Tablets

Dell Venue 11 Pro

At an event in New York Wednesday, Dell released an army of Android and Windows 8 tablets, hammering home the point that "end-user computing is important to Dell." Despite the call to consumers, the new Dell lineup will appeal to business-savvy users and solution providers looking for options other than Microsoft's Surface 2 Pro tablet family, which is not available to most Microsoft partners.

Dell released two Venue Android tablets: A 7-inch model running Intel's 1.6GHz Atom processor and a front-facing webcam that supports wireless broadband from AT&T and T-Mobile is priced at $150. A Dell 8-inch Venue Android tablet with an Atom 2GHz chip and front and back webcams is priced at $180. Both Venue Android tablets will ship with Jellybean 4.2.2, sport HD 1,280 x 800 resolution displays, and include Dell's PocketCloud online backup and desktop virtualization app.

Dell's 7-inch and 8-inch Venue tablets are the company's first Android tablets since its 7-inch and 5-inch Streak tablets were discontinued late in 2011. The two tablets were considered commercial failures for Dell.

[Related: Major Product Push: 7 Captivating Dell Tablets And Notebooks ]

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It's also worth pointing out what Dell did not announce Wednesday, namely a Dell tablet running the Windows 8.1 RT operating system. Last month Dell dumped its XPS 10 tablet running the Windows 8 RT OS. "At this time we are not going to be making any announcements about a Windows 8.1 RT device," said Bill Gorden, Dell's general manager of consumer products, small screen devices.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company has shunned RT, instead focusing on Microsoft Windows 8.1 for its Pro line of tablets, which start out at $300 for an 8-inch Venue 8 Pro and up to $500 for a full-size 11-inch Venue 11 Pro. Both model ships with Office 2013, with the Venue 11 Pro supporting Dell's own type covers and a docking station.

Pricing and availability of the docking station and two covers were not available. Dell said two type covers will be available; one with tactile keys and the other a battery type cover that will double the tablet's battery life.

"We call the Venue 11 Pro a three-in-one," Gorden said. "It can be a laptop, a desktop and a tablet."

NEXT: Dell Goes Head-To-Head With Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Dell XPS 11

As specs go, the Venue 11 Pro matches up with Microsoft's recently unveiled $900 10.6-inch Surface Pro 2, which has an Intel Haswell Core i5 processor, 64-GB and 128-GB configurations, and 4 GB of RAM. By comparison, the Venue 11 Pro has the Haswell Core i5 processor option and other similar specs. With an eye toward the channel, Dell has added security and IT management tools to the Venue 11 Pro.

The most notable difference, besides price, is that the Dell model tablet does not have a kickstand, which the Surface 2 Pro has, making it harder to use the Dell tablet as a notebook in some situations. But Dell adds a number of things lacking with the Surface Pro 2, namely support for LTE wireless broadband from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint and a hot-swappable battery.

Dell also unveiled two XPS notebooks, including the XPS 13 Ultrabook ($1,000) and XPS 15 ($1,500) and introduced a flip-and-fold convertible notebook, the XPS 11 ($1,000). Each of the notebooks includes touch displays and IT desk-friendly features including Trusted Platform Module for BitLocker data encryption, ProSupport options and configuration services such as static imaging and asset tagging.

Standout features on the XPS 13 include a compact 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display on a notebook chassis that more closely matches that of an 11-inch notebook. The XPS 15 features an optional 3,200 x 1,800 HD display that Dell said has five times more than its standard HD display and includes the Intel Core i7 3.6GHz processor.

Dell's Gorden said that while the releases are largely aimed at the consumer market, the new mobile gear will find its way into the enterprise via Dell partners.

The Dell Venue 7, Venue 8, Venue 8 Pro and XPS 15 will be available Oct. 18. The Venue 11 Pro, XPS 11 and the updated XPS 13 with touch will be available in November.