Dell Continues To Impress At CES 2019

By Patrick Moorhead - January 10, 2019
The new Latitude 7400 2-in-1’s drop hinge in motionDELL

This week I’ve been hard at work covering all the news and announcements from CES 2019 that I humanly can. There’s plenty to chew on from companies large and small, but one company that I always follow with rapt attention is Dell Technologies. It’s been in the news lately with its DVMT conversion plan (read my coverage here), and since its merger with EMC, has gained considerable shares in PCs, servers, HCI, storage, software-defined networking, and more. It has become such a large, wide-reaching business that sometimes it’s easy to forget where it all started for the company—PCs. The fact of the matter is that Dell still kicks considerable butt in this sector, and its XPS line of laptops consistently ranks near the top of my list (see my coverage of Dell’s PC news from last year’s CES here, if interested). Without further ado, let’s take a look at what all Dell announced at CES 2019. Moor Insights & Strategy associate analyst Anshel Sag will be covering the gaming-related announcements so I will omit those from my coverage, but you must check them out.

The new Latitude 7400 2-in-1

Dell unveiled a new 2-in-1 at the conference, the Latitude 7400, which it touts as the world’s smallest commercial 14-inch 2-in-1, and from my back of the envelope calculations, is true. The coolest thing about this new PC is that it’s the first to feature a proximity sensor (powered by Intel’s Context Sensing Technology), utilizing a feature called ExpressSign-In to notice a user’s presence, wake up the system, and initiate a Windows Hello facial recognition scan to verify identity. It is also capable of detecting when the user steps away from the computer, and can lock itself for security’s sake and to save battery life. This is truly unique—I can’t think of a more effortless login experience. Some people challenged me on Twitter about my exuberance, but what they forgot was that you still have to touch an iPad or iPhone to use Face ID. The user does not have to touch the system to use ExpressSign-In. 

The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 features the newest Intel 8th Gen Core processors. Additionally, it boasts up to 24 hours of battery life (though likely closer to 10 hours of real work), with Super Low Power Panel and ExpressCharge technology that Dell says will allow users to charge quickly (purportedly up to 80% in an hour). It comes in a number of connectivity options, including CAT 16 Gigabit LTE. It features a drop hinge and narrow bezels and weighs only 3 lbs—lighter than the previous generation by 25%. In addition to Windows Hello, it features other authentication options, including a touch fingerprint reader, and a contacted and contactless smart card reader. This is an impressive-looking little machine.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1. PATRICK MOORHEAD

It's funny when I first read the release for the 7400, it didn’t swing me around the room. I have seen 100s of 2-in-1s. But the more time I spent with it at the show, the more I liked the new industrial design and the addition of ExpressSign-In, ExpressCharge, and the battery life. I’m looking forward to taking it for a spin.

Updated XPS 13

Dell announced several new improvements to the newest XPS 13 at the conference. As I mentioned earlier, the XPS has always been a winner and one of my favorite PCs that Dell manufactures. However, one gripe that I (and many others) had with these computers is the bottom-mounted webcam—seemingly designed expressly for unflattering, double-chin, up-the-nose shots. Looks like Dell found a way to integrate into the new XPS 13 a top-mounted webcam. Impressively, Dell was able to accomplish this without sacrificing its InfinityEdge display, thanks to the camera’s diminutive 2.25-mm size.

The updated XPS 13. DELL

The XPS 13 is still, of course, a powerhouse, with the latest quad-core 8thGen Intel Core processors. Other updates include support for Dolby Vision (the first laptop in Dell’s lineup to feature this), which Dell says “transforms the entertainment experience” with its vivid colors and picture quality. It also features a new “frost” exterior color option and an arctic white woven glass interior. As one would expect from Dell, the new color option looks nothing less than “premium.” I am especially interested to test the company’s claim that it outperforms every other 13” notebook in its class in Cinebench given the new and improved cooling solution. Part of the XPS brand promise is performance and I hope the system performs as billed.

Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 

Dell also announced its new 13” and 15” Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 devices. The most noteworthy design news, in my opinion, was what Dell is calling its “garage in a hinge,” a method of storing the device’s full-size Active Pen accessibly within the hinge. The devices also feature a new keyboard, that sports an all-in-one power button/fingerprint reader power key. The space cleared by doing this allowed Dell to squeeze a number pad into the 15” model, for the first time in the history of the device. Another feature that Dell highlights is the device’s Adaptive Thermal technology, which it says allows the 2-in-1 to adjust its performance based on how it is being held (e.g. generates less heat when being used for Netflix on someone’s lap). 

Bolstering Dell Mobile Connect

The last thing I’ll hit on is Dell’s announcement that it is strengthening its Dell Mobile Connect feature (for PC-smartphone integration), with improved wireless file transfer capability. Dell says that users will now be able to drag and drop pictures and files between their phones and PCs, even when there’s no internet connection present. It also previewed a future capability in which users can integrate their smartphones within their VR experiences—making calls, replying to texts, etc. I’m a big fan of apps like Dell Mobile Connect that bring PCs and smartphones closer together, and this all looks like good added functionality.

Wrapping up

All in all, it was a good showing from Dell. The company continues to improve upon its already impressive lineup of PCs, with cutting-edge features like the ExpressSign-In, ExpressCharge, and the garage-in-a-hinge. The relocation of the XPS 13’s webcam is a welcome improvement that shows Dell listens to its customers’ feedback and engineers difficult solutions to their problems. Stay tuned for more CES 2019 coverage—over at Moor Insights & Strategy, we’re just getting started.

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.