The first-ever entirely virtual CES came and went. At the first of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show is always a popular time for companies to launch new products, and Dell took full advantage of the opportunity. Dell stepped up its game the past three to four years and it seemed like it was a race between competitors to see who could get the most awards.
The PC has been one of the cornerstones of Dell’s business since the start of the company. I stood back and watched 2020 boldly become the year of the PC after many doubted how essential the platform was. According to Canalys, worldwide PC shipments increased 24% YoY in 4Q20. I can promise you it is back and here to stay for those questioning the PC’s essentialness. This doesn’t mean we will crank out double-digit growth the next 5 year- we won’t, but its utility is the best understood for the past decade. With many of the world still working in hybrid and work from home environments, the PC has been the backbone that powers enterprise collaboration and connectivity experiences while businesses seek to meet goals.
Hybrid work, work from home, collaboration, manageability, and security may be words that we all have heard thousands of times this year due to adapting to Covid-19, but it matters immensely for those working at or running a business. As hybrid and work from home environments extend, the current work climate drives the need for more intelligent and agile devices, and Dell is heeding the call with its 2021 CES announcements.
Last year’s CES announcements from Dell brought updates to the XPS, Latitude, Dell Cinema Guide, and Dell Mobile connect. This year’s CES coverage looked similar in product categories such as new displays, software, and PCs, but more focused on collaboration and connectivity.
Let’s dig into the CES 2021 announcements.
I wanted to touch on the new Dell Optimizer software that was announced and available in March. This software is at the heart of many of Dell’s new Precision, Latitude, and some OptiPlex PCs. In short, the new Dell Optimizer software uses AI and ML to create a personal performance profile that best fits your use case. The performance improvements include boosting launch times and performance in specific applications, optimizing video conferencing audio for the right volume levels and remaining free of noise, and regulating CPU performance and screen brightness to elongate battery life.
I like to think of this software as an automated way for users to prioritize the best wireless connections, audio settings and maximize battery life for their use case. Since the software won’t be available until March, I can’t speak to the experience, but if it works half as good as Dell promises, this will be a great addition to any Dell business notebook. I am excited to take the Dell Optimizer software for a spin on a new Latitude business notebook soon.
Latitude 9420, Latitude 5000 and 7000 Series, and Precision 3560
The Latitude 9420 is a new premium 14″ business notebook with lots of new hardware and features. One of the latest and most unique features of the system is the advanced webcam with SafeShutter technology. SafeShutter is a new feature that automatically opens and closes the webcam shutter on the notebook. I am not sure how the PC determines which scenarios to open and close the shutter, but either way, the technology is an excellent addition to a good business PC. I anticipate using this feature heavily in video collaboration apps like Teams, Zoom, Skype, and Webex. The days of sticking tape over your webcam for security seem to be long behind us. The Latitude 9420 notebook will also benefit from a 5% larger, 16:10 QHD display, which comes with a built-in low blue light screen that diminishes the amount of blue light affecting a user’s eyes. The notebook also has redesigned built-in speakers and a camera to correct lighting and provide background blur for video conferencing.
The system also comes with 11th Gen Intel mobile CPUs in both vPro, a big security and manageability adder, and traditional U-series options. The Latitude 9420 will also benefit from the Dell Optimizer software that I touched on earlier. This system will be available this spring, starting at $1,949.
The Dell Latitude 5000 series and 7000 series should get some meaningful updates, but I didn’t see much on the specifics. The Latitude 5000 series is the first business class of notebooks to use bioplastics from tree waste. That equates to reduced C02 emission comparable to 24.2 million driven, saving enough energy to power 5,564 homes for a year, and conserving enough water to fill 226 Olympic sized pools. According to Dell’s internal analysis, these numbers are the amount of waste that has been saved by choosing the conservative materials with these new business PCs is impressive.
The new Precision 3560 serves as Dell’s new 15″ mobile workstation and the follow on to the Precision 3550. Dell is sticking with its theme of sustainability by creating a system from reclaimed bioplastics. The workstation will now come outfitted with 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ U-Series CPUs inside versus 10th Gen Comet Lake, powering the previous-gen Precision 3550. The design looks to be thinner and lighter than the last generation with updated ports and I/O and more performant hardware. The Precision 3560 will be available on January 12th, starting at $1,189.
OptiPlex 3090 Ultra and OptiPlex 7090 Ultra
Another platform that got an upgrade was the Dell OptiPlex AIO’s. These AIO’s are an excellent desktop replacement for business users as it has a removable, upgradable client stored in the back of the display. The user can easily swap the client for a more robust configuration if their use case demands it. I recommended and used the Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra as my primary office PC for a couple of weeks last year, and I had a great experience with the AIO. You can access that full review here. With 11th Gen ‘Tiger Lake’ 28W Intel CPUs powering the new OptiPlex systems, I could see higher-end configurations being plenty performant to take on heavy multitasking, data manipulation, and plenty of other desktop workloads. The new Dell OptiPlex 7090 Ultra starts at $769, and the Dell OptiPlex 3090 Ultra starts at $659. That price includes the fixed monitor stand and a client device, but that price does not have a display’s cost included.
New Dell Video Conferencing Monitors
Now for something really new. Sharp, responsive displays have always been essential for collaborative and productive work. The last product that I wanted to touch on is Dell’s new video conferencing monitors. With the massive growth of video conferencing, Dell has taken a unique approach in blurring the boundaries of a display. The new Dell 24 Video Conferencing Monitor, Dell 27 Video Conferencing Monitor, and Dell 34 Curved Video Conferencing Monitor initially look like a great set of monitors for improving collaboration as employees continue hybrid work.
There are a few things that stand out when I look at the features of these monitors. First is the Microsoft Teams certification and dedicated Teams button for controlling the application while using the monitor. Each monitor also comes with a pop-up 5MP IR camera, dual 5W speakers, and a noise-canceling microphone. It will also support Windows Hello login and Microsoft Cortana. I could see these monitors playing a more significant role in enterprise collaboration if users utilize all the new Dell Video Conferencing monitors’ features and capabilities. I want to try these out to see just how close the PC plus video conferencing monitors stack up to focused devices from manufacturers like Poly. I’m also curious how well the camera and microphones would be tuned for other environments like Teams, Meet, Webex, Zoom and 8×8. As soon as (or if) I get sampled, I will let you know.
The 24″ version will start at $519.99, the 27″ version will start at $719.99, and the 34″ curved version will start at $1149.99.
With our first virtual CES this week, this is a unique time to be in tech. This year has put more stress on enterprise applications and devices than any other year in recent memory. With the resurgence of the PC in 2020, Dell seems to be making the right bets at the beginning of 2021 with new PCs and software to power a better work from home and hybrid work experience. With these new solutions, I believe employees will have the ability to be more effective by implementing the latest Dell technologies into their work environment. The future of collaborative work is bright, and Dell seems to be fully committed to creating better products that support more immersive and collaborative experiences for enterprise users.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.