Dell, Inc. is renowned for churning out low-cost systems and for helping turn personal computers into commodity items instead of expensive collections of arcane, boutique technology. But now Dell is turning the other way with its new , offering high-performance, premium support, and stylish design for a premium price tag.
XPS systems are aimed at folks who want stylish, high-performance systems for entertainment, gaming, and home theater uses; the lineup includes three desktop systems—the XPS 200, 400, and 600—plus the XPS M170 notebook. All XPS systems are available with Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, a 15-month security subscription for antivirus and anti-spyware tools, and one year of XPS warranty support. XPS customers also get special support privileges from Dell, including 24/7 Premium Care plus priority service and support from a new customer service team assembled to handle the XPS line. Dell expects XPS customers’ feeling of high-end luxury will come in part from the dedicated customer service: XPS laptop customers will be connected to a Dell service rep within five minutes of calling, which is about half the wait time experienced by non-XPS customers.
The XPS desktop systems’ specifications are about what you’d expect for high-end consumer and gaming PCs. The slim XPS200 starts at $1,149 and offers either a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 or a 3 Ghz dual-core Pentium D processor, 512 MB RAMM, a CD/DVD combo drive or burner, and 8 USB 2.0 ports, 7.1 audio, either Intel’s Graphics Media Accelerator 950 or an 128MB ATI Radium X600 SE graphics card, and a 250 GB hard drive. The mid-range XPS 400 starts at $1,099 and is billed as the "strong silent type;" it features a 3.2 Ghz Pentium D dual-core processing; 512 MB dual-channel memory; extra drive bays (internally and externally accessible); 7 USB 2.0 ports; ATI, Nvidia, or dual Nvidia graphics options; 7.1 audio; two 500 GB drives; and a range of drives to play and burn CDs and DVDs. At the high end, the XPS 600 starts at $1,849 with a 3.2 Ghz Pentium D dual-core processor, a standard 512 MB of dual channel RA, 2 DVI ports, s-video, 7.1 audio, numerous drive bays, read/write optical drive options for playing and burning CDs and DVDs, ATI and Nvidia graphics options (including dual 256 MB PCI Express Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX with SLI technology), and up to 1.5 TB of internal storage from three 500 GB drives. Even better, the front plate is customizable with seven different highlight colors. All XPS desktop systems are available with a selection of flat-panel LCD screens.
The XPS M170 notebooks are priced from $2,758 to $4,260 and feature magnesium alloy cases which give the systems a gunmetal look. Specs include 2 Ghz Pentium M processors, up to 1 GB dual channel RAM, a 17-inch 1920 by 1200 high-contrast display powered by Nvidia GeForce 6800 or 7800 graphics controllers, an 80 GB hard drive, an CD burner/DVD combo drive (or optional CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW), main speakers and a 5 watt subwoofer, and a weight of approximately 8.6 pounds.
Numerous custom confirmation options are available for all XPS systems; orders can be placed with Dell online or via phone, but the company has also set up a dedicated sales force to handle XPS systems.
The high-end, luxury computer market might be an interesting place to be: many of Apple’s Macintosh computers have commanded premium pricing in part for their trend-setting designs and luxury cache; similarly, PCs from Alienware and VoodooPC have been aimed at gamers willing to pay top dollar for high-performance systems with stylish designs; Dell has apparently decided that premium space—with its premium profit margins—is a good place to be.