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Live coverage of Michael Dell

Live coverage of Michael Dell
Marc Perton
Marc Perton|January 5, 2006 5:23 PM

2:25 - Here we are at the Sands, with CES-issue loud music pumping from the speaker system, getting us amped up for the man to take the stage. On stage are several already-announced products, including displays and laptops, along with the usual black-shrouded "secret" products.

2:30 - They just issued a warning not to do any flash photography during the speech "for the comfort of our speakers." Come on, Mike. Get a pair of sunglasses if you can't stand the bright glare of fame.

2:35 - CEA boss Gary Shapiro has taken the stage given his usual effusive intro. This guy is busy!

2:36 - Here comes Mike, amid still more loud music and bright lights, including a very Vegas-style flashing Dell logo behind him on the stage.

"We feel an obligation to take computing to the next level." Dell has some "dramatic innovations" in lots of areas, including "consumer support." Hmmm, dunno about that last one.

Dell says that only 15% of the company's business is consumer-related, but it's grown about 400% over the past few years. "The PC still reigns supreme about the high-volume device of choice." Yo, them's fightin' words. "What's really been driving this growth is the ever-changing nature of the way people are using PCs."
Gaming is a "prime example" of the versatility of the PC -- 20% of the PC market consists of gamers.  (This is definitely a man who likes to have stats at his fingertips.)
2:40 - XPS 600 - the company's flagship gaming box. "Huge focus in a system like this goes into its graphics performance" Dell goes through dual graphics-card setup, saying it's faster than any gaming PC or gaming console. "So, how do we top that?"

2:41 - Dell's showing off the XPS 600 Renegade, with red airbrushed flames and dual GPU GeForce 7800 GTX cards. It's very Voodoo PC or Alienware, not at all your father's Dell computer. And, yeah, we'll get a flash pic of it, even if they throw us out for doing it. Available 1Q of this year, To talk about the graphics behind it, Dell's bringing up Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of nVidia./600. Huang's talking up the Renegade's graphics engine, the nForce 4 SLI X16 chipset. Two GPUs on one card, giving the power of 4 GPUs on a PC.  2GB dedicated frame buffer, 41 gigapixels per second throughput. 5.2 teraflops of computing power. Huang calls it a graphics supercomputer. "Almost supernatural speed." Into gaming? This sounds sick!

2:50 - Mike - "What we're really talking about here is a system that's 4x faster than anything out there." Now, Mike's bringing up gaming guru and Austin nabe Richard Garriott, to show off the gaming capabilities of the Renegade. He's got some people playing the Auto Assault multiplayer game in realtime, and the movement on the screen is sharp and fluid. Garriott: "NCSoft has always been a 100% Dell shop." Sweet, Mike.

2:56 - "What if you want to take all of that incredible gaming power with you?" Yeah, what, Mike? Well, how about a Delll XPS M170 notebook?

"We've talked a lot about how the PC is a great platform for gaming. But what about the rest of the market?" Inspiron 710m with low-power dual-core processor. It shares its 17-inch display with the M170, and includes the NVIDIA 256 MB GeForce Go 7800 graphics card.

3:00 Mike's showing quotes from critics giving props to Dell's 24-inch display. "Monitor of the gods" - Computer Games Magazine. And, now, here's the big one: the 30-incher, the
UltraSharp 3007WFP. Ultra-sweet. "77% more content area than the 24-inch display. The only thing better than one of these is two of them."

Media PCs: "It only gets better with Viiv and Blu-Ray." Nice plug, Mike.

3:04 - Now he's showing off Dell.com for customer support. "A rich, immersive experience. ... What we're seeing is that the typical Dell customer really enjoys coming to Dell.com. Dell.com generated more online revenue than Amazon, eBay, Google and Yahoo combined. ... A new service from Dell that takes our direct model to the next level. We see more and more support calls that are software relarted. ... We're now able to remotely by phone solve 95% of the problems our customers have."

Now, he's showing off TechConnect, which lets support personnel connect directly to PCs over broadband. He's calling, Mike, a support dude in Edmonton to find out why he's having trouble "accessing his auctions on eBay." Dell logs in after actually skimming the terms of service ("gotta love lawyers"). Mike is remotely accessing Mike's computer, checking to see what kind of glitches it has. He deleted a bad cookie. Gee, if only all computer problems were this simple to solve! Dell says TechConnect has a "99% customer satisfaction" level.

3:12 - "We've got onr more thing we'd like to show you." It's the XPS Mobile Concept PC, the first notebook with a 20-inch widescreen display. It's got 8 speakers, a subwoofer, a removable keyboard, slot-load DVD drive, a "leather-like" surface. Looks more like a high-end all-in-one desktop than a portable. It's just a concept, though. And, dang, they're actually taking the thing off the stage now, so we can't even check it out! (The hinge that attaches the display to the base becomes a carrying handle. Very slick.)

"No other company has the size, capability, scale, commitment to innovation that Dell has." He said this about 5 times. We get it. You're big and you can do big things.

3:18 - That's all folks. No Q&A. Elvis has left the building.

3:30 - Hey, he's back! Mike and SVP Alex Gruzen are doing a Q&A with the media.

Mike: "You're going to see a whole series of products in the XPS family."

Mike: "You're gonna see a pretty broad array of product innovations from Dell across the year."

Mike: "DJ Ditty has done fine for us. It's a product category we participate in. I wouldn't say it's a mainstream focus for us." Sounds like Mike's lost his love for music.

Mike declares the Blu Ray/HD DVD war over, with you-know-who as the victor: "I think six months ago there was a format war. We've seen the vast majority of the content guys go to Blu Ray. We think the right step here is an evolutionary step, not a revolutionary step. We really think Blu Ray is the right answer. We've had lots of discussions with all of the relevant folks."

Mike disses the $100 PC ... and shows he cares: "I think a lot of these countries need clean water, medicine. There's this thing called the industrial revolution. They haven't experienced all of these basic things that are more important to them than a $100 PC. That's not exactly what the world is looking for now. If it were, you'd see a lot more reuse of old machines in the developing world."

Mike on Viiv: "I think Viiv and Media Center together will raise the awareness of what you can do with today's PCs. We're seeing people do more with today's PCs. It's all fantastic.."

Blu Ray: "We're ready to go, waiting for the drive manufacturers to start delivering drives in volume. I think it'll get resolved. We think it's really time for a big step, and we think Blu Ray is the right answer. But it's not the first time we've disagreed with Microsoft and intel, and I'm sure it won't be the last. But they don't ship products to consumers."

The Jeff Jarvis factor: "We don't want anyone to have a bad experience, whether they're a blogger or anyone else. The broad body of evidence suggests that those experiences are rather anomolous, even though they're completely unacceptable to us. What we found with Tech Connect is that a number of these problems -- like rootkits -- somebody has that problem, trying to solve it themselves over the phone, it's just not gonna happen. But with a tool like Tech Connect, the guys can go in and fix it rather quickly. We're also making an investment to improve service levels across the board. Adding new support sites. Edmonton, Ottawa, Oklahoma City.  (And, no, Mike has no plans to blog himself.)

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