Dell shoots across the iMac's bow with XPS One

Dell shoots across the iMac's bow with XPS One

Dell has moved into the all-in-one PC market pioneered by Apple with the iMac, with Monday's introduction of the XPS One, a new Intel-based Windows-compatible PC. The system starts at US$1,499.

Dell hinted at the new system last week, dropping a preview trailer on its Web site; Michael Dell also alluded to the new system's pending release during a presentation. But the company formally introduced the new system on its Web site Monday, where it's available for immediate ordering.

The XPS One comes in four different models, each optimized for different tasks. There's the Essential One, a general-purpose PC; The Music One; The Performance One, a system with a faster processor and a discrete graphics chip; and The Entertainment One, which builds on the Performance One's features with a Blu-ray Disc capable of burning BD discs too (an amenity not yet found on any Macs shipping from the factory). Prices for the four systems start at $1,499, $1,748, $1,999 and $2,399 respectively.

Each unit comes equipped with a 20-inch widescreen LCD display. The system is encased in an aluminum stand with smoked glass accents, not unlike Apple's most recent refresh to the venerable iMac line. A webcam with dual-array microphone is integrated, and it uses a single cord for power. The included mouse and keyboard are wireless (using RF), and the system uses Wi-Fi for network connectivity (including 802.11n draft spec support) and also supports Bluetooth 2.0 for headphones, printers and other devices.

Across the backplane, the One models sport one FireWire 400 port, along with digital optical audio, four USB 2.0 ports, a speaker jack; S-Video connector; Gigabit Ethernet and built-in cable TV connection. On its left side, Dell has incorporated an additional FireWire 400 port and two more USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphone ports, and an 8-in-1 media card reader. It also comes with a wireless remote control. Units that lack Blu-ray Disc drives feature slot-loading 16x CD/DVD burners.

Each XPS One includes 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM clocked at 667MHz, and is outfitted with Microsoft's Windows Vista Home Premium edition. Dell has also bundled Adobe Elements Studio. The two less-expensive models include Microsoft Works 8.5; the two pricier versions include Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007.

The two more expensive models that have discrete graphics chips come with ATI's Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics and 256MB VRAM; the two units with integrated graphics sport Intel's G33 Express chipset. Apple recently switched to the G33 chipset for its recently-refreshed MacBook line.

All of the XPS One models have a few features that the iMac lacks, such as integrated hybrid analog/digital TV tuners and 8-in-1 media card readers. It only comes in one size, though -- 20 inches. Unlike Apple, there's no 24-inch model for users looking for a system suitable for replacing a TV in a small bedroom or living area.

Beyond the obvious iMac comparisons, Dell jumps into a market that also includes all-in-one systems from competitors like Gateway and Hewlett-Packard. Gateway's system is also called the One, and it also incorporates an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It's similarly limited to one basic model design with an integrated 19-inch display. HP's TouchSmart iQ775 model adds features like touch screen support and an AMD microprocessor instead of Intel.

Of course, only one all-in-one system on the market is capable of running both Mac OS X and Windows out of the box, and while it's made of aluminum and smoked glass, the logo that appears on its front is Apple, not Dell.

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