Round Rock (TX) - In the latest development in the war between next-generation DVD formats, PC maker Dell today announced availability of a pre-installed Blu-ray Disc (BD) drive as an option in its top-end notebook computer.
The XPS M1710, Dell's enthusiast notebook, can now be ordered with a factory installed BD player, marking Dell's latest official effort to push the format over the competing HD DVD. Like Sony, which aggressively markets the Blu-ray component of its PS3 gaming console, Dell is a leading company in the BD Founders Association, and therefore has a high stake in the acceptance and adoption of the medium.
The format battle has just begun, but critics of BD have criticized clunky management of hardware releases, significant issues on the production side, and failing to prove to consumers its advantages of HD DVD, which has lower hardware prices and a bigger selection of titles currently available. However, Blu-ray does have some things going for it, like a higher capacity disc and more studios pledging support for it.
The release from Dell also hits on another increasing trend, which is the merge of home entertainment and computers. The XPS M1710 comes equipped with Windows XP Media Center Edition and is marketed to users who want to create, edit, and playback all kinds of media.
The notebook allows users to both read and write onto CDs, DVDs, and BDs. According to Dell, the screen supports all hi-def resolutions up to 1080p and offers surround sound output up to 7.1 channels. It also comes packed with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7600 (2.33 GHz) processors, along with a 512 MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7950 GTX GPU and 1 GB of memory and a 80 GB hard drive. Because it's an XPS model, users also get to take advantage of the company's premium services, like expedited customer service and support, as well as 15 months of a security software subscription.
No one said that Blu-ray is cheap, so count on spending at least $3700 for the basic version, which is about $350 more than what you would pay for the same notebook without a Blu-ray drive. Expect to pay about $4000 for a Blu-ray notebook that comes with more appropriate memory (2 GB) and hard drive space (160 GB).
Sony offers a comparable notebook for less money. The Vaio VGN-AR290G, equipped with a 2 GHz T7200 processor, a 256 MB Nvidia graphics card (GeForce 7600GT), 200 GB hard drive space and 2 GB of memory currently sells for $3000.