Dell releases low-cost notebooks

Dell has released two laptop computers, the SmartStep 100N and the Inspiron 2600, aimed at first-time, budget conscious...

Dell has released two laptop computers, the SmartStep 100N and the Inspiron 2600, aimed at first-time, budget conscious consumers.

The SmartStep, equivalent to Dell's desktop SmartStep D100, comes in only one configuration and is priced at $899 (£629) on Dell's Web site. The Inspiron 2600 comes in a variety of configurations, said Camden, and is priced at $949 (£649) and both with $50 online purchase discount from Dell.

Both notebooks "are good buys," said Rob Enderle, at Giga Information Group. "[The notebooks] offer decent performance, and have scored well in benchmarking tests," he said. However, Dell will probably attempt to sell consumers on notebooks with more functionality and options, after having attracted them to Dell through low prices, he said.

"This seems like more of a marketing initiative," he said, predicting that consumers would likely be pitched the Inspiron 2600 with one of its higher-performance configurations after inquiring about the SmartStep 100N. Dell's margins on a machine like the SmartStep 100N are probably minimal, he said.

The SmartStep 100N comes with a 14.1in extended graphics array (XGA) display, a 1.06GHz Celeron processor from Intel, 128Mbytes of shared synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM), a 20Gbyte hard drive, and an internal 24X speed CD-ROM drive.

The Inspiron 2600 is the lowest-priced model in Dell's Inspiron notebook line. The base configuration comes with a 1.06GHz Celeron processor, but users can upgrade to Intel's Mobile Pentium III processors at either 1GHz or 1.13GHz. The machine also features expandable memory up to 512Mbytes and as much as 40Gbytes of hard disk storage.

The Smartstep notebook is already available in the US and Canada and will be available in China and the UK within 60 days, Camden said. The Inspiron 2600 is available now.

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