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Dell to offer Ubuntu on more systems
Jun. 26, 2007

Dell isn't resting on its recent consumer Linux PC laurels. The computing giant has added a new laptop -- the Inspiron 1420 Notebook -- to its Ubuntu Linux 7.04 offering. It is also replacing the Dimension E520 desktop with the new, low-priced Inspiron 530.

The new Inspiron 1420N is powered by a 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 processor. This chip set also comes with a 667MHz FSB (front-side bus) and a 2MB cache. If you want a faster processor, Dell will let you upgrade it to a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 with an 800MHz FSB and a 4MB cache.

Dell's Inspiron 1420 Notebook

The processors, along with the system's Wi-Fi and graphics, are built on the foundation of Intel's brand new Santa Rosa chip set. This is the fourth generation of the Intel Centrino platform. It comes with improved power management, especially for graphics, and support for the still-not-ratified 802.11n wireless network standard.

For storage, the default setup starts with an 80GB SATA (serial advanced technology attachment) hard drive with a spin rate of 5,400 rpm. At the high end, Dell will offer a 160GB SATA hard drive with 7,200-rpm speed with the 1420.

By default, this laptop comes with a 24x CD burner/DVD combo drive. You can also get it with an 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability.

The Inspiron 1420 Notebook comes with 1GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 (double-data-rate two) RAM at 667MHz. You can push that all the way up to 4GB of Shared Dual Channel DDR2 RAM.

When it comes to a display, the 1420 comes with an anti-glare, widescreen 14.1-inch display with 1,280x800 WXGA (Wide XGA) resolution. If you want higher resolution, for an additional $50, Dell will install a high-resolution, glossy widescreen 14.1-inch display with 1,440x900 WSXGA (Wide Super XGA) resolution. These are both widescreen aspect displays.

To power up these displays, the 1420 uses an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100. Dell doesn't offer an upgrade for this graphics processor.

For networking, the 1420 uses an Intel 3945 802.11a/g Mini Card. It also includes an integrated 10/100M-bps Ethernet port. This notebook also supports Bluetooth 2.0.

The 1420N comes with an integrated 8-in-1 media card reader, four USB 2.0 ports and an IEEE 1394 FireWire port.

While it's a low-priced laptop, Dell didn't skimp on its shell. Instead of ABS plastic, the 1420's chassis is housed in magnesium alloy. Ordinarily this kind of shell is only found on business laptops.

It's unlikely, however, that you'll find any business laptop in, say, Ruby Red or Sunshine Yellow. Dell is offering the 1420N with Jet Black as the standard option. Or, for an additional $29, you can go with Alpine White, Midnight Blue, Espresso Brown, Flamingo Pink, Spring Green or the aforementioned Ruby Red or Sunshine Yellow.

Like the rest of the Dell Ubuntu system family, you can get hardware support from Dell. Despite the recent rumors to the contrary, you can also get Dell's Complete Care Accidental Damage Service for the Inspiron 1420 Notebook and the other Ubuntu-powered computers.

For software support, customers can turn to the Ubuntu community. If you prefer, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, offers several service plans. These include 30-day Get Started, One-year Basic and One-Year Standard. For more information on these options see the Canonical's support site.

Pricing on the Inspiron 1420 Notebook begins at $774. Systems will be available for delivery starting in mid-July.
Dell is also replacing its Ubuntu-powered Dimension E520 desktop with the new, low-priced Inspiron Desktop 530. The 530 comes in a mini-tower with ample bay and card room for users who want to add to their PCs.

The system's base processor is an Intel 1.6GHz E2140 Pentium dual-core processor with an 800MHz FSB and 1MB of L2 cache. It can be upgraded to an Intel 1.8Ghz E4300 Core 2 Duo Processor with an 800MHz FSB and a 2MB L2 cache.

The default storage device is a 160GB SATA hard drive. On the high end, you can upgrade to a 320GB SATA drive. All the drive options run at 7,200 rpm.

For an optical drive, the desktop comes with a 48x CD-RW/ DVD combo drive. You also have the option of a single 16x DVD+/-RW drive or a dual-optical-drive configuration.

At the low end, the 530 comes with only 512MB of Single Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz. While woefully insufficient for Vista, this is enough memory to run Ubuntu 7.04. You can crank the 530 all the way up to 4GB of Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM.

Unlike many systems sold these days, the 530 comes with a monitor in its base configuration. This is a 17-inch ViewSonic VA1703wb LCD Monitor. Without it, you can knock $170 off the PC's base price. Dell also offers a variety of other display options for the 530. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the 19-inch SE198WFP Widescreen Digital Flat Panel monitor.

The SE198WFP is designed to match the new Inspiron 530/531 series desktops. It has a maximum resolution of 1,440 by 900, a 5-millisecond pixel response time, and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. In addition, it has DVI/HDCP-ready connectivity for viewing HD content. At only an additional $20, this monitor offers high-end graphics performance for a low-end price.

To push this monitor, you have the option of the not-terribly-impressive integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 or, for an extra $50, a 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE TurboCache card.

For talking to the world beyond the PC, the 530 comes with 10/100M-bps Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.0. You cannot get a modem with this system.

This PC also comes with integrated 7.1 Channel Audio. It does not, however, come with speakers.

It does come with a Dell USB keyboard and Dell optical USB mouse. After plugging these in, you'll still have eight USB 2.0 ports. You can also get a 13-in-1 Media Card Reader and/or a 3.5-inch floppy drive as an option.

The 530 starts at a base price of $449 with all the usual support options. Shipments will begin in mid-July.

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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