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Dell announces XPS 11 hybrid, will ship with Windows 8.1

The device can be used as a tablet or laptop

Dell has expanded its range of hybrid devices with the XPS 11, which can transform from tablet to laptop with the flip of a screen.

The XPS 11 has a hinge that allows the panel holding its 11.6-inch screen to be folded almost 360 degrees so that the device can be used as a tablet. The design is similar to that of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga hybrids, which are available with 11- and 13-inch screens.

Dell announced the hybrid on the sidelines of the Computex trade show being held in Taipei. It will ship later this year with Windows 8.1, code-named Blue. Pricing was not disclosed.

The XPS 11 keyboard is tightly integrated into the chassis, so the keyboard buttons don’t stick out when the device is being used in a tablet mode. The 2560 x 1440 pixel display has a Gorilla Glass layer for durability. The device will ship with an Intel Core i5 processor code-named Haswell.

Dell is beefing up its laptop, tablet and hybrid offerings as it tries to keep its XPS line of computers relevant in a poor market for Windows 8 and PCs. The XPS 11 augments a product line that includes the XPS 10 tablet and XPS 12 and XPS 13 hybrids.

The size of the screen matters less than the functionality, portability and battery life, said Kirk Schell, vice president of computing products at Dell, in an interview.

“The thickness, weight and resolution are critical and all of that has to fit in the right package,” Schell said.

Schell sees a diverse computing market ahead. Some consumers prefer tablets, while others will want hybrids with keyboards attached.

“Detachables, convertibles, two-in-ones will be part of the market,” Schell said. “For us, one-size-fits-all is not an answer.”

Dell is the third largest PC vendor in the world behind Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, but its shipments have been falling. Dell started off as a PC maker in the 1980s, but refocused in 2007 to concentrate on the high-margin enterprise market. But the PC division has gained importance again, with the hybrid device market being an area of opportunity for the company.

Whether or not the current proposal to take the company private succeeds, Schell said Dell will continue to expand its client product offerings. Dell once said it would focus on high-margin PC offerings, but Schell said the company will compete at multiple price points as it tries to increase product shipments. The company will try to differentiate by offering more security and support features, and it will also expand in the client computing market through its Wyse thin client division.

Dell will also continue to invest in Windows 8, and evaluate Windows RT and different processor architectures for tablets and laptops, Schell said. Dell today offers XPS 10 with Windows RT and has said it was developing a successor to that tablet.


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Make any Surface TouchScreen

We’ve seen how you can use your hand as TouchScreen. However, with the hack finally being mastered with Kinect technology, you can make just any surface touch screen, no matter what.

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Microsoft researchers have come up with a way to make devices sensitive to touch input through fabric — for silencing a phone or even entering text without taking the device out of a pocket or bag.

PocketTouch uses a custom sensor on the back of a smartphone that can detect multitouch gestures even through heavy fleece or a jacket pocket. The The first prototype is complete and we would see a demonstration sometime soon.

Microsoft uses “orientation-defining unlock gesture” that essentially tells the device which way is up, thereby removing the problem where device can be in a different orientation inside pockets. Grid of touch sensors can detect finger strokes through cloth and hence make it possible to have a specific unlock gesture that reorientates the screen each time you use it – avoiding the need to flip your phone upside down before using the interface.

OmniTouch

OmniTouch makes any surface touch compatible. OmniTouch uses a a pico projector and a depth camera (like Kinect) to let people interact with programs projected onto their skin or other surfaces. Users can define the size and location of their own interfaces, or let the system decide the best choice of display.

The researcher calls it a “mega Kinect hack” and an extension of his previous device which could only work on skin. While the prototype device is quite bulky, soon it would be possible to reduce the size of the equipment to the size of matchbox.

Both systems are being presented this week at the User Interface Software and Technology symposium in Santa Barbara, California.


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Dell Joins Hadoop Crowd With Cloudera Partnership

Dell will add new-generation PowerEdge C servers and networking components, services and its vast channel and sales networks to Cloudera’s software in the new implementation.
Dell on Aug. 4 joined the growing Apache Hadoop commercial implementators’ club by announcing a new partnership with Cloudera — by far the oldest and most production-utilized distribution of the celebrated open source data analytics package.

 

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Cloudera’s was the first commercial implementation of the open source data analytics package that came out of Yahoo’s R&D division in 2006. For its part, Dell will supply new-generation PowerEdge C servers and networking components, services and its vast channel and sales networks to complete the new implementation.

Within those services, Dell will include management tools, training, technology support and other professional services.

“This is a defined reference architecture with a point of view that helps our customers very quickly identify a strategy for the implementation of a Hadoop presence inside of their corporation,” Dell Executive Director of Cloud Solutions John Igoe told eWEEK.

“We see Cloudera is the leader in this particular space. Our vision was to combine their leadership in the Hadoop area with our leadership in hyperscale computing environments. We have a great deal of differentiation here by taking the abilities of both companies and putting them together.”

Specifically, Dell/Cloudera for Apache Hadoop consists of Cloudera, Dell Crowbar software, and Cloudera Enterprise combined with a Dell PowerEdge C2100 server (other models will be added later) and PowerConnect 6248 48-port Gigabit Ethernet Layer 3 switch. Joint service (either Cloudera or Dell) and support and a deployment guide are also included.

Dell/Cloudera for Apache Hadoop can be used in many verticals but will be aimed first at financial services, energy, utility and telecom companies, research institutions, retail businesses, and Internet/media groups, Igoe said.

The new implementation is designed to reduce the complexity of deploying, configuring, and managing Hadoop systems that process large amounts of data enterprises can use to help manage themselves at a generally lower cost than older-school analytics packages and consultancies.

Making Hadoop More Usable Is the Goal

The bottom line is this: Hadoop is complicated software machinery to deploy and utilize, and it lacked a relatively usable front end until Cloudera and others came in to add their expertise. Dell’s idea is to give customers a single source to deploy, manage, and scale a comprehensive Apache Hadoop-based stack, Igoe said.

There are a growing number of companies offering commercial implementations and/or providing support for Hadoop. Cloudera, IBM, Platform Computing were among the first to develop their own commercial Apache Hadoop implementations in recent years.  EMC, NetApp, SGI and Yahoo (with its Hortonworks spinoff) are some of the others.

Igoe said the new reference architecture and all its hardware will be available later in August.


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