Dell targets iPod Mini with new MP3 player

Dell Inc. took the wraps off its holiday lineup on Thursday, showing new printers, plasma televisions and music players that will soon be available through its Web site.

Dell introduced two new models in its Dell DJ (Digital Jukebox) line of digital music players. One of the new versions, the 4.4-ounce, 5G-byte Pocket DJ, is a lightweight player intended to rival Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod Mini. Dell's Pocket DJ is larger than the iPod Mini, but it's also cheaper, with a retail price of $200 versus the iPod Mini's $250.

Dell's other new DJ is an updated version of its 20G-byte model. The company is adding Microsoft Corp.'s Media Transfer Protocol and Digital Rights Management technology, code named Janus, to its media players; the technology will be added to existing DJs later this year and in early 2005 to the models introduced on Thursday. Customers will be able to upgrade their DJs to incorporate the new software at Dell's Web site.

Dell's two new, 42-inch plasma televisions are the company's first entry into that market, where it hopes to undercut competitors. Dell's high-end W4200HD will sell for US$3,500 and support high-definition content, with resolution of 1024 vertical lines by 768 horizontal lines. Dell will also offer the W4200ED, priced at $2,300, featuring resolution of 852 by 480.

"This is a logical extension of our flat-panel market," said Mike George, general manager and vice president of Dell's U.S. consumer business.

Dell already offers several smaller LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions. It added a new model to that line on Thursday, introducing the 19-inch W 1900 LCD TV, priced at $900.

The new media players and the plasma TVs will be available for ordering later this month and will begin shipping in early November, Dell said. The plasma TVs can currently only be shipped in the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii, but George said Dell is working to expand distribution to Europe and Asia.

Dell held its holiday showcase at the DigitalLife show in New York, where George said the "digital lifestyle" idea is one Dell will be focusing on as it crafts its products and advertising campaigns. The company is experimenting with four of its 80 Dell Direct stores (which do not carry inventory; shoppers can evaluate Dell products at the shops but still need to order them online), redesigning them around a digital life theme to show how Dell's products can work together in the home. If those prototype stores -- in Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles -- prove popular, Dell will expand the design, George said.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments