The two companies dominating the charts when it comes to laptops faced off directly at CES, right down the hall from one another. Lenovo is known best for its ThinkPad line, long ago purchased from IBM and still the benchmark by which all others are judged. Dell was proud to show that it had a very deep product line, from cutting-edge laptops to VR gaming machines to ground-breaking monitors.
Dell had an impressive array of products on display for 2016, proving that it hasn't lost a step since going private last year. One of the most notable products on display was Alienware's new 13 OLED laptop, the very first gaming laptop on the market with an OLED display. Amazingly, Dell hasn't had to bump the price despite moving from the previous QHD+ display to this QHD OLED model. Yes, you lose a bit of resolution, but the incredible response times and contrast ratio make it a much better pick for a gaming laptop. How does a 1-2ms response time, 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and a mind-blowing 104% color gamut sound? In our hands-on demo of the laptop, the colors were incredibly rich and deep, well beyond anything we'd seen before. Dell is targeting a March release and a retail price of around $1,500.
Also featured was Dell's absolutely jaw-dropping UP3017QA. Now, we have to admit that the product name isn't too catchy, but let's just ignore that and get to the specs: it's a premium Ultrasharp 30" Display, featuring a 4K OLED panel with an absurd 400,000:1 (the highest that can be measured), 0.1ms response time, full 100% Adobe RBG coverage....and a price of $5,000. Obviously, this isn't a product for the average consumer, but for content creators, it is quite simply the ultimate monitor.
We pulled one of Dell's monitor engineers aside to ask a bit where Dell is going with more gaming-focused monitors, and they admitted they've been a bit slow to jump on the G-Sync/Freesync bandwagon, instead relying on its Ultrasharp line of 60Hz monitors, which had long been popular with gamers, to satisfy the gaming market. Of course, that was only gonig to work for so long, and Dell is indeed looking to move beyond its single entry so far, the S2716DG, which uses a 144Hz-capable TN-based panel. While nothing's official yet, it sounds like we can expect to additional gaming-focused monitors from Dell later this year (notably, not using the Ultrasharp branding).
Outside of the OLED realm, Dell also had some pretty impressive business-oriented products, including its amazing new Latitute 7000-series 14" aptop, which Dell is marketing as the lightest "business laptop" in the world at 2.48lb. We asked Dell what the benchmark for business laptops was, and not surprisingly its the Lenovo Carbon X1. The Latitute is based on the XPS13, which stole the show last year, and looks to have pushed the design a step further in terms of both weight and thickness. Dell is targeting an early-March release date.
Also on display was the 7000-series tablet, which Dell is calling the world’s lightest 12.5” 2-in-1. It features a 4K display with Gorilla Glass and a sleek magnesium alloy frame. In addition to being dockable on its included keyboard, it can also be docked to a separate monitor dock, providing a truly across-the-board computing solution. Its magnetic mechanism allows one-handed detach, and at 2.8lb and 15mm thick, it's quite portable.
Dell was also kind enough to let us try out a production-ready version of the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset on an Alienware X51 slim desktop sporting a GeForce GTX 970 video card. Dell is in the process of getting the Alienware X51 certified as Oculus-ready, and their engineers informed us that the GTX 970 is just about the minimum card you'll want to use to get the most out of the Rift. The VR experience, as demonstrated with Lucky's Tale to be included with the Rift, was most definitely a unique experience. Being able to get a 360-degree view of the game world was pretty amazing, although doing so while moving the character did induce a bit of vertigo.
VR is going to be something that people have to learn how to use - it's not quite as simple as viewing content on a screen. But judging from the long lines of showgoers waiting to try the VR experience, it will be a hot topic for quite some time!