Dell's $US499 XPS 10 matches price of Microsoft's Surface tablet

Dell's XPS 10 tablet will be available for $499 and will ship in the coming weeks

Dell's XPS 10 tablet with Windows RT will start at $US499, matching the price of Microsoft's Surface tablet that became available last week.

The XPS 10 has a 10-inch screen, weighs 635 grams, and provides about 8 hours of battery life. The XPS 10 has a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, which is based on ARM architecture.

Dell will sell an optional dock that has a keyboard, touchpad and battery, which adds eight more hours of run time to the XPS 10 tablet. The tablet is $679 with the dock.

The XPS 10 can be ordered now, and the device will ship in the coming weeks, the company said. Dell couldn't immediately comment on specific countries in which the tablet will ship.

The tablet is targeted at home and business use, said Alison Gardner, director of product group brand and messaging at Dell. As the use of personal mobile devices grows in the workplace, Dell has added features for system administrators to easily secure and manage the tablet.

For example, IT managers can remotely disable the tablet if lost or stolen. Custom software images can also be deployed across a fleet of XPS 10 tablets.

"It depends on what the IT manager is willing to deal with or the features they prioritize," Gardner said.

The XPS 10 will come with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview, which will include Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. However, Windows RT will not run existing Windows applications.

"The thought process for ARM was really around the battery life, performance equation," Gardner said.

Connectivity features including 3G/4G mobile broadband options will be offered with the tablet in the future, Gardner said. The S4 chip in the XPS 10 already has a built-in LTE radio.

Dell also said that its new 10-inch Latitude 10 tablet with Microsoft's Windows 8 Pro will start at $699 and ship in the coming weeks. The tablet, which has Intel's Atom processor code-named Clover Trail, is targeted at businesses with features like a replaceable battery and x86 support to run legacy Windows applications, Gardner said. The Latitude 10 tablet will replace the company's existing business tablet called Latitude ST, which has an older Intel tablet processor and Windows 7.

Dell's XPS 10 marks a comeback to the consumer tablet market after the company's previous Android-based devices failed. Dell stopped selling the Streak 5 tablet-phone device and Streak 7 tablet last year, and the company's new tablet strategy revolves around Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 and RT. The company also wants to sell higher-margin mobile devices as it looks to improve profitability.

The $499 price for XPS 10 was no surprise to Sarah Rotman Epps, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

"They are competing with not just the iPad, but also Microsoft's Surface tablet with RT," Rotman Epps said. "Any RT tablet that comes in above that [$499] price will really struggle."

Dell will likely sell more tablets with Windows than it did with Android, Rotman Epps said.

"Android just wasn't a product that people wanted to buy from Dell," Rotman Epps said, adding that Dell is still a strong brand, and Windows is a better fit for the company's hardware.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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