Priced out of expensive video conferencing systems, small business owners and employees typically have to hunch over their laptop PCs to conduct virtual meetings. Those days are over, according to Dell.
A New Small Business Video Conferencing System
The company has launched a new system, dubbed the Dell Chromebox for Meetings, that includes practically all of the components required to host a cloud-based teleconference with multiple, mobile-enabled colleagues and clients (high-definition display not included). Priced at $999, plus a $200 per-year service charge, the system includes a compact Chromebox that packs a 3.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 4 GB of RAM, a full HD (1080p) webcam, a Jabra speaker with an omni-directional microphone and a radio frequency (RF) remote with an integrated QWERTY keyboard.
Dell Chromebox for Meetings supports up to 15 HD streams, according to the company. And since it's powered by Google's Chrome OS, kicking off a virtual meeting is as easy as logging into a Google Hangout. Under its eye-pleasing, user-friendly interface you'll find powerful administration tools—accessible via the Google Admin Panel—which lets you manage meetings, set policies and monitor usage.
The Dell Chromebox shown here with a webcam, speaker, and a remote control with integrated QWERTY keyboard.
During a recent "eyes-on" demo at Dell's New York City office, the device impressed with its space-saving dimensions, crisp visuals and a clean and snappy interface. Paired to a 55-inch monitor, video quality and responsiveness were leagues beyond the typical webcam that ships with today's laptops.
The main unit measures a mere 4.9- by 4.9- by 1.7 inches. The included HDMI and DisplayPort connections (one each) pump video to a HDTV or monitor. Networking options include Wi-Fi and wired gigabit Ethernet (GbE). Expandability is made possible by four USB 3.0 ports, and you can supplement the built-in 16 GB SSD by adding SD card storage.
Dell's Micro PCs and Latitudes with Attitude
Continuing the theme of compact small business IT, Dell also unwrapped new its OptiPlex Micro PCs.
Measuring just 7.17- by 6.93- by 1.4-inches, the PCs are small enough to hang off the back of a computer monitor for an uncluttered, virtually wire-free desktop. Available now in a range of configurations, OptiPlex Micro PCs feature a tool-less design that make upgrades and component swaps a snap. Prices start at $499.
In terms of small business laptops, Dell continues to blur the line between premium devices and office workhorses.
The new Latitude 3000 series includes handsome, solidly-built 14- and 15-inch laptops with comfortable keyboards and bright displays. While they won't be mistaken for razor-thin Ultrabooks, the new Latitudes exhibit none of the blocky, brick-like characteristics of budget business laptops. Their tastefully tapered profiles and solid construction complement grab-and-go lifestyles. A spill resistant keyboard keeps the fallout of a coffee spill (or incredulous spit take) to a minimum.
The new 3000 series is the company's thinnest and lightest yet, at 0.87 inches and a weight of 4.2 pounds for a 14-inch non-touch model. Operating system options include Windows 8, Windows 7 downgrades and Ubuntu Linux. Prices start at $640.
Finally, Dell has extended its line of ruggedized laptops with a new entry model for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with field workers.
The new Latitude 14 Rugged features a sealed, selectable RGB (red, green, blue) backlit keyboard, an outdoor-readable 14-inch resistive touch display (1,366 pixels by 768 pixels), and a battery that lasts up to 14 hours, long after most technicians clock out for the day.
Dell's fourth-generation QuadCool thermal management technology prevents heat buildup and the IP-52-certified chassis keeps dust and water out. Independent MIL-STD-810G testing confirms that the Latitude 14 Rugged can withstand a drop of at least three feet.
Not a selfie fan? A privacy shutter prevents the webcam from capturing images or video in high-security environments. Dell is expected to announce pricing and availability soon.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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