Dell has earned some unusual praise for hardware design from the Wall Street Journalis Walt Mossberg for its XPS One, an all-in-one iMac competitor. Mr. Mossberg has for years given Apple the nod for its superior industrial design, but according to his latest column, the XPS One "matches or exceeds the iMac in hardware design."
The XPS One is an all-in-one flat screen computer that follows in the footsteps of the modern iMac, which itself follows the groundwork laid down by the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, but Mr. Mossberg says explicitly that the Dell XPS One "is no mere iMac clone."
"It makes its own style statement," he wrote, "even though it shares the same 20-inch widescreen display and a similar Intel dual-core processor with the base-model iMac. Where the iMac is squarish and silver, the XPS One is all black and rectangular, with speakers attached to the sides and a wide glass base. It looks more like a small TV set than a computer and, in fact, comes with a built-in TV tuner."
The Dell unit also comes with media readers, "craplet" (to use Mr. Mossbergis disparaging wording) trial software, a standard wireless keyboard and mouse, and the ability to turn the screen off with a button without turning off the computer.
Dellis XPS One
As a company, Dell has been more known for commoditizing and cheapening the world of computers, focusing its efforts on how to make and sell computers ever more cheaply.
Mr. Mossberg observed, however, that, "Something interesting is going on at Dell. The Texas personal-computer behemoth, long associated with boxy, boring machines, has started emphasizing industrial design. And the company, which in recent years seemed to care only about corporate customers, techies and hard-core gamers, appears once again interested in average, mainstream consumers who value simplicity."
Despite all this, Mr. Mossberg still recommends Appleis iMac over the Dell XPS One. He noted that Macs are largely immune to "the vast majority of malicious software" out in the wild, and he gives Appleis software the thumbs up over your standard Windows fare.
Lastly -- and this may well bring the topsy-turvy world of Dell being praised for making a good looking computer full circle -- Mr. Mossberg noted that the iMac is cheaper than the Dell XPS One. In its base configuration, Mr. Mossberg said that the iMac is US$300 cheaper than the Dell unit ($1,199 compared to Dellis $1,499.
"Even if you double the memory," he wrote, "and add a wireless keyboard and mouse to match the Dell, itis still $1,399 ? $100 less than the base XPS One (though Dell is currently running a sale that wipes out the $100 gap)."
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