Stop the Noiz

Dell Studio Hybrid Just Another Mini PC Lacking Any Real Innovation

Frank Fox - 2008.08.04 - Tip Jar

Dell has released its new Studio Hybrid.

What is it a hybrid of?

Is it a cross between a fruit-colored iMac and a Mac mini?

Did Dell think that it could cash in on the popularity of hybrid cars?

Why is Dell doing this type of computer in the first place?

Let me point out, to all the Windows loving crowd, that Dell is charging a premium for this pint-sized computer. The Dell Inspiron 530s starts at $299, while the Studio Hybrid is $499. That's a $200 premium for an underpowered, non-upgradeable computer.

A Windows lover should recognize this as the same criticism that they have been giving to the Mac mini for years. What's wrong? Why can't Dell do better on pricing?

Before everyone gets their fangs out, I'll admit that Dell is at least beating the current pricing on the Mac mini. This doesn't impress me, and I'll say more on this later.

Dell Studio HybridThere is only one thing that I am impressed with: on the back there is an HDMI connector for connecting directly to an HD TV. That feature is totally absent on today's Mac mini. The Dell Hybrid is geared more toward the living room than the desktop.

I am slightly impressed.

Let's go back to pricing. The Dell Hybrid is missing WiFi at the $499 price. That will set you back another $70. The Mac mini starts at $599 and comes with WiFi and Bluetooth. That means the Hybrid is really only $30 cheaper. It does have a bigger hard drive and comes with a DVD burner, and since it was just released, there's no surprise that the specs are slightly higher for the drive.

What doesn't make sense is why Dell would release this model. There have been no reports from Apple that the Mac mini is a big seller. Apple has gone out of its way to ignore development, and it needs a major refresh.

What did Dell see that it spent R&D money on this kind of project? Dell isn't known for spending a lot on R&D development.

Dell Blinked

In my opinion, Dell blinked. That's right, in the contest between Apple and Dell over what product to release next, Dell made a guess and moved before Apple. Because Dell had the model ready, they decided to release it and try to get press coverage to spark sales.

Because Dell blinked first, they are wide open for Apple to release a product and one up them. Dell's has a 120 GB hard drive, so Apple can release the next mini with a 200 GB drive, etc. Unfortunately for Dell, that would be too easy.

They would love a price war with Apple to see who has better control of their supply chain. Loss on margins would hurt Apple's share price far more than it would damage Dell's, and they sell more computers to offset the loss. It would be bloody, and Dell would probably win.

Dell Studio Hybrid

You can see that in this battle Dell didn't just try to pitch another low-cost model - they already have plenty. This time they tried to have a little style (but the fake bamboo covering for an extra $130 is a joke). They know that Apple isn't going to hit them with a price war. It will be a battle of style, design, and features. That is not Dell's strong area. Worse is they came out first, so Apple has time to tweak their design before launch.

I am already on record: I think Apple will release a new minitower to give Dell and HP a run for their money.

I think the Studio Hybrid is a sign that Dell also thinks so and is trying to get ready. Will Apple fool us all by releasing something completely unexpected, or will we see Apple and Dell battle it out?

I'm hoping for a fight with lots of blows being exchanged to get the most customers lined up. I'm ready to replace my Mac mini, and I don't want a Studio Hybrid. I'm betting that Apple will remain the champ and Dell will walk away looking like the chump! LEM

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