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Michael Dell & Dr. Evil Unveil PCs, Services

LAS VEGAS — Dell CEO Michael Dell challenged America’s telecom industry to increase the rate of fiber-optic broadband penetration in the United States, while rolling out several new gaming and home entertainment PC systems during his Internatioanl CES Day 2 keynote address.

And Dr. Evil, Austin Powers’ arch-enemy, stopped by to order a new PC for his secret lair directly from Michael Dell, during which time he broke the CES keynote record for saying the word “fricking.”

The new PC systems include the Dell Home Media Suite, a Vista-based product bundle that includes an XPS 410 desktop running an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory, 1TB of raid level storage, DVD burner, a just-introduced 27-inch LCD monitor, a Dell all-in-one 966 photo printer, Linksys draft 11N Wi-Fi router and powerline A/V bridge and a digital cable tuner for HDTV reception. The bundle will be available when Vista ships later this month, pricing was not listed for the suite. However, the new 27-inch monitor is also being sold separately for $1,399.

The bundle is part of an effort to make the digital home a reality something that the industry has not managed well, Dell said. Dell blamed the lack of high speed broadband in the United States, along with the industry’s failure to make the digital home entertainment experience truly seamless. Dell did give kudos to Verizon for its FiOS fiber to the home strategy, but said more needed to be done.

“I challenge the telecom industry to accelerate fiber installation to the home,” he told the crowd, adding that only 1 percent of broadband-equipped U.S. homes now have fiber.

On a lighter note, Dell announced, with Dr. Evil’s help, the Dell Data Safe service. The online service enables new PC buyers to download all the data from their old computer onto their new unit. This can be accomplished by the customer or Dell can handle the task in the factory so it arrives ready to go right out of the box.

Dell’s other new products included the XPS 710 H2Ceramic Edition gaming PC, now shipping with a $5,499 street price. The model is the first to use Dell’s two-stage cooling system that runs cooling fluid through a ceramic-based thermoelectric cooling module similar to those used on the space shuttle. The system cools the unit to just above room temperature to ensure that condensation is not created inside the chassis, Dell said.

The base version of the H2Ceramic features and Intel Core Extreme QX6700 quad-core processor over clocked at 3.2GHz, 4GB of DDR2 memory, dual 10,000 rpm 160GB hard drives with slots for two additional drives, two NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX graphic cards, dual optical drive slots, a 20-inch LCD and gaming keyboard, and it runs Windows Media Center.

Dell also brought out Nelson Gonzalez, CEO of Alienware, which Dell bought last year, to introduce two new models from that company. Not all the product details were released during the address, but shipping during the first quarter is a new addition to the Alienware Area 51 line, a notebook based on a 17-inch LCD. In the company’s Hangar 18 Media Center PC series is a PC designed with a stereo component look for use in the living room. It comes with a built in 200-watt amplifier, plus all the ports needed to DVR HD content. Pricing will depend upon final configuration.

Dell has also created a social networking site called Studio Dell that is expected to be up and running in the near future. The first 30 videos on the site will supply consumers and businesses with tips on how to install and operate their computers and peripherals. Dell said that the ability for its customers to download their own videos will be added down the road.