Direct-to-consumer PC maker Alienware will begin testing a mall-based kiosk in the Dadeland Mall near Miami sometime before Thanksgiving, and the company announced a revamp to its consumer notebook line.
The kiosk, similar in size to Dell's facilities, will sport a space alien theme and is intended to be a showcase for Alienware's consumer products, said Linda Roberds, the company's product marketing manager. The kiosks will also feature Alienware computer accessories and its upcoming portable MP3 player that is expected to launch in December.
The test will run through the holidays, Roberds said, and in all likelihood will lead to the program's expansion. She could not give any further details on these plans other than to say that the company has no intention of going outside the kiosk concept.
“We will not open up our own retail locations,” she said.
The kiosk will give customers a chance to experience first-hand Alienware's gear and place orders. During the test period the kiosk will be manned not only by a sales staff, but company executives are expected to be on hand to gauge the kiosk's success.
The upgraded notebook line now has support for Microsoft's XP, XP Pro and Media Center Edition operating systems as well as a TV tuner and wide aspect ratio displays. Alienware has extended throughout the category its Silent Mode battery life extension technology and PowerCinema feature that allows the notebooks multimedia functions to be accessed without booting up the computer.
The new top-end unit is the Aurora m7700, a desktop replacement unit that with a weigh of about 13 pounds is less portable and more of a “luggable” unit, Roberds said. It is intended for the hard-core gamer who needs to take a high-powered computer to a LAN party or for professionals requiring a massive amount of processing power and storage. The unit is powered by the AMD Athlon 64 FX chip, with the dual-core version available. The line has a 17-inch display and two hard drive slots, and it can support all optical drive options.
The m7700 becomes available in November with a starting price of $2,500.
The Sentia m3200, in size at least, is on the opposite side of Alienware's line. When it becomes available in early November, this 4-pound ultra-portable will sport a $999 starting price. It has a 12.1-inch screen, the Intel Pentium M processor line, a 240GB hard drive and can handle up to 2GB of memory.
The Area-51 m5500 and m5700 models, starting price $1,399, are geared for the casual gamer and those looking for a full-featured, moderately expensive notebook. Both units can be configured with Intel Pentium M processors, up to 2GB of memory and NVIDIA geForce go 6600 graphics cards. The m5500 has a 15.4-inch display and starts with a 120GB hard drive, while the m5700 has a 17-inch CLD and doubles the hard drive space. Both become available in about two weeks.