A deep dive into Dell’s 2024 AI-powered laptop portfolio with Atul Mehta, Senior Director and General Manager, India Consumer Channel, Dell Technologies

If I ask you to name a prominent laptop brand that has a laptop for all possible use cases, chances are you’d say Dell. Dell has a vast portfolio ranging from the uber premium Alienware and XPS targeted at hardcore gamers and premium thin and light users respectively, to the G-series and Inspiron targeted at the budding gamer and versatile productivity user respectively.

At the launch of Dell’s 2024 PC portfolio for India, I had a chance to chat with Atul Mehta, Senior Director and General Manager, India Consumer Channel, Dell Technologies. I told him about how I had personally experienced Dell’s phenomenal after-sales service when my Dad’s Dell Inspiron laptop display died. The display was delivered to my dad’s house and a technician came home to fix it all in 4-5 working days. It all happened without my ageing dad leaving the house converting him into a Dell loyalist.

Atul tells me that Dell maintains a “gold standard” for after-sales service, delivering parts to consumers on the same business day or the next business day wherever possible. The brand also has a whopping 600 offline stores across 400 cities in addition to partnering with e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart and selling on Dell’s own India website.

Atul has been with Dell for more than 15 years and he has seen some incredible devices launch. However, he tells me that his favourite has been the 11-inch Alienware he used after joining Dell. I remember checking out the M11X from Alienware back in 2010-2011. It was a beautiful compact machine. And while I reminisce about the technology of the past, you can check out my detailed interaction with Atul about Dell’s future products powered by AI below.

Can you shed light on the laptop lineup you’ve announced today? Can you touch upon the different models, prices, and availability for those unaware?

Absolutely, our new line-up of AI-enabled consumer PCs includes the XPS 14 & 16, Alienware m16 R2, and the Inspiron 14 Plus. All the devices are powered by Intel® Core™ Ultra processors with integrated artificial intelligence (AI) for enhanced performance and efficiency, representing a major advancement in computing experiences for professionals, creators, gamers, and students.

The bold design of the XPS 13 Plus introduced in 2022 has forever changed the visual identity of the XPS brand. There is now one unifying design across XPS laptops with new screen sizes, 16 and 14, that come equipped with a built-in AI key. The XPS 16 is the frontrunner of the new lineup, providing superior performance for the most demanding projects. With up to Intel® Core™ Ultra 9 processor and NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4060 graphics, the device offers up to 45% more performance than the previous XPS 15. The XPS 14 stands out as a creative companion that marries sleek aesthetics with formidable performance. With up to the NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4050 GPU and up to 47W of sustained performance, it provides extra horsepower for handling diverse creative workloads.

The Alienware m16 R2 is an engineering marvel that prioritizes performance and portability while retaining Alienware’s core tenets that customers love. It features significant upgrades over the previous gen such as the removal of the thermal shelf, the new Stealth Mode for personalised usage, and AI-packed features across the board. The Inspiron 14 Plus completes the portfolio, offering a slew of AI-based upgrades, including the new AI-enabled auto framing, and visual enhancements, making it a more creative yet compact powerhouse.

All our devices will be available for purchase across Dell.com, Dell Exclusive Stores (DES), large format retail, and multi-brand outlets. While the Inspiron 14 Plus is already available for purchase in the market, the Alienware m16 R2 and the XPS portfolio will be available starting April 9th and April 25th, respectively.

The base configuration of the Alienware m16 R2 costs less than INR 1,50,000, while the Inspiron 14 Plus starts at INR 1,00,000. The XPS 16 and XPS 14 machines are priced at INR 2,99,990 and INR 1,99,990, respectively.

AI seems to be the new buzzword in the world of PCs. Can you elaborate on how these AI PCs will make consumer’s lives easier? Why should someone be motivated to upgrade to an AI PC?

In 2020, we witnessed a shift in PC consumption as work from home and virtual learning peaked, and PCs became an integral part of everyday lives. Today, we are experiencing another wave of innovation that is making PCs more intelligent and self-aware with the integration of AI.

The emergence of AI-enabled PCs marks a significant leap in technology and user experience. AI brings in a fresh array of capabilities by making everyday computing sophisticated. It is set to influence the way we work by cutting through mundane tasks and letting users spend more time in problem-solving and focus on what really matters.

A significant breakthrough lies in the advent of the new Intel® Core™ Ultra processors, which feature a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU). With the NPU, the PC no longer needs to rely solely on the Central Processing Unit (CPU) or Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for processing and performance. Instead, they can intelligently allocate resources, selecting the most suitable compute engine for various workloads. This advancement heralds a new era of efficiency and productivity for users.

For years, Dell has been at the forefront of developing innovative PCs. We have been able to engineer solutions that cater to a variety of use cases by keeping the user and their needs in mind at all stages of development. AI can potentially transform the PC experience, and we are ready for it.

IDC report says that the PC market declined this past year in India. Do you think the wave of AI PCs will change that?

We believe it is too early to comment on that, but it is certainly an exciting opportunity to provide consumers with an enhanced computing experience through richer configurations and higher ASPs. A good analogy is the adoption of the internet when the emphasis was on the PC as a key enabler. People realised they needed a new PC with a network and a Wi-Fi card to complete the experience. Now, a PC isn’t a PC if it isn’t internet-ready and wirelessly enabled. Customers will expect AI-enabled PCs to become the new standard.

Since these are new AI PCs customers will want to experience them first-hand. Can you shed light on the offline retail experience for these new machines?

As a brand, we place a high value on providing our customers with the best-in-class experience possible. We call ourselves a “customer-obsessed” company because we truly believe that it is our customers who drive us to innovate our product lines year after year. We are continuing to strengthen our omnichannel ecosystem by enabling a strong purchase experience at every touchpoint, whether our customers prefer to buy a product in a store, online, or a combination of the two. This is made possible by our network of close to 600 DES, major 3 Large Format Retail outlets, and over 5000 Multi-Brand Outlets spread across 400 cities in India, which provide full support at various stages. We also understand the scale of a market as large as India, so we are consciously expanding the presence of our stores and products in tier 2 and tier 3 markets, thereby reaching out to a larger community of PC enthusiasts. All our DES have also been redesigned to provide an immersive experience to everyone who walks in. This includes having bright and vibrant colours, making the entire product ecosystem available, and having the right executives who can assist customers with their purchases.

Dell has a slew of exclusive stores for gaming and non-gaming audiences. Can you shed light on how they are performing? Why should someone who hasn’t visited a store make the trip?

Physical stores are becoming centres of entertainment experiences and that is precisely what we’ve done with our Alienware gaming stores in Delhi, Kolkata, and a gaming section in Hyderabad. They are not just stores, but hubs for gamers and enthusiasts to meet, interact, and play their favourite titles on Dell’s latest devices, while also exploring the various accessories and peripherals on offer. In terms of design, the stores reflect Dell and Alienware’s core principles of innovation, interaction, and community building – thus creating a brand halo across. We’ve incorporated creative elements as well as superior technologies to keep gamers engaged and provide them with a comprehensive experience. For instance, all the stores feature something known as the “Battle Zone,” which is essentially a section for gamers to face off against their opponents and try out the entire available ecosystem of devices.

We also regularly host on-ground activities at these stores, such as ‘Alienware Gaming Saturdays’, which feature weekly in-store activations, meet-and-greet sessions with gaming influencers, esports tournaments, and initiatives aimed at promoting gaming as a career path and fostering inclusivity, thereby propelling community growth.

Can you shed light on some of the USP Dell offers as customer experience both during purchase and after-sales?

We firmly believe that technology should seamlessly align with individual needs, whether you’re an avid gamer or a discerning creative professional. Our online support infrastructure is a reliable guide throughout the purchasing process, providing detailed specifications, informative buying guides, and flexible financing options to suit a wide range of preferences.

This commitment goes beyond the point of sale. We provide comprehensive after-sales support (ProSupport), including standard warranties and optional extended coverage, to provide our customers with additional comfort. If you require technical assistance, our dedicated support channels, which include phone, chat, and email, will ensure that any questions or concerns are addressed quickly and effectively. In addition, our extensive library of online resources, which includes manuals and troubleshooting guides, enables users to address common issues independently.

This unwavering dedication towards serving our customers and providing them with the best-in-class experience has resulted in Dell Technologies being named India’s most trusted brand for the fifth consecutive year, according to TRA’s Brand Trust Report 2024. We intend to stay true to our title and lead through innovation.