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Dell Inc., one of the world’s largest suppliers of personal computers, on Monday announced its first systems featuring Blu-ray drive. Dell’s XPS 1710 is also the industry’s second laptop with the optical drive format backed by Sony Corp. after Sony’s own Vaio mobile computer.

“We continue to see PCs – both desktops and notebooks – functioning as the entertainment and productivity hub in the home and on the road with their versatility, power, connectivity, and vibrant high-definition displays. We believe high-definition video powered by Blu-ray Disc technology will be a significant part of that entertainment experience,” said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president, Dell Product Group.

Dell XPS 1710 notebook was originally unveiled in April this year and is positioned as a machine for gamers and multimedia enthusiasts. Since the introduction, the new laptop has faced significant upgrades: Dell now installs more powerful processors and graphics accelerators into the system and can put in larger hard disk drive.

Top-of-the-range Dell XPS M1710 comes with 17” UXGA (1600x1200) screen, Intel Core 2 Dui T7600 (2.33GHz) processor, Nvidia GeForce Go 7950 GTX graphics adapter with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, up to 4GB of dual-channel DDR2 PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2 SDRAM, up to 160GB hard disk drive, CD/DVD/Blu-ray burner, wireless 802.11g networking, TV-tuner and so on. Dell installs Windows Media Center edition operating system and may bundle the remote control with the laptop as well.

This holiday season, customers worldwide can purchase Dell XPS M1710 notebooks configured with Blu-ray technology. Pricing with BD burner included starts at approximately $3699.

Dell’s XPS 1710 is the world’s second notebook with Blu-ray technology. Earlier Sony introduced its Vaio AR190G mobile computer with Blu-ray disc burner installed. Both machines cost approximately the same amount of money and also have considerable weight, thus, are unlikely to be “trip-friendly”. Competing HD DVD technology is available in laptops from Acer, Asus, HP and Toshiba. However, neither of those machines can burn HD DVDs. While this is may seem to be a drawback, users of laptops with up to 160GB hard drives hardly have anything to burn on 15GB, 30GB or 50GB discs.

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