With new Venue tablets, Dell signals its PC division is alive and kicking

Dell launched two new Android tablets and two new Windows tablets

Dell sent a message that it intends to keep its PC division alive with the launch of new Venue tablets on Wednesday.

The company launched two Venue tablets with Android, and two with Microsoft's latest Windows 8.1 OS. The tablets will come with screen sizes ranging from 7 inches to 11 inches.

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All the tablets will be available in November.

The Android tablets include the Dell Venue 7, which will have a 7-inch screen, and the Venue 8, which will have an 8-inch screen. The Venue 7 will be priced at $149, and the Venue 8 will be priced at $179.

The Venue 7 and 8 run on older Intel Atom processors that were announced last year, and not the latest Atom processors code-named Bay Trail. Both tablets have screen resolutions of 1280 x 800 pixels, Micro-SD slots and Wi-Fi.

The new Windows 8.1 tablets include the Venue 8 Pro, which will have an 8-inch screen, and the Venue 11 Pro, which has a 10.8 inch screen. The latter can be a tablet, or laptop with attachable keyboard or docking station. The tablets will run on Intel's latest processors. The Venue 8 Pro starts at $299, and the Venue 11 Pro starts at $499.

The Venue 8 Pro has a Bay Trail processor and up to 64G-bytes of storage. It has a 1.2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel back camera. It weighs 388 grams.

The Venue 10 Pro has a range of processor options ranging from Bay Trail to the latest Haswell processors. The device weighs 726 grams. It has up to 256GB of storage, NFC capabilities and a 2-megapixel front camera and an 8-megapixel back camera.

Other features on Dell's new Venue Pro tablets with Windows 8.1 include Micro-SD card readers and LTE mobile broadband connectivity.

Dell's new tablet lineup did not include a device with Microsoft's Windows RT OS. Dell's last XPS 10 tablet with Windows RT was discontinued last week.

The company does not plan to refresh its line of Windows RT tablets, said Neil Hand, vice president at Dell, during a launch event in New York.

Dell's new tablets also revive the Venue brand name, which the PC maker abandoned when it discontinued its shipment of smartphones early last year. Dell earlier launched Venue smartphones running Windows Phone and Android in 2011.

The new tablets also indicate that Dell is retaining its PC division. Michael Dell reassured customers that the company would retain its PC division after shareholders last month approved a deal in which the CEO and associate Silver Lake Partners would take the company private for $24.9 billion. It had been speculated that the poorly performing division might be axed after the company goes private.

A billion people will be using a tablet by 2017 and it remains an important category for Dell, Hand said.

"We are dedicated to growing a tablet business in the company," Hand said.

During a video to start the presentation, the company invoked its reputation as a PC innovator.

"It's a very exciting time for us at Dell," said Sam Burd, vice president of personal computer group, during the event.

The company also launched three XPS laptops with Intel's latest fourth-generation Core processors code-named Haswell. The XPS 11 is a Windows 8 laptop that converts into a tablet. It has a 2560x1440 resolution screen.

The other XPS laptops include the XPS 13, which has a 13-inch screen, and the XPS 15, which has a 3200x1800 display.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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