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Spoilt for choice in the laptop jungle? Well, the choice just got harder with a clutch of new notebooks from Dell, including its long-awaited entry into the tablet PC market.

Until now, Dell has distributed third-party tablet PCs. It hopes the launch of the Dell Latitude XT will expand the appeal of tablet PCs beyond their current niche of vertical markets.

Other new laptops include an ultra-portable model, the Latitude D430, two Intel-based models, the Dell 630 and D830, and the AMD-based D531. Reflecting the IT industry’s growing green awareness, these notebooks can be configured to conform to the new stricter Energy Star 4.0 regulations.

…and more notebooks

This time they are from Hewlett-Packard, which is blitzing the market with 16 models. If you can not take your home theatre on the road, how about the next best thing: a laptop with a 20-inch screen, the Pavilion HDX. Great for juggling monster spreadsheets – or watching Shrek III – but it costs almost $3,000 and weighs more than 15lb.

More useful for road warriors is the ultra-thin HP Compaq 2710p which has a tablet screen you can write on and weighs 3.6lbs. Its keyboard has a built-in nightlight, so the dedicated can keep working when the rest of the aircraft cabin is asleep. Some of HP’s new notebooks use Intel’s latest Centrino Pro Mobile technology, which rival Dell has yet to employ.

Forensic detection

UK-based Autonomy has launched new software to track and trace forensically the lifecycle of every piece of data within an organisation. Based on Autonomy’s existing Intelligent Data Operating Layer (Idol) technology, the new module, called Idol Echo, is designed to help big business keep on top of increasingly tough compliance rules and regulations.

For example, using Idol Echo, a company can track exactly who has heard, seen or forwarded an incriminating e-mail or voice mail.

Oracle CRM

Oracle has announced a new release of its home-grown range of CRM software, thus confounding those who expected it to push existing users of Oracle E-Business Suite CRM on to the Siebel CRM platform (Oracle acquired Siebel, the CRM market leader, in 2005).

Oracle E-Business Suite 12 CRM has a simplified user interface and streamlined CRM task flow, so processes such as placing an order can be completed without leaving the CRM application.

Access to BI

Microsoft has given the world a preview of the next version of its popular database, SQL Server. The new product, code-named Katmai, is designed to “democratise” business intelligence (BI), making it easier to deploy BI data and applications throughout the enterprise. This is done through tighter integration with Microsoft front-end applications and SharePoint Server.

The thinking behind Katmai is that any office worker should be able to access BI data using a familiar spreadsheet. Katmai will not be released commercially until 2008.

BI contender

Jaspersoft, an up-and-coming contender in the BI industry, has announced the latest release of its open-source BI software, Jaspersoft BI Suite version 2. Four new programs have been added to the Jaspersoft suite and it now supports a greater range of operating systems, including various Unix/Linux variants, Windows Vista and Windows 2000.

It is available in French, German, Italian and Japanese, as well as English. Jaspersoft sells its products with conventional licences but an open-source edition can be downloaded free of charge.

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