Dell's new Cinema features may provide the best streaming experience this year


Recently, you may have noticed more Dell products making big screen appearances in movies – like the Inspiron Gaming Laptop in Spider-Man: Homecoming – and the company is just as keen on making its products the best devices to watch movies on this year.

Of course, it’s easy to write off these plans as “well, which company wouldn’t want to do that?”, but Dell has engineered a three-pronged approach to give some of its desktops and laptops the best visual, audio and streaming capabilities possible.

Cinema Color

Starting off with displays, Dell isn’t a novice when it comes to breathtaking screens. The company has introduced some of the first OLED 4K, 8K and high-dynamic range (HDR) monitors, and now it hopes to make the latter a display standard for many of its all-in-one PCs and laptops.

To this end, Dell has introduced Cinema Color software to push display vibrancy and contrast levels to simulate a HDR-like viewing experience.

Looking at the real-life difference between two Inspiron 13 7000 (2017) laptops with and without Cinema Color enabled, alongside a MacBook Pro, Dell played a short video of a firefighting documentary on all three machines. On the Cinema Color-enabled laptop we could clearly see distinct wisps of smoke coming off the fire. 

We were honestly more surprised by how off the colors were on the MacBook Pro, although we didn’t get to see how any of the screens’ software settings were calibrated.

More impressively, the Cinema Color software also tricks streaming content providers like Netflix into giving it access to HDR channels, even if a screen doesn’t physically meet the HDR10 or Dolby Vision standards

While both Dell’s laptops and all-in-one PCs benefit from Cinema Color, laptops will gain the greatest added effect. As of right now putting a screen with the display brightness of 1,000-nits on a mobile device is unheard of: 400- to 500-nits are the typical high-benchmark these days, and it would likely result in a battery life of less than eight minutes.

Cinema Sound

Dell is also kicking things up on the audio front with Cinema Sound, which we also heard in action on the Inspiron 13 7000 (2017). More than a month ago we thought the Round Rock electronics firm were merely simulating front-facing speakers with downward-facing hardware, but there’s much more behind the technology.

According to Dell, an ‘Audio Master’ tunes every device for Cinema Sound. The process starts with picking out the optimal loudspeakers and transducers driving the devices’ audio system. From there, engineers test and program the software to specifically enhance each devices' sound profile.

Even after a laptop or AIO desktop ships out from the factory and is in your home, Cinema sound will continue to use the computer’s litany of sensors to optimize audio through computer learning. Meanwhile, smart amplifiers built into each device will intelligently adjust and optimize the speakers to prevent them from blowing out or distorting.

Cinema Streaming

Last but not least, and arguably most crucially, Dell is improving the streaming experience at the wireless connection level.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t involve any magical pixie dust to give you more network speed, instead Cinema Streaming utilizes SmartByte and Killer Wireless' software to intelligently prioritize your bandwidth usage for a bufferless experience. 

If you’ve run into that annoying spinning wheel icon because Windows decided to download an update while you were watching The Defenders on Netflix or a video on YouTube, SmartByte will tell Dell Cinema Streaming to basically deprioritize everything else to make sure the show goes on uninterrupted. It can do the same thing with browser downloads and torrents.

Meanwhile, the XPS line and Alienware products come equipped with Killer Wireless technology that instructs Cinema Streaming to prioritize bandwidth for online gaming and other tasks.

Sadly, these Cinema features won't be coming to every device in its catalog, nor will certain devices come outfitted with all three software solutions we've gone over here.

Rather, Dell tells us that certain products and configurations will have specific features. So, some products will have the Cinema Color and Cinema Sound feature early this year, while others will only come with Cinema Streaming.

Still, Dell's Cinema software sounds exciting, and along with the Kaby Lake Refresh processor upgrades, we can’t wait to give its latest desktops and laptops a spin.

  • Keep up with everything announced at CES 2018