Dell gives more ultrabook in smaller body

As expected, Dell has joined the ultrabook foray, announcing the XPS 13 at Consumer Electronics Show 2012. Thin and lights aren't new for Dell, but joining the announce-now-and-ship-later CES crowd is disappointing. As a build-to-order maker, Dell is known for shipping right away. If you want an XPS 13, however, the Round Rock, Texas PC maker will make you wait until the "end of February".

The XPS 13 inherits from its predecessors, like the XPS 14: The screen is edge-to-edge, allowing for a larger display in a smaller enclosure. Dell boasts a 13.3-inch screen in the size of an 11.6-inch portable, claiming the frameless display reduces XPS 13's footprint by 15 percent compared to comparable 13.3-inch laptops. Looking at the product photo, I don't see how the screen is any more frameless than Apple's MacBook Air.

For comparison, 11.6-inch MacBook Air measures 0.11-0.68 inches thick by 11.8 inches wide by 7.56 inches deep. XPS 13: 0.24-0.71 by 12.4 by 8.1 inches deep, putting it midway between the smaller MacBook Air and the 13.3-inch model, which measures 0.11-0.68 by 12.8 by 8.94 inches.

"From the edge-to-edge frameless display that packs more screen into a compact body, to the innovative carbon fiber base that is lightweight and cool to the touch, the XPS 13 exemplifies our commitment to offering industry-leading mobile solutions that deliver durability and performance without compromise", Jeff Clarke, Dell vice chairman, says.

Specs, according to Dell:

  • Ultrathin laptop (0.24-0.71"/6-18mm) with Microsoft Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium; precision machined aluminum with a carbon fiber composite base
  • Intel Core i5 2467M and i7 2637M processor choices
  • 13.3” HD WLED, 300-nit (1366x768) 720p; edge-to-edge hardened Gorilla Glass
  • Intel HD 3000 video graphics
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333Mhz memory
  • 128 GB SSD or 256GB SSD drive options
  • Full size, backlit chiclet keyboard; glass integrated button touchpad with multi-gesture support
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11 A/G/N and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity
  • High definition audio with Waves MaxxAudio 4
  • Built-in 47WHr 6-cell battery (Dell XPS 13 batteries are built into the laptop and are not replaceable by the customer) offering up to eight hours, fifty-three minutes of battery life[5]; 45W AC adaptor
  • USB 3.0 (1) + USB 2.0 with PowerShare (1), mini Display-Port, and headset jack (1)
  • Built-in 1.3MP webcam (H.264 enabled via Skype [4]) with dual array digital microphones
  • Dell ProSupport for business customers, Dell Configuration Services and Windows Trusted Platform Module options for commercial models
  • Dimensions: Height: 0.24-0.71" (6-18mm) / Width: 12.4" (316mm) / Depth 8.1" (205mm); Weight: starting at 2.99lbs (1.36 kg)

XPS is Dell's premium brand, and it shows in the ultrabook's pricing, which starts at $999 with Core i5 processor, 128GB solid-state storage and 4GB RAM. That makes XPS 13 among the priciest ultrabooks announced at CES.

The XPS brand "is now 20 percent of Dell’s total consumer laptop business" the company says. "Revenue for XPS laptops has increased 207 percent over last year when the company re-launched the brand".

XPS 13 buyers will receive 100GB of cloud storage from Dell and 12-month Skype Premium subscription. The first 10,000 buyers also will receive a T-Mobile 4G Mobile Hotspot with 90-days free service.

Photo courtesy of Dell

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