The first Dell consumer ultrabook is here, and it can be yours—if you're willing to part with $999, that is. Dell has started taking orders for the XPS 13, a 13-inch ultrabook that undercuts Apple's MacBook Air while retaining all-important attributes like exclusively solid-state storage and a slick metallic chassis.
Unlike the Air, the XPS 13's body isn't made out entirely of aluminum. Dell talks of a "carbon fiber composite base" and a "magnesium palmrest with soft touch paint." In any case, it doesn't sound like the company cheaped out. The XPS 13 weighs in at only 2.99 lbs, and its thickness ranges from 0.24" at the front to 0.71" at the rear.
Inside that bundle of metal and carbon, one will find a 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M processor and a 128GB solid-state drive. That's for the base, $999 model. Standard features also include 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, Intel HD Graphics 3000, and a 47-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery rated for just under nine hours of run time. On the connectivity side, Dell provides 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 3.0, and mini DisplayPort. Pricier variants of the XPS 13 are available, of course, if you'd like a larger SSD, a faster CPU, or 4G wireless.
Though the XPS looks solid enough, I'm a little disappointed by its display resolution: only 720p, according to Dell. Whether that means 1280x720 or 1366x768, it's still not that great compared to the MacBook Air's 1440x900 or the Asus Zenbook UX31's 1600x900. And did I mention the UX31 is on sale for $1049 right now? Yeah, I don't know about you, but I'd gladly pay $50 for the extra pixels. (Thanks to Engadget for the tip.)