Dell’s 13-inch ultrabook goes up for sale

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 1280×720 or 1366×768, it’s still not that great compared to the MacBook Air’s 1440×900 or the Asus Zenbook UX31‘s 1600×900. 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.)

Comments closed
    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    Swap for brazos, half the price.

    At least give some sort of eIPS display as an option.

      • Goty
      • 8 years ago

      Also less than half the performance (disclaimer: typing on an E-350 machine right now).

      Better battery life, though.

    • cynan
    • 8 years ago

    PC Makers. Converting loyal customers to Mac users one ultrabook release at a time.

    Seriously. Is the Asus Zenbook like the only ultrabook to offer resolutions greater than 1366×768?

      • mattthemuppet
      • 8 years ago

      I doubt it – I’ve never come across cross platform shopping in any of my friends or coworkers. People who want Macs, get Macs and would never consider a windows based PC. People want a computer to do everyday tasks (you know, computing, not looking good in Starbucks), get a windows based PC and would never consider spending $100s extra on a completely alien computer environment. I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone say, “shucks, the screen resolution on this laptop just isn’t high enough for me, I’m going to pay several hundred dollars extra on something I have even less idea of how to use”.

      However, I’m sure there are legions of Mac owners, smug in their own comfortable sense of superiority, that see the PC world as some kind of battle between the dark forces of less than perfect windows PCs and the shining beacon of the Mac. Any perceived imperfection on a windows based PC only serves to reinforce this view.

        • bjm
        • 8 years ago

        How smug of you to say…

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    Nice article, everything reads great until the last paragraph about the resolution. Aaaach! What is with these people! They have been high resolution tablets, but can’t apply it to a laptop? I give up!

    • Jive
    • 8 years ago

    “its thickness ranges from 0.24″ at the front to 0.71″ at the rear.”

    how about the thickness at its thickest point? From the pictures you can see it is clearly much thicker that .71″, i would hardly consider this an ultrabook.

    • Stranger
    • 8 years ago

    I hate to say this but does anyone else not give a shit about solid state drives? The spinning type has more than enough performance for my needs. On the other hand I am always running out of space. Plus I’d rather have a faster GPU than a faster hard drive. Unfortunately the chances of getting a laptop with that is slim to none without paying an arm and a leg but maybe there’s hope that AMD will force intel to greatly improve their integrated graphics.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      More than enough performance for your needs must mean you have incredibly low demand from a boot disk. For me, an SSD’s were a bigger improvement than the change from a single-core to a dual-core. Every single time I use a machine with a mechanical boot disk, it reminds me of how slow things used to be. The “busy” icons, and progress bars can be counted by on the fingers of your hands where on an SSD you could blink and miss it.

      I see SSD’s like this:

      $1000 machine = slow and painful to use
      $1200 machine = lightning quick and how did I ever tolerate my OS on a spinning platter?

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t think ultrabooks are being aimed at people who need lots of hard drive storage.

      The SSD advantage — at the very least, as an OS+general programs drive in tandem with a much larger pool of mechanical storage — isn’t necessarily apparent until you’ve actually used one, and have watched a full-fledged computer cycle through programs and tasks almost as quickly as a good phone or tablet cycles through apps. You truly have no idea how much of your computing experience is being influenced by disk latency until you remove it from the equation.

      Then, you’ll refuse to go back.

      • cynan
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, I sort of agree. For laptops. In form factors that only allow for a single drive. When the laptop is a secondary computer in usage scenarios where disk access time isn’t the be all/end all.

      I’ve had a ~$750 Acer 13.3″ laptop for 2 years now that I use as a secondary computer. I mostly use it to do light document editing, web surfing, email, light media and gaming when traveling. It only has room for a single disk, not even micro SSD. For this type of usage, I just haven’t been able to justify spending half the cost of the laptop for a ~250GB SSD just so it will boot Windows in half the time. I couldn’t live with anything less than 250GB and I would prefer something a bit larger (currently use as much as 300GB of the 500GB HDD).

      However, my next desktop PC build will definitely have an SSD boot drive, as here e-peen, er, performance and multitasking is the name of the game.

        • Sunburn74
        • 8 years ago

        I still honestly snicker everytime I hear someone say “Oh I can’t live without this much space or that much space”. Its really nonsense. Worst case scenario, just turn your old laptop hard drive into a external 2.5inch hard drive and keep your irreplaceable porn stashed there.

          • cynan
          • 8 years ago

          And for the way I use my laptop, I honestly find it more convenient to have all my crap on the boot drive and waiting 35 seconds for Windows to boot instead of 15.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            I understand the single drive option as its easier for backup purposes. Only way to make an effective system image really. I used to put all my games on one HDD and all my music on another, then I got a 1 Tb drive and its been very easy to backup everything with an image including software licenses!!!!

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      Beyond the basic fact that storage is currently the greatest perceivable performance bottle neck for regular use let alone enthusiast applications, beyond that, MOBILE, SSD’s use less power, are “shake proof” They make more sense for mobile than anything else. Good enough performance… dude only in games maybe. Not many things beyond games run so exclusively off the ramp cache, (and even then you get performance gains in games)

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 8 years ago

    This reminds me of that time when every company made their ultrabook with a chiclet keyboard. Because…because that’s what Apple did? The originality is flowing like a river.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 8 years ago

      Isn’t that part of the spec laid out by Intel?

      • sschaem
      • 8 years ago

      Like Sony did in 2003 with their line of vaio ?
      How dare sony read Steve Job mind!!! so unoriginal…
      [url<]http://www.flickr.com/photos/airwave/2236160159/[/url<] And why was Sony making ultrabooks and netbooks almost 10 years ago ! Sony scamming apple again with their time machine. "Lets travel 5 years in the future to see what apple makes, Whoa, Steve is a genius! an ultra thin/lightweight! laptop we seen the future lets make one today" [url<]http://www.vaio.sony.co.jp/Products/PCG-X505/Images/wallpaper_1_1.jpg[/url<] PS: Sorry for my poor Japanese accent...

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      Dude if only everyone copied apple I might get an apple laptop for 300 dollars off with decent windows drivers for my touchpad. That is my dream!!!

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    THAT IS ONE HOT MOMMA!

    Oh my gosh, I really really really really want that! I know the res sucks but the IGPU is crap anyway so its not like it would preform appreciably better at higher resolutions.

    I seriously can swallow 720p for a 13″ solution at this price with that form factor. Issues remaining is how are the touchpad and the keyboard. If they are solid I’m sold. I’ve just gotten in the market for something like this that is super mobile.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      further consideration that is a BS resolution. I’m sad because I was pretty excited for this product.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        If you’re going to start disagreeing your own posts, shouldn’t you at least give yourself a thumbs-down too?

        Oh, right, you can’t. Want me to do it for you?

        EDIT: there ya go, buddy!

          • kamikaziechameleon
          • 8 years ago

          please!

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      Ok looking at the pre-release reviews this things screen isn’t the real issue, apparently it has absolutely the worst battery life of all the ultra portables, and no SD card slot, lol. WOW. The reviews don’t even talk about the screen in a negative light they say lots of nice things about it actually, apparently the build on it is great and its very bright and solid… blah blah blah,

      4 hrs of music play back with the screen off and wifi on, that is not good at all!

    • Hattig
    • 8 years ago

    FFS my 11.6″ netbook is 1366×768, there’s no excuse for 720p in a 13″ system, never mind one purporting to be high-end rather than a netbook.

      • Mourmain
      • 8 years ago

      My two-year old 10.1″ netbook is 1366×768. I refuse to consider any laptop with that resolution as anything other than a netbook.

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        ^^ This. This, this, this…

        If they offered a 1600×900 screen – even as an extra-cost option – and at least offered an 8 GByte version, I’d probably jump on it.

        I really hope that vendors using Trinity offer more attractive configurations.

    • drfish
    • 8 years ago

    So close.

    • vargis14
    • 8 years ago

    It looks great.Until i get to the screen.But people will still buy it,most don’t know any better.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      “It looks great.Until i get to the screen.But people will still buy it,most people don’t care”

      there, fixed that for you.

        • cygnus1
        • 8 years ago

        sad, but true

        • mattthemuppet
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t care about the resolution of my laptop display. It works, I can read stuff on it, viewing angles are reasonable. I wouldn’t complain about a higher resolution, just as I wouldn’t complain about a faster CPU or larger SSD, but it’s not something I’ll lose sleep over not having.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    *starts reading article*
    Price… tick
    Materials… tick
    Thickness… tick
    SSD… tick
    Battery… tick
    Connectivity… tick
    Resolution… OH HELL NOES!

      • entropy13
      • 8 years ago

      With Samsung having a 10″ tablet with a 1920×1080 resolution recently launched, maybe that’s a sign of good things to come in <some word>books.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      [b<]ULTRA[/b<] low screen resolution! Windows7 complains about 720p, saying that some items will not fit on the screen. I hate those stupid windows badges as much as the next guy and peel them off immediately. However, this thing [i<][b<]isn't even fit to wear a windows7 badge[/b<][/i<] if it gets a 1280x720 panel.

    • [SDG]Mantis
    • 8 years ago

    I really wish that more of the ultrabook systems would come with higher-resolution displays. I know that the screen is smaller than my 15″ laptop, but when you do things like work with spreadsheets the loss of resolution is annoying.

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