Updated: Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Combines Performance and Style with Ultra-Portability #XPS13

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Updated: Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Combines Performance and Style with Ultra-Portability #XPS13

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Update 2: The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook is now available in the United States through www.Dell.com at Dell@ Store locations, Best Buy website online (not available in Best Buy stores just yet) at a starting price of $999 with an Intel Core i5 processor, 128GB SSD hard drive and 4GB memory. The XPS 13 will also be available in select geographies around the world in March 2012; and available in most Best Buys stores nationwide later as well. 

Please see Susan Beebe's blog post, "Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Available Now in the United States, More Countries Soon." Since this initial post, we've blogged about several XPS 13 topics. To see all XPS 13-related posts click on the #xps13 tag.

Update 1: Check out the live stream of Intel’s keynote at CES. Jeff Clarke, Dell's vice chairman of Global Operations and End User Computing, is on stage discussing our new XPS 13 Ultrabook

If you’ve been keeping up with CES news recently, it’s no secret that Ultrabooks are the hot topic. Ultrabooks are a specific category of thin, light, and powerful laptops. Today, Dell is officially entering the Ultrabook ring with the sleek and sturdy XPS 13, a harmonious combination of design, performance and mobility. XPS 13 pricing starts at $999 and customers in the US can reserve the laptop starting today--click on the image above to do so. Systems will be available in the US at the end of February through Dell.com and select retail stores nationwide. It will be available in select geographies around the world in March. See today's press release for more details.

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook - open left side view

  

The XPS 13 Ultrabook builds on Dell’s focus on making thin and powerful laptops (like the XPS 15z and the even smaller XPS 14z or the Vostro V131 and the Inspiron 14z). With the XPS 13, Dell’s goal was to blend the mobility and responsiveness of other devices you’re used to with the power and functionality of a full PC. We ended up with a sleek system that offers a brilliant 13.3-inch display in a form factor not much larger than competitive laptops with 11-inch displays.

Excellent Fit and Finish

The first thing I noticed about the XPS 13 is that it’s a beautiful machine. Our design teams put a lot of thought into materials, which results in well-balanced and optimized form and function. Durability was also a key criterion for the laptop. The lid is made of machined aluminum for increased rigidity and the base is composed of carbon fiber, which is as durable as aluminum but lighter (starting at 2.99 lbs) and cooler to the touch. Personally, I find that that the carbon fiber lends the XPS 13 a subtle grip-friendliness, which is handy for such a grab-and-go device. In addition to being light, the XPS 13 is razor-thin (less than three quarters of an inch at its thickest point), making it ultra-portable and easy to fit in a bag to carry around wherever you go.

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook - closed front view 

The XPS 13 Ultrabook has a very small footprint. We’ve packed a gorgeous frameless 13.3-inch 720p (1366x768) edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass display into a footprint similar to 11-inch products. Like I mentioned before, this means you experience a larger screen size compared to other 11” laptops in this class. Plus, the Gorilla Glass is bonded to the aluminum, so there is less flex and more durability. The display includes a built-in 1.3MP webcam with dual microphones, which is great for Skype video calls or Hangouts on Google+.

Besides durability, attention to detail was also key in the design process. The XPS 13 comes with a full-size, backlit chiclet keyboard to accommodate low-light situations and a large glass integrated button touchpad with multi-gesture support. After using the laptop for a few days, the keys felt solid and comfortable while making very little noise. The glass integrated button on the touchpad made gliding my fingers across the surface frictionless, which was particularly helpful when I used the multi-gesture functions. I also liked how smooth the interior felt when I rested my palms against it.

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook - open front view

High-end Performance 

Following suit of its larger XPS siblings, the XPS 13 was specifically designed for the work-hard-play-hard professional who demands style and mobility without trading off performance. The XPS 13 supports the second-generation ultra-low voltage Intel Core processors, either the i5 2467M or i7 2637M versions, 128 GB SSD or 256GB SSD drive, and 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz memory, so it can effectively multi-task and handle some pretty intensive computing tasks. The XPS 13 utilizes the integrated graphics Intel HD3000 controller, which means snappy performance on things beyond office productivity including HD video playback and encoding. The solid state drive (SSD) means faster boot times, faster application loads and faster load times for large files compared to a standard hard drive. Beyond that, since SSDs have no moving parts, they are also more shock resistant, which makes your data less vulnerable when you take the XPS 13 on the road.

Also, the battery life is impressive—in our labs, MobileMark 2007 results show that the XPS 13 equipped with a 6-cell battery offers up to 8 hours, 53 minutes battery life on the i5-2467M with 128GB SSD configuration. As far as ports, the XPS 13 has the following: (1) USB 3.0, (1) USB 2.0 with PowerShare, (1) mini Display-Port and (1) 3.5 mm audio jack.

If you’re a music buff, I’ll bet you’ll enjoy how this very compact machine can belt out tunes. The sound quality definitely caught me by surprise. The HD audio via Waves MaxxAudio 4 on the XPS 13 is fantastic. I cranked up some tunes to full volume within a fairly large conference room and was able to hear songs clearly when far away from the XPS 13. Since the speakers are placed on the bottom of the machine rather than along the interior sides, the XPS 13 generates notably deeper, richer sound compared to many other laptop speakers I’ve come across.

Always On, Always Updated

One of the main benefits that helps characterize the XPS 13 as an Ultrabook is the mobility experience it creates with its ‘always on, always updated’ capabilities. The XPS 13 is one of the first Ultrabooks to feature Intel Smart Connect Technology, which periodically wakes up your laptop while it’s in sleep mode to update web apps you have open (e.g. email, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Complementing this feature is the solid state drive with Intel Rapid Start technology that allows the XPS 13 to boot up and resume in seconds from a zero-power hibernation mode. Both of these technologies facilitate a seamless work flow experience, so you can step away from your machine without losing momentum.

For US customers only, the purchase of an XPS 13 will include one year of Accidental Damage Service and one year of theft protection with LoJack Theft Recovery Service as standard. Accidental Damage service protects against drops, spills and other accidents that may occur. LoJack Theft Recovery Service helps track, locate, lock down and recover a stolen system, and can even remotely delete sensitive data.

In addition to customer service options such as concierge and software support, business customers who purchase the XPS 13 can opt for business-class options like ProSupport, configuration services, asset tagging and BitLocker data encryption with the Windows 7 Trusted Platform Module.

If you’re looking for beauty and brains in a slim package, the XPS 13 will make an excellent nimble companion. The XPS 13 brings all the benefits of an Ultrabook, and in my experience, is incredibly mobile, surprisingly powerful and responsive.

We welcome your questions and comments in the comments section below or via @Dell on Twitter. You can also keep up with the discussion via the #xps13 hashtag.

Update 3: For those of you who own an XPS 13, for the next several weeks, we're looking for feedback on voice command Dragon Assistant beta software for the next few weeks. See more details in Lionel's Dragon Assistant software post.

Here’s a quick video of the XPS 13 highlights:

Also, here’s an unboxing video by Ask Rev if you want to see what you’re getting when you order an XPS 13 Ultrabook:

 

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Comments
  • is there any plan for dell to release new xps model in this year beside xps 13? like xps 16 and 18. thx

  • Prof.Dre: We'll work to keep you and others informed on new products here on Direct2Dell when we have more to talk about. For now, happy to answer questions you have about the XPS 13.

  • Will this have a TPM chip? I really need directaccess and a TPM chip will allow me to use this at work. Thanks!

  • Will there be an option to add more ram then the 4gb, such as 8gb?  Also will it support the Intel WiDi (HD wireless display technology)?

  • cuitguy: There won't be the option for more than 4gb of RAM, but the XPS 13 is WiDi capable.

  • jasonc1113: The XPS 13 will ship with a TPM chip except for in Russia and China.

  • Will it have an option of adding a 4G LTE SIM from Verizon?

  • Will there be an option for a higher resolution display?? The disappointment already started (again)... see comments at www.anandtech.com/.../dell-launches-xps-13-ultrabook

  • @Lionel, how long does it take to boot-up, and what about resume from sleep time -- in seconds?

    My current benchmark is a chromebook -- 8 secs to boot-up.

  • P.S. The competitors are taking over: www.anandtech.com/.../hp-announced-envy-14-spectre-ultrabook

  • @dhdeans... Will have to get my hands on one. Know the wake from sleep happens fast. It runs Windows 7 though, so I know the bootup will be longer than your 8 seconds. Will try it soon.

  • @WagD: Sorry to disappoint. Unfortunately, no plans to offer a higher resolution display option on the XPS 13. You are right about the HP, but it's a bigger system and it weighs almost a pound more.

    The focus on the XPS 13 was on compactness--it really is barely bigger than other 11-inch notebooks out there. To me, that resolution seems just about right for a 13.3-inch display. But I know it's a subjective thing...

    I'd recommend taking a look at one of these at Best Buy or other local retailer in the next couple of weeks to see what you think.

    Thanks for the feedback... I love hearing from passionate users like you.

  • The better SSD capacity on the 999 model is a great advantage over competitors.

  • @Conferencista: Thanks for the positive note! Hope you check it out in the coming weeks :).

  • @ArmchairQB2000: Unfortunately not. We're not supporting 4G LTE SIM cards in the XPS 13.