Since we started introducing Ivy Bridge-based machines, I've been getting pinged by several people like @Devon12, ErikSchoof and Prof.Dre and elsewhere like the awesome group of folks on this long XPS thread on NotebookReview.com have asked  when our top of the line XPS laptops would be available with Ivy Bridge. I can finally answer that question—customers in the United States can order our XPS 14 and XPS 15 laptops beginning later today. They are also available for order in several countries around the world. Here in the United States, the XPS 14 starts at $1,099 and the XPS 15 starts at $1,299.

For those of you who are familiar with our award-winning XPS 13 Ultrabook, you already have a good idea of what to expect from both of these new XPS machines. We focused on using high-end materials like machined aluminum and silicone to create systems that feel sleek yet solid. I’ve been here at Dell almost 17 years, and in my opinion, these systems are the best laptops we’ve ever made. I also believe with the mix of performance, features, portability and battery life, these XPS laptops can compete with any other laptops currently available.

For the XPS 14, we focused on extended all-day battery life and extra levels of connectivity—both key features for customers who spend a lot of time on the road. We designed the XPS 15 for content creators and for customers who want an uncompromising multimedia experience.

I got to kick the tires on both of these new XPS machines. In that short period, it was easy to see these laptops pack a lot of performance and functionality into a small package. Things that stood out to me were the brilliant edge-to-edge displays, the solid build quality throughout and desktop-like performance. In terms of build quality, both machines use materials like anodized machined aluminum in places where extra support is needed, silicone at the laptop base to keep it cool and light, and Corning Gorilla Glass to reinforce the edge-to-edge displays. For the palm rests, we use magnesium alloy with soft touch paint for a smooth yet solid rubberized feel.

Both machines have bright, sharp edge-to-edge displays, support third-generation i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors from Intel, USB 3.0 ports, mini DisplayPort and HDMI Out ports to connect to external displays, 3-in-1 media card readers, great sound quality enhanced with Waves MAXX Audio 4, backlit chiclet keyboards, responsive multi-gesture trackpads, and integrated HD webcams perfect for Skype video chats or Google+ Hangouts. Both the XPS 14 and the XPS 15 support SSD drives and traditional 2.5" hard drives. That means you can have all the speed benefits of SSD drives with the extra storage capability that comes with traditional hard drives. The configs that include SSD drives also include Intel Responsiveness technologies that Bill blogged about (see previous link).

Dell XPS 14 - Ethernet jack close-upOne other nice touch on both systems is the custom Ethernet port. Both are too thin to include a full Ethernet jack, so our design teams made a hinged metal bottom that expands to let you insert a standard Ethernet cable without requiring a separate adapter cable. This is handy when you are in a hotel that offers broadband via Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi.

See close-up shot of the Ethernet jack on the left. The Ethernet jack is between the AC power connector and the HDMI port (click on the image to see a larger version of it). Speaking of images, you can see large versions of all these and more on the XPS 14 and XPS 15 Laptop album on Dell's Google+ page. 

XPS 14: Power, portability and up to 11-hour battery life

Dell XPS 14 laptop back to back

Dell XPS 14 laptop – click on the image above to see a larger version

The XPS 14 is less than an inch thin (0.81 inches or 20.7mm) and starts at just 4.6 pounds (or 2.1kg). When we asked customers what they wanted in a 14-inch laptop, it was pretty clear that great performance high on the list. Even more important though, many customers made it clear that battery life is critical. That’s why our product team decided early on in the development cycle, to remove the optical drive so we could maximize battery life. The end result? The XPS 14 delivers up to 11 hours of battery life[1] with an i7 processor, a 512GB SSD drive and the 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 630m discrete graphics card. On a side note, if you order a configuration with an SSD drive, the XPS 14 is an Ultrabook.

Like the XPS 13 before it, the XPS 14 features an edge-to-edge display protected with Corning Gorilla Glass reinforced with a machined aluminum back. The edge-to-edge display allows us to fit a 14-inch display in a more compact system. This brilliant 1600x900 HD display is rated at 400 nits (a measure of screen brightness capability) and looks great in any environment.

With third-generation Core i5 and i7 processor support and up to 8GB of RAM, performance on the XPS 14 is rock solid. The base model comes standard with Intel’s integrated HD 4000 graphics, but those of you who want more graphics horsepower can opt for the NVIDIA GeForce GT 630m with 1GB GDDR5 memory. The NVIDIA discrete option also supports their Optimus technology to give you extra power when you need it, less when you don’t. The standard XPS 14 models come equipped with Intel’s 6235 wireless adapter to enable 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi compatibility + Bluetooth 4.0.

XPS 14 with integrated Mobile Broadband - Click on the image to see a larger version

Customers who need more than just robust Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability can choose the XPS 14 featuring integrated mobile broadband technology (see above image). Those systems come equipped with Intel’s 6150 WiMax/ WiDi combo card and they also feature an attractive black leather back to help ensure there is no signal interference with the built-in antennas (see image below). Beyond that, there are options for integrated EVDO/ HSPA and HSPA+ connectivity. There’s also a pay-as-you go option called Dell NetReady mobile broadband service that we also offer on other laptops. Bottom line, customers who purchase the XPS 14 with integrated mobile broadband can connect in many places where a Wi-Fi network is not available.

Here’s a quick video overview of the new Dell XPS 14 laptop: