While Dell is one of the last vendors to actually announce an entry in Intel’s ultrabook category, their announcement is a bit of a doozy, and it arrives alongside a mild restructuring and simplification of Dell’s notebook lines.

We’ll start with the most basic information: Dell is stripping their notebook lines down to the essentials: XPS, Inspiron, Alienware, and Vostro. Latitude’s future is nebulous, but the Vostro brand has served Dell well. Each of these remaining lines is clearly cut from the others: Inspiron remains Dell’s budget-oriented consumer brand, while the newly fortified XPS line will serve both upscale consumers and business users alike. Alienware continues to focus strictly on gamers, and Vostro remains the choice for enterprise users.

So what about XPS? Today Dell is launching their ultrabook, the XPS 13. Much like the XPS 14z was able to fit a 14” screen inside a 13” chassis, Dell has fit a 13” screen inside the XPS 13’s 12” chassis. The result is a notebook with a design that feels like it maximizes the space available to it, with a full-sized keyboard and a large screen with a small bezel. Some may complain about the 13” screen’s low 1366x768 resolution, but at that size the resolution is perfectly reasonable.

Details on the XPS 13 are a little thin (see what I did there?) but it’ll be running low voltage Intel Core i5 and i7 Sandy Bridge processors at launch complete with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and either a 128GB or 256GB SSD. Dell includes a backlit keyboard, Intel’s Rapid Start technology, and an enclosed 47Whr battery Dell claims is good for up to eight hours of running time. Finally, the starting weight is about three pounds on the dot, no doubt helped by the substantial amount of carbon fiber used in the construction. Dell elected to use aluminum for the frame but eschew it for the interior and bottom surfaces; carbon fiber allows the notebook to feel cooler to the touch and actually be used on your lap.

This is an ultrabook to watch out for. We had the opportunity to go hands on with it recently, and it’s remarkably comfortable, light, and enjoyable to use. It launches today, and we look forward to having one in house for review in the near future.

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  • jmunjr - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Does it still have a crap screen? IPS/PVA or dump it in the trash.
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    To heck with what type it is, the simple fact that its just another 1366x768 LCD rules it out. This res seriously needs to die in anything over 10 inches.
  • mevans336 - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    Exactly, 1366x768 is just too cramped, regardless of the quality of the display.
  • B3an - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    It's just getting embarrassing now that tablets with roughly 10 inch screens will soon have 1080p IPS displays, or even 2560x1xxx later this year and you still get 13 inch laptops with 1366x768 and TN panels.

    It could be argued that IPS isn't as important on laptops as the display will be facing you directly more often, but the colours are still SO much better. They still need atleast PVA. And as for 1366x768 it isn't even usable as far as i'm concerned. The vertical space is a joke.
  • B3an - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    BTW luckily i dont think we'll have to put up with this crap for much longer.

    When Windows 8 finally comes out there will be 1080p tablets that will surely have IPS displays. It's also pretty much a given that they will have USB and HDMI or DP, meaning they could also be connected to large monitors and tons of other other peripheral that Windows supports.
    You'll likely get designs that have keyboard docks too, basically turning the tablet in to a full blown ultrabook lookalike.
  • danchen - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    Exactly ! I roll my eyes whenever i see new notebooks being released still featuring this horrible 1366x768 crap. Unless they give a option to upgrade the screen resolution, I will never buy it.
  • tipoo - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    How many 13' laptops have IPS displays? Or laptops in general? And at 1000 dollars? The resolution is a bummer though, it looked like an attractive laptop with good bang for your buck.
  • Reikon - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - link

    "Some may complain about the 13” screen’s low 1366x768 resolution, but at that size the resolution is perfectly reasonable."

    No, it's not reasonable. I have a netbook with an 11.6" screen with the same resolution and I find it too low.

    The Thinkpad X220 has a 12.5" IPS screen option and the laptop is about $1000. Same crappy 1366x768 res though.
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Exactly... And what pisses me off about alot of Dell models, is that higher res isnt an option. You like 1366x768 res, fine, give me the option to pay more for better res.
  • Mitch89 - Sunday, January 15, 2012 - link

    It's disappointing because Dell used to be AWESOME in this regard. When I bought my 15.4" Inspiron 8600 I optioned the WSXGA 1680x1050 display, and it was great. Even better, you could option a WUXGA 1920x1200 display. That was 2003.

    Bring back the high res options! I'd love my 11" Air with a 1600x900 display (even though the current display isn't bad).

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