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Hands On: Dell's first UltraBook - the XPS 13

Tom Morgan
11 Jan 2012
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We take a close look at Dell's first Ultrabook, the XPS 13

Dell has finally revealed its take on Intel's UltraBook platform at CES in Las Vegas - weighing less than 1.4kg and as thin as 6mm at its tapered point, the XPS 13 is about as sleek and stylish as they come, and we were lucky enough to have a hands-on with it before it appeared on the show floor today.

Slotting into Dell's existing High-end XPS line-up, the XPS 13 uses the same brushed metal alloy chassis as its too larger brothers, but uses tough carbon fibre to add rigidity to the main chassis. Add to that some smooth curves and a brilliantly minimalist design, and you've got one of the best looking UltraBooks we've seen so far.

Dell XPS 13

As its name would suggest, the XPS 13 has a 13.3in widescreen LCD display - it uses Dell's WLED backlighting to create more vivid colours, and has a 1,366x768 resolution protected by ultra-tough gorilla glass. Unlike other 13in laptops, however, Dell has managed to squeeze the screen into a chassis the size of most 12in machines, creating a much more compact system - this is several centimeters less than its rivals, which could be enough to make the XPS 13 the ideal companion for frequent travelers.

Dell XPS 13

Unfortunately, this has left little room for extra connectivity - two USB ports, a combined 3.5mm audio jack and a mini DisplayPort video output are all you get. A Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor is included in the box, and one of the USB ports supports the faster USB3 standard, but there's no room for extra ports such as Ethernet.

Dell XPS 13

Thankfully, there's still room for a full-size backlit keyboard, which is made of Chiclet-style keys that are comfortable to type on thanks to their responsive, bouncy actions. A glass touchpad is perhaps the only throwback to the laptop that kicked off the UltraBook revolution - the MacBook Air - but it works incredibly well, recognising our inputs without the twitchiness we've come to expect from integrated touchpads.

Dell XPS 13

The XPS 13 will be available to buy through Dell's website in Mid-March, in a range of different hardware specifications, including Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, and 128 or 256gb SSDs. Dell also promises an eight hour battery life, although we weren't able to test this claim during our brief hands-on.

As always, we'll be taking a closer look a little closer to the launch date, but from what we've seen so far, there are very few other ultrabooks out there that are quite so refined and stylish. We'll know for sure a little later in the year.