Dell refresh of XPS 13 arrives with Apple in its sights

Dell started selling the refresh of its svelte MacBook Air rival: the XPS 13 with a touch screen. Dell also began selling another potential Air challenger: the XPS 11.

Dell XPS 13 is a worthy MacBook Air competitor -- now with a 1,920x1,080 touch screen option.
Dell XPS 13 is a worthy MacBook Air competitor -- now with a 1,920x1,080 touch screen option. Dell

Dell has begun selling the refresh of a strong rival to Apple's MacBook Air, the XPS 13. It has also launched the super-svelte XPS 11 -- another Air-esque design -- and the Ubuntu version of the XPS 13.

The updated model sports a "Haswell" fourth-generation Core processor -- the power-efficient U series variety -- and comes for the first time with a touch screen option.

Specs for the $1,300 XPS 13 include 8GB of RAM, a 1,920x1,080 resolution 13.3-inch touch display, Intel HD 4400 graphics, Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 + Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, a Mini DisplayPort, an mSATA 128GB solid-state drive, and Windows 8.1.

The 3-pounder's chassis (which ranges from 0.7 to 0.2 inches in thickness) uses machined aluminum and a carbon fiber composite base. The display is edge-to-edge with Corning Gorilla Glass.

By comparison, the popular Haswell-based 13-inch MacBook Air has a lower-resolution 1,440x900 screen backed by Intel HD 5000 graphics, with no touch option. The Air starts at $1,099. If you opt for a non-touch display with the XPS 13, it starts at $1,000.

Dell also refreshed the XPS 13 Developer Edition for Ubuntu with a Haswell-based touch screen model, replacing the existing XPS 13.

Finally, Dell began selling one of its most innovative designs, the 2.5-pound, 0.6-inch thick XPS 11, a 2-in-1 hybrid laptop.

It starts at $999 with a 2,560x1,440 11.6-inch touch screen -- that's 253 pixels per inch for those keeping track -- a Haswell Core i3 4020Y processor (Intel's most power-efficient mainstream processor), HD 4200 graphics, 4GB of RAM, an 80GB mSATA solid-state drive, and Windows 8.1.

Up that to a 128GB SSD and a Core i5 4210Y processor and it's $1,200.

The XPS 11 has an eye-popping 2,560x1,440 11.6-inch screen, making it one of the highest resolution laptops on the market. And it's one of the thinnest too, at 0.6 inches.
The XPS 11 has an eye-popping 2,560x1,440 11.6-inch screen, making it one of the highest resolution laptops on the market. And it's one of the thinnest too, at 0.6 inches. Dell
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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