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
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