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Dell's inspiring new Inspirons

new laptops are upgraded versions of Dell's existing workhorse models

The new laptops Dell is announcing today have already been leaked, discussed extensively online, and even confirmed by Dell, but today's official launch event is still worth a mention.

Dell's colorful new 14-, 15- and 17-inch laptops. Dell

Unveiled on a fashion-show-like runway at Macy's in Herald Square, the new laptops are basically upgraded versions of Dell's existing workhorse 1505 and 1705 models, now with Intel's new Centrino Duo platform, 802.11n support, and a fairly radical (for Dell) new design. Also new to the party is a 14-inch laptop (our new preferred size for mainstream users) known as the Inspiron 1420, and the hot-to-trot XPS m1330, an upscale, superthin 13-inch model. All are available to order starting today.

We'll have photos and video of the New York launch event later today, but for now, let's take a peek at the actual systems.

Dell Inspiron 1520/1521
Replacing the popular E1505, the new 1520 adds Intel's Santa Rosa platform to the mix, with an Intel 965 chipset, up to a Core 2 Duo T7500 CPU, 802.11n support, and optional Blu-ray drives and EV-DO. The 1521 model uses AMD processors instead, and both come in your choice of colors, from Midnight Blue to Bubblegum Pink. The 1520 starts at $848, the 1521 at $749.

Dell Inspiron 1720/1721
A sequel to the E1705, which we admired as a highly configurable desktop replacement, the new 1720 offers the same upgraded Intel Centrino Duo parts as the 1520, as well as the optional Blu-ray drive and EV-DO, plus a Nvidia GeForce Go 8600 graphics chip. Dual hard drives and resolutions up to 1920x1200 are also available. The 1721 differs in its (you guessed it) AMD CPUs, and the same rainbow of color options is available. The 1720 starts at $999, the 1721 at $899.

Dell Inspiron 1420
Honestly, 15-inch laptops seem so bulky and dated now, it's not surprising that people are flocking to 14-inch models instead for mainstream, middle-of-the-road use. The new Inspiron 1420 has the same high-end CPUs and video card options as the 15-inch models, but in a smaller--and we think more attractive--package. The 1420 starts at $799.

The XPS m1330

Dell XPS m1330
The flagship of Dell's new laptop line, the 13-inch XPS m1330 is the first Dell laptop we've seen where design clearly came first. It's among the thinnest and lightest 13-inch systems we've ever seen, but offers pretty much the same powerful CPU, graphics, and networking options as the larger 14- and 15-inch models, plus an LED backlit display. The XPS m1330 starts at $1,299. Check out our full Inspiron review.