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Dell to take another shot at MacBook Air

Dell will give the ultra-sleek laptop category another try after canceling its first attempt to compete with Apple's MacBook Air. Will Dell persist this time?

Dell is going to go after Apple's MacBook Air again, part of its broader strategy to take on the entire MacBook line.

Dell's 2009 answer to the MacBook Air, the Adamo.  It was discontinued earlier this year.
Dell's 2009 answer to the MacBook Air, the Adamo. It was discontinued earlier this year. Dell

The new ultraslim laptop could come around the CES time frame, according to industry sources familiar with Dell's plans.

There was also a separate report this week that said Dell is prepping an Ultrabook--the Windows camp answer to the MacBook Air. Whether the rumored Ultrabook is the same laptop that Dell sources are referring to is unclear.

Whatever the case, it is all part of a broader Dell push to take on the MacBook line. This week, the Round Rock, Texas-based company announced the XPS 14z, aimed squarely at the 13-inch MacBook Pro. (Dell claims its bezel-less display design makes it close to a 13-inch MacBook Pro in size.) And, in May, Dell brought out the XPS 15z that targets the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

And if Dell waits until CES 2012 to announce a super-svelte laptop, it would be exactly three years after it announced the Adamo, which went head to head with the MacBook Air.

That timing would also coincide with Intel's announcement of its next-generation processor dubbed Ivy Bridge--expected to drive Ultrabook sales from the spring of 2012. Ivy Bridge supports USB 3.0, Microsoft's DirectX 11 multimedia technology, and packs more powerful graphics silicon.

So, will Dell stick with an ultrathin design this time? It killed the Adamo earlier this year due to lackluster demand. But Dell would be well advised to study the MacBook Air's history. The Air--announced in January 2008--did not sell well for more than two years--like the Adamo. But Apple persisted and perfected the design (Dell did not). Now it is one of Apple's top selling models.