Dell adds two Ultrabooks: aluminium, Ivy Bridge, and up to 11 hours battery life

Dell XPS 14 (9420)

A few weeks ago, Intel officially launched its new and improvement processor range, and now manufacturers have been updating their machines for the occasion. Dell has just thrown two more machines out there, with the new XPS 14 and 15 boasting slick design, solid metal build, and performance improvements.

Joining Dell’s 13 inch XPS Ultrabook launched at CES this year, the 14 inch and 15 inch XPS throw in some solid technological enhancements that aim to bring the competition to other laptop makers, while still keeping a slim Ultrabook profile.

Dell’s 14 inch XPS for 2012 brings with it a third generation Intel Core processor with a choice of i5 or i7 chips, 4 or 8GB RAM, Nvidia GT630 graphics, WiFi 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, and either a 500GB hybrid drive with 32GB solid state tech or a massive 512GB solid-state drive.

The monitor is also a notable improvement on quite a few of the Ultrabooks we’re seeing, offering a 400nit 14 inch 900p screen, higher than HD with 1600×900 resolution. Battery life on the 14 inch is even rated for up to 11 hours, according to Dell’s representatives.

Dell’s second laptop introduced this week is the XPS 15, a model that brings the screen to 15 inches with Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) resolution, and even manages to increase the specs accordingly. The chips get a minor increase to slightly faster variants of the Ivy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors on offer in the XPS 14, as well as memory increased to a standard of 4GB with a maximum of 16GB, hard drive options supporting up to 1TB, Nvidia GeForce graphics, and an integrated optical drive.

With a different build and included optical drive, the battery isn’t rated for the same sort of performance, managing up to eight hours.

Both XPS models feature an aluminium casing with magnesium palm-rest and silicone base, as well as Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass protecting the high resolution screens. The keyboard on each features backlit keys, resistance to spills, and is complimented by a glass button touchpad with some element of gesture support. The thickness on each is reasonably slim, although not as thin as other Ultrabooks, with a 20.7mm width on the XPS 14 and 23.2mm on the XPS 15.


Dell's XPS 15 packs in a reasonably slim profile and an optical drive.

We had a quick play with the laptops last night at the launch and found that the build quality was excellent, offering a premium metal feel with a soft almost rubberised surface that doesn’t cut your wrists as you type. The keyboard felt good as we wrote a few test messages and while we expected a full metal body, the silicone base actually provides a little more grips than we’ve felt with the aluminium chassis of computers in the past.

While we didn’t have the machines long enough to test performance, the screen resolutions were a solid improvement on the lower resolution 14 and 15 inch screen we’ve seen on competitor’s computers in the past year.

Time will tell whether Dell has come across a couple of winners here, but if these sound like machines that grab your attention, you can find them available now from $1299 for the XPS 14 and $1599 for the XPS 15.