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By 8 March 2012 | Categories: news

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Dell showcased its new ultrabook, the XPS 13, at an event held in Hurlingham today, and gave TechSmart and other members of the media some hands on time with the new device.
 
The XPS 13 is expected to arrive in South African shops by the end of this month.
 
Gavin Slevin, Dell South Africa and developing countries retail manager, began by pointing out that ultrabooks offer much of the functionality afforded by a tablet (quick booting times, long battery life and portability) with the benefits of a notebook, namely high-end processors and a keyboard.
 
However, what quickly became apparent is that the XPS 13 has a few well thought out distinguishing features of its own.
 
The first of these is a carbon fibre base, which Slevin explained offers the benefit of being strong as well as not conducting heat. This should make for a cool experience when perching the ultrabook on one’s lap for extended periods; which we found to be quite comfortable due to the XPS 13’s 1.3 kg weight.  
 
Dell's new XPS 13 ultrabook is sleek, slender and undeniably attractive. 
 
Built to impress
 
Design wise, the aluminium and carbon fibre construction lends the XPS 13 a sleek and solid, even futuristic appearance, which we appreciated on Asus’ Zenbook and were no less impressed by on Dell’s new offering.
 
Additionally, despite the portability of a slightly larger than 11” chassis, the ultrabook still squeezes in a 13.3” edge to edge display, coated in second generation Gorilla Glass (much like the Lenovo X1) and offering up a brightness of 300-nit  and a 720p resolution of 1366 x 768.
 
Another feature of the new ultrabook which we appreciated was the full size, backlit chiclet keyboard which, in our preliminary hands-on, felt promisingly comfortable to type on. This was accompanied by a glass integrated button touchpad with multi-gesture support.
 
As to the innards of the devices, users can expect a choice between Intel Core i5 2467M and i7 2637M processors, along with 4 GB of memory, and either a 128 GB or 256 GB solid state drive.
 
Apparently the XPS 13 boots up in five seconds, while the built-in battery offers almost nine hours of working life. A further feature is SMART Connect, which enables the ultrabook to stay up to date with email, Facebook and Twitter while it is in sleep mode, so long as it is connected.
 
The ultrabook offers USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. 
 
Business on the brain
 
While the XPS 13 is undeniably a consumer device, Slevin elaborated that it is also firmly targeted at enterprise customers as well.
 
The latter can take advantage of enterprise-friendly features which are built into the XPS 13, such as standard Trusted Platform Module for BitLocker Data Encryption, optional ProSupport after-sales service and Configuration Services such as custom imaging and asset tagging.
 
“The XPS 13 is the culmination of an extensive design and development process focused on creating the best ultrabook on the planet. It is specifically engineered to help both our consumers and commercial customers be more productive and connected in every way possible,” said Slevin.
 
To the point
 
Our first impressions of the ultrabook were resoundingly positive. With just a preliminary glance, most if not all the obvious requirements seem to have been met. A solid build, beautiful design, comfortable – and backlit – keyboard, sharp screen and portable and lightweight size and weight respectively, were some of the main standouts.
 
The XPS 13 will apparently be available in shops before the end of the March, and will range in price between R13 000 and R18 000 depending on the configuration. Hopefully, we will spend more time with the diminutive beauty and render a full review in the near future.
 

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