Dell Challenges MacBook Pro With UltraThin Laptop

The XPS 14z, Dell's new flagship laptop, measures less than one-inch thick and boasts a 14-inch display in a 13-inch frame--putting it in the same league as Apple's MacBook Pro.
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Dell on Tuesday launched a new flagship for its high-end line of business/consumer hybrid laptops-a slick, sub-one inch thick entry that the company is pushing as a rival to Apple's sleek MacBook Pro line of portables.

The Dell XPS 14z packs plenty of power in a light, stylish package. It boasts a 2nd generation Intel Core i5 processor or optional Core i7 Dual Core; it can handle up to 8 GB of DDR3 memory at 1,333Mhz, and it is compatible with external graphics cards. The standard OS is Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium edition.

Dell's hope is that business users and consumers who like to be on tech's leading edge will find the XPS 14z as aesthetically pleasing as any MacBook and as powerful as the heavier, shoulder-dislocating systems from Lenovo or HP.

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"The XPS 14z delivers what professionals want--raw power paired with a stunning, sophisticated design that signals 'I've arrived,'" said Steve Felice, president of Dell's Consumer and Small/Medium Business group, in a statement.

"The XPS 14z is specifically engineered to help our customers do more in their personal and professional lives--and it advances our industry-leading vision for thin-and-powerful solutions that deliver performance without compromise," said Felice.

The kicker: The XPS 14z accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of delivering a 14-inch screen in a 13-inch frame, thanks to the unit's overall convex shape and edge-to-edge, borderless display. There's also some other impressive specs, including a maximum storage capacity of 750 GB, a 1.3-MP Webcam, and a backlit, spill-resistant keyboard. Dell rates battery life at up to six hours, 42 minutes.

With prices starting at $999 and likely ranging up to $1,500 or more depending on the choice of processor and other options, Dell is clearing aiming the XPS 14z at consumers and business pros who are willing to pay a premium for form as well as function. It's a market segment that often opts for Apple's line of glassy MacBooks.

Can Dell, known mostly as a builder of reliable but hardly distinct PCs and laptops, compete for computing's smart set?

It's got a shot. The XPS 14z, like Apple's latest line of MacBook Pro machines, checks in at less than one inch thick. And although it doesn't pack quite as much horsepower as Apple's offering--the MacBook Pro line uses Intel's quad-core line of chips while Dell maxes out with the dual-core version--the XPS 14z's $999 starter price handily beats the $1,199 sticker on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro and, even more so, the $1,799 tag on the 15-inch version.

Of course, Dell lacks Apple's cachet in the high-end of the market. Apple will tell you that you can't put a price on that. With the XPS 14z, available Nov. 1, Dell begs to differ.