Dell Launches Windows 8-Ready Ultrabooks

XPS 14 and XPS 15 pack sufficient punch, but will they satisfy home and business users who consider touch capability a must?
10 Windows Ultrabooks: Not Just For SMBs
10 Windows Ultrabooks: Not Just For SMBs
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Dell on Monday formally launched a pair of Ultrabook laptops with more than enough performance to handle Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 operating system. But with Microsoft touting Win8's touch capabilities, the question is how many users will continue to want systems that limit them to keyboard, mouse, or touchpad interaction?

The XPS 14 and XPS 15 both offer stylish, aluminum casing, Corning Gorilla Glass to the edges, and third-generation Intel Core chip technologies. Dell is aiming the former at road warriors who value portability over heavy-duty graphics and data crunching capabilities. The latter, at almost six pounds, is more of a desktop replacement.

"The XPS 14 and 15 laptops offer powerful performance, thoughtful design, and superb user experience, along with enterprise-friendly features so you can use them for work and play,"' said Sam Burd, president of Dell's personal computing group, in a statement.

The enterprise features Burd referred to include Dell ProSupport, a business-only offering that includes remote and onsite technical support and access to enterprise specialists, Trusted Platform Module security compatibility, and configuration services for customizing BIOS settings, asset tagging, and enterprise image pre-loading.

[ Considering a Windows 8 ARM tablet? See Windows 8 ARM Tablets: 8 Must-Know Facts. ]

The systems are preloaded with Windows 7, but are fully upgradeable to Windows 8.

Beyond the work environment, both the XPS 14 and XPS 15 are loaded with features for home and social use, such as midrange gaming and video consumption. Both systems offer Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor options at varying speeds, as well as discrete, Nvidia GPU options.

The XPS 14, which starts at $1,099, weighs in at 4.6 pounds, contains a 500-GB solid-state drive, and promises 11 hours of battery life, according to Dell. Its 14-inch display delivers 1,600 x 900 resolution. The heftier XPS 15 is priced at $1,299 and up. Options include an Intel Core i7 chip running at 3.1 GHz, storage up to 1 TB, and mobile broadband capability.

What both systems lack is touch capability. That shouldn't be a problem for office use, but consumers are increasingly accustomed to using touch to access computing resources, whether on their phones, iPads, or ATMs and other kiosks. Recognizing this, Microsoft built Windows 8 with touch in mind. Its Metro interface features Live Tiles that can bring up apps, messaging, and social networking services with a single touch.

Metro also supports mouse and keyboard interaction, and Windows 8, at least the full version, will also run the classic Windows desktop. But Dell and other PC makers will soon find out whether consumers and even road warriors will be willing to shell out more than $1,000 for systems that only support what many now consider to be an old-school style of computing.

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