Dell's first ultrabook, XPS 13, to ship next week

Rest of the world outside of US and Canada may get it in March

Dell will start shipping its first ultrabook, the XPS 13, in the US and Canada starting next week.

The XPS 13 has a 13-inch Gorilla Glass screen and belongs to a new category of thin and light laptops that Intel has termed ultrabooks. The XPS 13 comes with Intel's Core processors based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.

The ultrabook is priced starting at $US999 with a Core i5 processor, a Dell spokesperson said. The XPS 13 will become available elsewhere later in March.

The ultrabook has a thin design much like Apple's MacBook Air and Dell said that the XPS 13 is packed in an 11-inch frame, which will help save some desk space. It weighs 2.99 pounds (1.35 kilograms) and measures 0.2 inches (6 mm) thick. It can run up to eight hours on a battery charge. The XPS 13 also supports up to 256GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage and 4GB of RAM.

Ultrabooks are an effort by Intel to redefine laptops, which are losing favor to tablets. Dell joins Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Toshiba and Asus as ultrabook vendors. The competition for XPS 13 includes HP's Folio 13 and Spectre.

Some XPS 13 features include Smart Connect technology, which keeps the laptop connected to the Internet in sleep mode so email and social network feeds can be updated. That feature is also available on other ultrabooks.

The XPS 13 starting price could be an issue. Buyers have frowned on ultrabooks exceeding $800, which are priced partly because of the high price of components. Intel has said it will bring down the price of ultrabooks to about $699 by the end of the year.

Intel next quarter will introduce new Core processors based on the upcoming Ivy Bridge microprocessor, which will bring better graphics and performance to ultrabooks. AMD has said that it will counter Intel's ultrabook push by offering processors for thin laptops that will be priced starting at $500.

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