Dell puts Apple’s MacBook Air on notice at CES

At the Consumer Electronics Show, Dell is putting the revered MacBook Air to shame.

Dell rolled out its new XPS 13 laptop today, claiming it’s the most compact 13-inch laptop on the planet.  True or not, it’s definitely a contender for that title.

It’s only 0.6-inches at its thickest point and weighs in at 2.6 pounds. The aging 13-inch MBA is thicker and heavier, tipping the scales at just under three pounds.

But the icing on the cake is Dell’s new display (an option for the high-end model).   It’s touch (also missing on the Air) and has Quad HD+ resolution — that means a stunning 3,200x1,800 pixels.

The Air has a pedestrian 1,440x900 non-touch display.

And the XPS 13 also packs Intel’s latest silicon (also announced at CES), the 5th Generation Intel Core i5.  The Air uses Intel’s older 4th generation chips.

Dell is also promising better battery life than the Air’s already-stellar 12 hours (as rated by Apple). Dell claims the XPS 13 will get over 15 hours.

Pricing starts at $799.99 (also an Air-beating price, which starts at $999).

Dell isn’t the only American computer marker that Apple must fend off.  While Hewlett-Packard, America’s largest PC maker, didn’t make an announcement at CES, last month it announced the HP Elitebook Folio 1020.

The 12.5-inch Elitebook is even lighter – weighing in at 2.3 pounds —  than Dell’s XPS 13 and boasts a QHD 2,560x1,440 display.  

The Elitebook is also tough, adhering to MIL-STD-810G standards, allowing it to stand up against shock, humidity, extreme temperatures, and four-foot drops.

The Folio starts at $1,199.

But wait — Apple isn’t standing still.  An article posted on Apple enthusiast website “9to5Mac” on Tuesday, claims that Apple has a “radically new” design in the works for the MacBook.

Needless to say, the next MacBook is expected to be demonstrably thinner, with a Retina, or high-resolution display. It will also be more cutting-edge all around.

And reviewers will undoubtedly be slinging superlatives when the next MacBook makes its appearance, possibly putting Apple back on top.