Dell XPS 14z unboxed

We take the wrappers off what Dell's calling the thinnest fully-featured laptop on the planet

Dell's luxury-oozing XPS brand re-surfaces once again to deliver the Windows 7 Home Premium-powered 14z – the smaller brother to the XPS 15z, in case you didn't get that. So, what's the skinny?

Particularly style conscious? Despite that clean, aluminium-coated design reminding us of a certain Apple-shaped machine, the 14z looks good enough to lick and continues Dell's focus on cramming good-looking, high-end design into a relatively affordable package. Not only will this bit of computing eye candy look good perched on your lap in Starbucks, but it feels great to touch – and the construction feels like it will be more than capable of taking a few knocks.

With its 23mm thick chassis, the 14z has certainly been designed for a life on the move. Yes, it's not as skinny as the recent smattering of Ultrabooks like Asus' UX21 or its MacBook Pro rival, but it hardly needs to go on a diet, does it? Plus Dell's managed to squeeze a decent spec into a relatively slender profile.

It manages to pass the one-handed lid-lift without rocking back, to reveal its 14in screen. So it's satisfyingly compact, but interestingly, the chassis is more akin to the 13in MacBook Pro – its obvious rival. It's all thanks to that super-slim bezel, which practically hogs all the lid space.

Connectivity runs along the back in order to prevent portly sides – which could prove fiddly. You're treated to HDMI, DisplayPort, two USB ports – one of which is USB 3.0 – and an ethernet port. It feels like Dell could have squeezed in more – it's not like there isn't any room.

There's a DVD+/-RW drive on the right-hand side, next to a battery meter, while an SD card slot, mic and headphone jack sit on the left. The cooling vents on the left, rear and underside have also been cut from the aluminium body, complementing the design – unlike those plastic-y eyesores found on some laptops.

The backlit chiclet keyboard looks good, even if the typeface is a little 80s. The large trackpad is easy to scroll around on, too, while the two mouse buttons are reassuringly deep and responsive. Speaker grills sit on either side, throwing up a nice diagonal lattice design. Very retro.

That Intel Core i5 sticker tells us that the 14z's dual-core performance will be whippet-quick. Core i7 is also available for an even more turbocharged experience.

So, what you're looking at here is a laptop you could smugly slide out of your bag, with the kind of innards that will keep you happy in the performance department and a price tag that isn't going to have you dining on Super Noodles for a month. We're loving that tightly coiled hinge, by the way.

If you want the full spec-low-down, release and price details, we can tell you what you want to know.

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