Dell Aims for Small, Thin With XPS 13 Laptop, Venue 8 Tablet at CES

Company officials showed off a range of new and enhanced systems, including the 13-inch XPS 13 laptop and thin Venue 8 7000 Series tablet.

Dell laptop

Michael Dell for more than a year has been adamant that PCs will continue to be central to his company's strategy going forward, despite declines in PCs worldwide since 2011.

Throughout his bid in 2013 to take his namesake company private, Michael Dell said the company would continue investing in PCs. During the Dell World 2014 event in November, the CEO mocked rival Hewlett-Packard's decision to split in two, with one of those new companies selling PCs and printers.

"To be in the end-to-end infrastructure business, you have to have both ends, or else it's the end," he said during his keynote address.

At this week's 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Dell officials showed exactly how important the PC is, unveiling almost a dozen new and enhanced systems and tablets—touching on consumer, business and gaming—as well as monitors that can be used with some of them.

"The new products announced today raise the bar in every category, with style, substance and software solutions customers can only get from Dell," Sam Burd, vice president of the company's Client Solutions Product Group, said in a statement.

Getting the most attention were the XPS 13, which company officials called the smallest 13-inch laptop on the market, and the Venue 8 7000 Series tablet, which they said is the world's thinnest tablet. At the same time, Dell also introduced updates to its mainstream Inspiron notebooks and showed off new 15- and 17-inch laptops from Alienware for gamers.

For Dell, size and thinness were important, though the inclusion of such technologies as Intel's RealSense 3D cameras and 4K display capabilities showed the company's drive to increase its presence in the highly competitive PC market, according to Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy.

"The XPS 13 is without a doubt one of the most innovative products to come out of Dell in recent memory and it offers a glimpse into what the 'New Dell' has been up to over the past year since they've gone private and their 2013 strategy change," Moorhead wrote in a column on "The company is really pushing the envelope of what is possible with current technologies and is managing to do so with very high quality materials and build quality, enabling them to compete with the likes of Apple for premium consumer products."

The XPS 13 features a virtually edgeless infinity display, which enables Dell to put a 13-inch notebook into an 11-inch chassis. It also offers a battery life that hits up to 15 hours and weighs 2.6 pounds, thanks in large part to the use of Intel's new 14-nanometer 5th Generation Core "Broadwell" chips and solid-state drives (SSDs) from 128GB to 512GB. The system, which is available now starting at $799.99, runs Windows 8.1 and includes an optional UltraSharp Quad HD+ infinity display.

Dell also upgraded its XPS 15 notebook with an UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD touch screen.

In his column, Moorhead wrote that "marketing will be exceptionally important for the XPS 13. It's one thing to have a great product, but it's another thing to market it accordingly. Just ask Apple. They have both, something few companies have."

The Venue 8 7000 Series tablet, which was first shown off at the Intel Developer Forum 2014 in September, comes in at 6mm thick and is powered by Intel's Atom Z3500 processor. It also includes Intel's RealSense camera technology, which captures depth in a photo and gives users greater freedom in editing their photos. It's available now starting at $399.99.

Along with those products, Dell introduced the Alienware 15 and 17 laptops, which not only leverage Nvidia's GTX 980m graphics but also include the option of running quad-core Core i7 chips from Intel. The systems are 20 percent thinner than previous models, according to Dell officials.

In the Inspiron lineup, the new Inspiron 15 7000 Series laptop is powered by the latest Intel Core chips and offers an optional 4K Ultra HD touch display, while the Inspiron 15 5000 Series laptop and Inspiron 23 all-in-one desktop include the RealSense technology.

Dell also is planning to launch a special edition Inspiron 13 7000 Series two-in-one in March. The special edition will include curved edges, a metal palm rest and diamond-cut touch pad. The 360-degree hinge design enables customers to change the system between four modes: laptop, tent, easel and tablet.