Dell XPS 15z Laptop, with Intel Core i7, i5 Chips, Starts at $999

Dell's XPS 15z laptop, geared toward consumers and small businesses and sporting Intel Core i5 and i7 chips, is the thinnest 15-inch notebook on the planet, according to the PC maker.

Dell has launched what the company is calling the thinnest 15-inch notebook on the planet-the XPS 15z laptop. It's the start, the PC maker said in a May 24 announcement, of what will be a new series of thin and powerful Inspiron- and XPS-branded notebooks arriving later this year.

The 15z runs second-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium and features an optional 15.6-inch Full HD display-which has nearly twice the HD resolution of a standard HD display-an optimized touchpad, and a backlit and chicklet-style keyboard. Graphics options include the Nvidia GeForce GT 525M with 1GB or 2GB of graphics memory, Nvidia 3DTV Play capabilities and Nvidia Optimus technology, which switches the notebook into power-saving mode when faced with lighter workloads, to extend battery life up to eight hours.

There's a slot-loading DVD +/- RW drive, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0, up to 8GB of DDR3 (double data rate 3) 1,333MHz memory, up to 750GB of hard disk storage and a 9-in-1 media card reader. For video calls and conferencing, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam is paired with dual-array microphones and stereo speakers.

On the judge-a-notebook-by-its-cover front, it's made of aluminum with a magnesium-alloy enclosure. Dell adds: "At first glance, the XPS 15z design, with its clean aluminum design, appears like it floats above the surface, and the polished, brushed finishes with sophisticated accents add to a luxurious appearance."

"The XPS 15z provides a glimpse into a series of visually stunning and powerful systems coming soon to our consumer and small-to-medium-business product portfolio," Steve Felice, president of Dell's Consumer and Small/Medium Business group, said in a statement. "We're committed to introducing next-generation products that help people pursue their personal and professional passions."

The XPS 15z measures 15.15 by 10.25 by 0.97 inches and starts at a weight of 5.54 pounds.

Available as of May 24 from Dell online stores, pricing begins at $999.

During its fiscal 2012 first quarter, Dell announced May 17 that it earned a net income of $945 million on revenue of $15 billion, which put it ahead of industry estimates.

Focusing heavily on the enterprise side of the business, executives shared that the company is succeeding in its plan to accelerate investments in enterprise solutions and services and to improve the execution of core client businesses. This year, it plans to invest $1 billion in cloud-computing capabilities, as well as to add more engineering, development and solutions-based sales resources.

"We have built an $18 billion enterprise solutions and services business with exciting growth potential, and our execution in the core client business continues to be very good," Dell CFO Brian Gladden said in a statement. "We are positioned to continue delivering value to our customers and investors."

Dell's consumer business was down 7 percent year-over-year, but it says it has benefited from a simplified brand structure that includes an improved line of Inspiron, relaunched XPS and Alienware devices.

Competitor Lenovo is also thinking along thin-and-light lines. On May 16, it introduced its thinnest ThinkPad enterprise notebook to date, the ThinkPad X1. Weighing 3.7 pounds and featuring a 10-inch display, Lenovo executives insisted, introducing the X1, that "Just because it's a business device, doesn't mean it has to be boring.