Yes, it's true: Dell's getting into the budget ultrabook and ultrabook-lookalike game today with the new Inspiron 14z and Inspiron 13z laptops. On the surface, they look much the same: Both have gotten a serious makeover since we originally praised their stylish budget designs, throwing out the XPS corners for a completely rounded, symmetrical frame. The Inspiron 13z is slightly slimmer and lighter at 3.81 pounds, with many flexible port covers for its several USB 3.0 sockets, HDMI 1.4a and Ethernet jacks, as well as a variety of colorful switchable lids. The Inspiron 14z has a little extra height and weight (4.12 pounds) to accomodate a DVD drive, optional Radeon HD 7570M graphics, and a 32GB mSATA drive for solid state caching, though you lose a pair of those USB 3.0 ports in the process.
To save costs, both come standard with a last-generation 1.4GHz Core i3 ULV processor (you can upgrade to Ivy Bridge) and 6GB of RAM, as well as 500GB of magnetic storage, Skullcandy speakers, Waves MaxxAudio processing, and 1366 x 768 resolution screens. We spent a little bit of time with each of them at a Dell event, and we're hoping the machines we saw were prototype builds: with a good bit of flex in their fairly inexpensive frames, slightly squishy keyboards and extremely low quality LCD screens (not to mention the weight), they wouldn't be our first choice for back-to-school. The trackpads do have physical mouse buttons, though, which could definitely be a plus, and the shiny brushed metal touchpad itself felt fairly good.
So, can you guess which one is the ultrabook? It's actually the thicker Inspiron 14z, thanks entirely to that 32GB mSATA SSD. You'll find it on sale June 19th in the US and Canada starting at $699.99, while the Inspiron 13z will arrive the same day for $599.99 and up. See some of our hands-on pictures in the gallery above.