If you're looking to purchase a powerful, portable and attractive laptop, the $799 (£849, AU $1,799) Dell XPS 13 is a top contender. This notebook features a sleek design, lightweight chassis and a revolutionary display that makes it the smallest 13-inch Ultrabook in its class.
In terms of size, this little beast is actually closer to an 11-inch ultraportable, but it’s a powerhouse outfitted with an Intel Core i7 Skylake processor and a fast PCIe solid-state drive (SSD).
The XPS 13 won the title of “the best laptop and Ultrabook on the planet last year, and several worthy competitors have risen to challenge the claim. Lenovo has perfected its 2-in-1 laptop, the $1,199 (£1,449, AU $2,199) Lenovo Yoga 900, and equipped it with enough power to rival Dell’s champion. Likewise, Apple has given the $999 (£849, AU $1,549) 13-inch MacBook Air a fresh set of internals and an even longer 12 hours of battery life.
Any of these laptops would make for an excellent buy. However, the XPS’s innovative display and master class design differentiates it from what is an already-exceptional Ultrabook market.
The Dell XPS 13 truly is a revolutionary device, considering it packs a 13-inch screen into a much smaller frame. Both the top and bottom of the notebook are built from sheets of machined aluminum with a silver anodized finish, similar to the MacBook Air, in sheen and durability. The palm rest and keyboard deck are made with an exquisite carbon fiber composite that’s delightful to touch. The materials weave is visible, but Dell has coated the entire surface in a rubbery resin. Unlike some other laptops with plastic or metal, the XPS 13’s palm rest doesn’t heat up over time and wicks away moisture.
Firstly, in order to make the XPS 13 as small as it is, Dell relocated the webcam to the lower left edge of the bezel. From this position, the camera captures you face from the chin-up. Not only is the angle unflattering, your nose hairs will be in full view of your virtual correspondents, and you’ll terrify them with your massive hand if you try typing during the call.
Secondly, because the screen goes all the way to the top edges of the device, there isn’t room for your fingers to grab the top panel without pressing directly on the screen. The base of the laptop doesn’t even include a little lip for you to slop your finger underneath. Instead, the whole device folds into one seamless block that looks very clean but it’s an absolute pain to pen as you run your fingers along the perimeter of it, looking for someplace to pry it open.
Specifications and value
The XPS 13 doesn't only offer less space along its borders – it's more compact in general. It's only 0.59 inches (1.5cm) tall, 11.97 inches (30.4cm) wide, and 7.87 inches (20cm) long. Compared to last year's model, the new XPS 13 has exactly the same chassis but it weighs 0.13 pounds (0.6g) more, thanks to its denser battery.
By comparison, the MacBook Air seems like a needlessly large, 13-inch laptop measuring 12.80 x 8.94 x 0.67 inches (32.5 x 22.7 x 1.7cm). Also, compared to slim and small Yoga 900, Dell's Ultrabook is 0.78 inches (1.98cm) narrower and nearly an inch shallower 0.15 inches (0.38cm) but equally as thick.
The XPS 13 is also one of the lightest devices on the market. The standard, full HD model weighs only 2.7 pounds (1.2kg). Meanwhile, the touch-enabled, quad HD model weighs slightly more at 2.93 pounds (1.33kg), thanks to the added digitizer and cover glass. To put the XPS 13 in perspective, the Lenovo Yoga 900 weighs 2.84 pounds (1.29kg) and the 13-inch MacBook Air weighs 2.96 pounds (1.35kg).
Of course, it’s no competition for the lightweight champion, the Lenovo LaVie Z, which only weighs 1.87 pounds (.085kg).
As you'll soon see, this year's XPS 13 is brimming with the latest high-end laptop components. From the newest Skylake Intel Core i7 chip to gobs of RAM and storage, the setup with which I wrote this review should see you through well into 2018 and possibly beyond.
- CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
- RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)
- Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) InfinityEdge touch display
- Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
- Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 w/PowerShare, 1 x USB Type C and Thunderbolt 3, SD card reader, headset jack
- Connectivity: DW1820A 2x2 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz; Bluetooth 4.1
- Camera: 720p widescreen HD webcam with dual array digital microphones
- Weight: 2.93 pounds (1.32kg)
- Size: 11.97 x 7.87 x 0.35 – 0.59 inches (W x D x H) (30.4 x 19.9 x 0.89-1.5mm)
Priced at $1,449 (£1,149, AU $1,999), what you see above is the second best configuration that the XPS 13 you can put together. The UK model is slightly different in that you can't get the QHD+ screen upgrade without automatically bumping up to an Intel Core i7 CPU.
The Dell XPS 13 is a brilliantly-designed laptop that outperforms its competition under the hood. The Infinity Display should soon cause a ripple effect in laptop design and, on a personal level, dramatically improves your experience with the device. Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn't all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and it has just enough battery life to never leave you in a lurch.
Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen, quad HD+ version or stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will be a joy to use for years to come.
Read Article (Martinez & Lee | techradar.com | 01/20/2016)
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