Dell XPS 13 review

Can the Dell XPS 13 take the Ultrabook crown?

What is a hands on review?
Image 1 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 2 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 3 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 4 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 5 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 6 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 7 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 8 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 9 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 10 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 11 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 12 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 13 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 14 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 15 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 16 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 17 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 18 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 19 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13
Image 20 of 20 Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13

For

  • Very attractive
  • Great keyboard
  • Impressive battery

Against

  • No microSD slot
  • No Ethernet connection
  • Integrated mouse buttons

Dell XPS 13 Review: This ultrabook is the latest addition to the new wave of powerful slimline laptops, sporting a 13-inch screen and eight-hour battery life

Update: Love this product? Then check out our roundup of the best ultrabooks and best laptops to buy in 2012.

The Dell XPS 13 represents the brand's first step into the ultrabook market, joining last year's slimline Dell XPS 15Z and Dell XPS 14Z and we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview ahead of the official launch announcement.

The 13-inch laptop is set to go head to head with the likes of the Acer Aspire S3, Asus UX31 Zenbook, Toshiba Satellite Z830 ultrabooks, making it a likely contender for our list of the best laptops around.

Dell XPS 13: Features

The razor-thin Dell XPS 13 features a chassis crafted from aluminium, giving it a very sturdy feel. Meanwhile, the underside is made from carbon fibre which is much lighter and also better at disseminating heat, so that you won't get too hot if you're typing away for than 10 minutes at a time.

The underside is also home to the built-in speakers (which we didn't get a chance to test), and this is also where you'll find the the hardware stickers that are usually located next to the trackpad on most laptops - a nice touch which means that the laptop's keyboard sports a slick, uncluttered look.

The keyboard itself is responsive and easy to use, while the backlighting means that it's great for working in low lighting.

Boot up was extremely fast, thanks to Intel Rapid Start Technology, and while we didn't have the opportunity to try out the Intel Smart Connect Technology, it certainly sounds appealing.

The idea is that the Dell XPS 13 automatically wakes up every now and again when not in use, connects to an available network and refreshes your emails and calendar so that you don't have to wait for them to load when you fire up the laptop to use.

It does this by periodically waking up, connecting to an available network and refreshing your email and calendars so that you don't have to wait for them to update when you power up the laptop for use.

Dell XPS 13: Screen

The XPS 13 features a 13.3-inch screen, which the maker has managed to squash into a tiny 12-inch casing, partly thanks to an almost non-existent bezel around the display. The screen offers a 720p HD resolution of 1366x768 pixels and while we only had the chance to see the home screen during our preview, it looked suitably punchy with sharp edges on graphics and vibrant colours as well as a decent viewing angle.

Dell XPS 13: Battery

According to the manufacturer, the Dell XPS 13 will offer eight hours of battery life, which is good news if you want to get a day's work out of your laptop. Obviously we didn't get to test the battery life in our preview, but it's something that we'll be looking at in our full review. The good news is that even if you do need to carry the charger with you, it's a lot smaller and lighter than most conventional laptop chargers, so it shouldn't weigh you down too much.

Dell XPS 13: Verdict

Obviously we didn't get to test the Dell XPS 13 out in the wild or give all of its features a thorough run-through but in our limited time with the new ultrabook we were certainly impressed. The minimal design and lack of stickers around the keyboard give the product a very slick finish and the wafer-thin profile and featherlight weight are strong selling points.

While we didn't get to see quite how speedy the XPS 13 is in operation, the screen was bright and full of clarity, and we were also wowed by the almost instantaneous boot-up time. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, which will be the deciding factor for many. Stay tuned for a full review.

Dell XPS 13 availability: 13 March 2012

Dell XPS 13 price: TBC (estimates suggest £899)

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.