Dell XPS 13 review

Dell XPS 13 review

T3 5
  • 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

    Dell XPS 13 review

    Love

    • Very attractive
    • Great keyboard
    • Impressive battery

    Hate

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

    Ultrabooks took the forefront at this year’s CES and Dell, one of the industry’s top guns, unveiled the Dell XPS 13 to us all. It’s got some catching up to do – after all, the Asus Zenbook UX31 and Toshiba Satellite Z830 have impressed us for some months now.

    Luckily it seems more than a match for its Ultra-competition and some remarkable design choices instantly set this apart from others we’ve seen.

    With Intel, as ever, providing the latest Sandy Bridge performance specs, this could be the Ultrabook to tip the balance.

    The Dell XPS 13 we've been looking at is a pre-build model, so the full retail version could potentially vary slightly, but we'll keep you posted on that.

    Dell XPS 13: Features

    The Dell XPS 13’s aluminium chassis is jaw-droppingly attractive. Outwardly, it’s a smaller, thinner version of the Dell XPS 15z and the Dell XPS 14z – no bad thing. A curving silver shell measuring 7mm at its thinnest point and a barely-there weight of 1.4 means holding the XPS 13 is akin to holding a tablet.

    Once you lift the lid and peer inside, the craftsmanship of the device becomes apparent. Unlike the silver interiors of rivals like the Acer Aspire S3, the XPS 13 is a rubberised jet black and devoid of stickers or markings.
     
    Because of the thinness of the chassis the backlit chicklet keyboard, like other Ultrabooks, has a shallow travel. But spacing of the keys is well proportioned, as is the slightly curving design of the keys themselves.

     

    Dell XPS 13: Screen

    We had to marvel at the engineering of the screen on the Dell XPS 13. There’s almost no bezel around the edge, so the 13.3-inch screen seems like it’s sitting in an 11-inch laptop.

    The whole screen is made with tough Gorilla Glass and the 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is good enough to enjoy 720p high-definition movies.

    Dell XPS 13: Performance

    When you’re done admiring the outside of the Dell XPS 13, you’ll find the interior components just as pleasing. Sporting a quad-core Intel Core i7-2637M CPU, you get lightning quick response times and can comfortably multitask between a range of programs and web pages.

    The Sandy bridge chip runs with an integrated Intel graphics card with about 1.5GB given over to shared video memory. Movie and photo editing shouldn’t be a problem, but games will be beyond this machine.

    Dell XPS 13: Battery

    Battery life is a key feature of the Ultrabook platform and the 6-cell battery built into the XPS 13 isn’t accessible to the likes of you and me.

    But, Dell claims it will run comfortably up to 8 hours, giving you an entire day at the office without needing the mains.

    Dell XPS 13: Verdict

    While we've only been able to get our hands on a pre-build version so far, the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook matches jaw-dropping design with characteristically strong performance.

    Although we would have liked a little more connectivity, there’s very little to fault with this device.

    It differentiates itself from the competition with a head-turning design and keeps up an impressive battery life.

    The Gorilla Glass display is given room to shine thanks to a minimal bezel and we felt we could use it as much for work as for kicking back with a high-definition movie.

    We feel this is easily one of the strongest Ultrabooks in the current line-up and a spectacular piece of engineering from Dell.

    We'll bring you more info as soon as we've had the final retail model on our test bench, as well as a confirmed retail price.

    Dell XPS 13 availability: March 2012

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

    For a closer look at the Dell XPS 13, check out our hands-on video:

  • 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

    Dell XPS 13 review

    Love

    • Very attractive
    • Great keyboard
    • Impressive battery

    Hate

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

    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)
     

    • Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Hands on Review
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