Dell has a much more of belief in theXPS 13, its first entry into the emerging Ultrabook class of superthin laptops. Compared to what we are applied to watching from Dell,it is a plan marvel: thin, light, sleek, and well manufactured onhigh-quality materials. It looks good, feels good, and performs well.If not for its disappointing display quality and a few minor trackpadmatters, the XPS 13 would qualify like the best Ultrabook until. Evenwith those drawbacks, it is one of the best Ultraportables about, butI can not recommend it unreservedly.
The version of the XPS 13 that Iexamined is the entry-level model. Our service line configurationproved to be fairly zippy on its own, delivering a strong World Bench7 score of 136. Chalk that performance up to the SSD, which assiststhe system boot up in about 17 seconds and performs basic fileoperations very speedily. In our battery tests, the system lastedonly a hair under 6.5 hours. However, that number drops precipitouslyif you crank up the display brightness, which can get quite bright.
The plan and build quality are a cutabove anything we have watched from Dell in a long time, and amongthe best we have watched in any thin-and-light laptop on the market.The base, composed of carbon fiber, has a pleasant soft-touch feel,and it hides the obnoxious service tag info under a flip-up metalplate for a cleaner feel. The matte-black magnesium-alloy keyboarddeck and the aluminum lid add rigidity where it is required.
The whole machine weighs 3 poundsalmost the similar like Apple's 13-inch Macbook Air. Dell's system,despite having a 13.3-inch display, is really shorter and narrower ascompare to Apple's, thanks to the very narrow bezel about the edge.Dell enjoys to say that it keep a 13-inch display into an 11-inchchassis, which is a bit of a stretch, but the laptop's compactness isimpressive. The XPS 13 felt solid and heavy in my hands, and it didnot flex at everything.
I was rather impressed by the keyboard.Most ultra thin laptops' keyboards do not support fast, perfecttyping, but the one on the XPS 13 allowed me to click away atcomplete speed. It is also rear lit. The track pad was another story.On the initial release driver, it looked rather finicky. Adjust thesensitivity thus that the cursor responds considerable, and it willjump about the display as you type, due to poor palm sensing.
Lower the sensitivity to remove thattrouble, and the cursor stops responding to your touch. I got myhands on a new driver and calibration program, which greatly improvedthe situation. The track pad however is not among the best I haveapplied, but it is no longer a major weakness. The display, on theother hand, remains a serious shortcoming. How Dell could make such asolid, attractive, well-performing laptop and then hamstring it witha crummy display is beyond me.
The result is a bit on the low slopewe are applied to watching 1440 by 900 or 1600 by 900 on premium13-inch laptops. While 1366 by 768 isn't uncommon, it is not theluxurious high-end specification that Dell ought to have purposed foron a laptop as this one. The average result is acceptable, but thevisual quality is harder to tolerate. When I moved off-axis to theleft or right, colors shifted dramatically. When I opened the lid tothe wrong angle, the contrast and brightness went haywire. When Iappeared closely at sure gradients, I could watch the spaces in thegrid of pixels.
Ultimately this is a mediocre LCD panelcovered with pretty edge-to-edge glass. It is not a deal breaker,only a disappointment. The audio deserves special mention, if onlybecause it may be the best sound I've heard from a 3-pound Ultrabook.It acquires rather loud, and sounds pretty good, considering thedesign constraints on speaker size and placement. You'll never getbig bass or room-filling music from a laptop this small, but theloudness and clarity of the XPS 13's speakers belies the tiny packagethey come in.