Last updated on November 15th, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell launched the 2015 version of their XPS 13 in January at CES, and it made a big waves among the tech savvy Joes due to claims of a 13 inch display in the chassis of an 11 inch notebook. If you’re not too clued up on your displays, take it from us, what Dell are calling ‘Infinity Display’ is very very impressive.

Dell kindly gave us one to put it through its paces to see if this near bezel-less notebook lives up to our very high expectations and to see whether it can truly challenge its main rival – the MacBook Air. You know what? We reckon it did and certainly will. Read on for our 2015 Dell XPS 13 Review.

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Design

We should say from the off that the version we received was from Stateside. This means some facts and figures may vary when they arrive in Blighty, but all the features should be very pretty much the same.

Aesthetically the XPS 13 looks immaculate. It’s designed with a silver-coloured aluminium exterior that is actually very similar to the MacBook Air in sleekness and durability. After a couple of weeks of testing, we’ve found no fingerprints or scratches. And believe us, we’ve been using it plenty.

The palm-rest and the backlit keyboard are cased in a pristine carbon fibre composite that is smooth to the touch and reeks of durability. We’ve found some laptops’ palm-rest can become overheated or sweaty as they’re mostly built with the same plastic that the device itself is made out of, but we never found this with the XPS 13. It was never irritable and the pad didn’t retain any oils from our fingers.

The first thing we looked for was the promise of a small bezel around the display. And we have to say, at 5.2 mm, they really are special and are easily the thinnest display bezels on any laptop made today. Naturally Dell have boosted the pixel performance on the XPS 13 too but it also doesn’t give off too much glare, which is great for this humble blogger on the move in the summer time. The viewing angles are also practically flawless. We reckon you can get 4/5 people side by side viewing the display without losing any imagery along the screen’s corners.

We only found one problem with the design of the XPS 13 and that’s the camera. In order to save space along the upper edge of the front panel, Dell had to situate the webcam on the lower left-hand side of the bezel, as opposed to top and centre like most modern laptops. While this isn’t a major issue for most, for anyone who uses Skype regularly, like me, it does make video calling a little odd.

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Performance

As mentioned earlier, the real selling point of the XPS 13 is its screen-to-panel ratio which offers edge-to-edge display. With this laptop, you’re getting the screen footage of a 13.3-inch laptop on an 11.9-inch device. Amazingly, Dell has delivered a screen that covers 80% of the panel. That’s 11% more screen real estate than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Like the MacBook, most other laptops are built with around an inch of border surrounding the monitor.

The quad HD+ version of the XPS 13 has managed to cram a 3,200 x 1,800 resolution display into this small laptop. The majority of 13-inch laptops in the Ultrabook category don’t go beyond full HD resolution, which stands at 1,920 x 1,080. It shows as well with a near cinematic quality screen.

While it’s not necessarily a selling-point, it should be said that the speakers on the XPS 13 are also surprisingly good. What was almost certainly an after-thought, actually does pack a punch despite their relative conspicuousness. The bass is obviously nothing to write home about but we don’t think we’ve got above 30/100 in volume.

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A Day In The Life Of A Blogger

The XPS 13 doesn’t just offer less border space – it’s also less spacious generally. It’s only 0.6 inches (15mm) tall, 11.98 inches wide, and 7.88 inches (200mm) long. When compared to the smaller devices on the market, it’s about one inch shallower and a quarter of an inch shorter than the Yoga 3 Pro, for example. Most importantly, when compared to the MacBook Air, the Dell XPS 13 is 0.8 inches shorter, one inch slimmer and 1.1 inches shallower.

Not only that, the XPS 13 is also one of the lightest laptops around. Depending on which model you go for, the XPS 13 weighs only 2.6-2.8 pounds. To give some perspective, the 13-inch MacBook Air weighs 2.69 pounds currently.

While that’s not too much of a differential, the point is that the XPS 13 is perfect for carrying around on the go and is made for everyday use anywhere – which is exactly what we’ve been doing. It’s light and small but still very durable, and is perfect for a blogger!

Dell claim that the XPS 13 has an industry-leading battery life of ‘over 15 hours of run time on a single charge’. We didn’t seem to get anywhere near that claim. In fairness, we used it regularly with multiple applications on the go but we think we maxed out at around 9 and ½ hours. This may well be down to the fact we were testing the touchscreen model.

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Having said that, that was no real issue as it still performs well when compared with others. Not to mention the Dell Power Companion, which is a power reserve for all of your devices including your phone and tablet. It charges within an hour or so and gives you laptop, and your phone, a full charge simultaneously. It’s incredibly handy and another added detail that makes this laptop very special indeed.

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Verdict

The Dell XPS 13 is practical, attractive and sturdily built. It possesses a truly remarkable screen, fast performance and even a needlessly good audio system. We can’t recommend it enough.

The XPS’s revolutionary display is what will differentiate it from what is an already pretty excellent Ultrabook market. So if you want the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook, head over to the Dell XPS 13 Website and check out more details. Prices will be around £1,099 if you want the touchscreen which doesn’t come as standard. It’s not cheap, but we think it’s fully worth the tag.

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