Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook (2015) review: The future of ultrabooks is here
- thin and light
- great performance
- beautiful display
- efficient keyboard
- poor battery life
- front camera is awkwardly positioned
- trackpad can be clumsy at times
In every contemplation when buying an ultraportable laptop, there are only three standard qualities that most users look for: thin, light, and powerful. We have seen lots of these qualities on most ultrabooks to date. Yet this year, Dell is set to redefine the future of the ultrabook with the all-new XPS 13. This laptop speaks not just of these three top qualities, but four: thin, light, powerful, and head-turning. The latest revision to Dell’s ultrabook lineup is better than ever with the best innovations an ultrabook needs to have. This is the review of the all-new Dell XPS 13, and know more about why this ultrabook is the peek into the future of ultralight computing.
Dell took a big step in redefining its XPS line of laptops. The display of the new XPS 13 is large for its frame. The Dell design team has worked for months to finally arrive with a distinctly new and futuristic look for the XPS 13. It is thinner, lighter, and smaller than its predecessors. It’s good to know that Dell managed to pack a 13.3-inch display in a 11-inch frame. The result: extraordinarily thin bezels that are unseen in ultrabooks of its class. As another consequence of this change, the XPS 13 has also a smaller footprint compared to other 13-inch laptops. The chassis of the XPS 13 is rigid and tough, made from a dark aluminum finish on the back of the display and the underside, and the deck is made of a soft touch finish that resembles carbon fiber.
The XPS 13 is available in two touchscreen display configurations. First is the standard 1920-by-1080 pixel display which is Full 1080p HD, and an insanely high-resolution Quad HD display at a resolution of 3200-by-1800 pixels. With the latter, you can be sure of a sharp and crisp display experience, as the Quad HD display gives off a pixel density of 276 pixels per inch. Text looks incredibly sharp, and photos and videos look amazing on this high-contrast display.
Access ports on the XPS 13 is not compromised, even with the thinner side profile that has a tapering wedge shape similar to the MacBook Air. It still has two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, and a Mini DisplayPort for simultaneous audio and video output. It is obvious that Dell omitted the HDMI and Ethernet ports that come standard among other ultrabooks, but they have an optional USB adapter for these if the user wishes to use them. Even with this wedge profile, it doesn’t look like a MacBook Air at all. Many ultrabooks of its class are copying the MacBook Air in every way possible, but the XPS 13 stands out for its uniqueness in being an ultra-thin laptop.
A consequence of the thin bezels around the display is the relocation of the front-facing camera for video calls and self portraits. There is no space left for a webcam on top of the display in the XPS 13, so Dell decided to place the camera on the bottom left portion of the display. It can be awkward-looking especially when someone sees you on the other side. You can mistakenly put up your nose on the camera instead of your face, so take this camera’s position in consideration whenever you use it.
The keyboard works very well, with well-spaced keys. Surprisingly though, the XPS 13 has a full-size backlit keyboard even with the chassis size of an 11-incher. You can be sure of a great typing experience in all well-lit and dark environments. But despite the great keyboard, the trackpad on the XPS 13 is either a hit or a miss. Trackpads on Windows laptops are notable for erratic feedback, which is very far from the smooth and responsive trackpads found on the MacBooks. This might probably be a software problem, which can be fixed with a simple update, but for the time being, the trackpad on the XPS 13 is unbearable in certain conditions.
Battery life on the XPS 13 is disappointing, lasting for only about 6 hours despite its very aggressive estimates of 11 hours for the high-resolution version and 15 hours for the 1080p screen model. This can be attributed to the smaller body frame, which consequently means a smaller battery inside. Even with the optimizations to the processor and graphics, don’t expect this laptop to ride your all-day lifestyle.
The Dell XPS 13 is a good ultraportable laptop you can consider, especially if you are into the high-resolution display, which looks incredibly good. It offers a speedy performance thanks to the latest Intel chips, and a great feature set with its backlit keyboard and thin, light form factor that’s easy to lug around. If you care about these features, even with the poor battery life, the XPS 13 is a no-brainer. But for the price starting at $799, many other ultrabooks that offer the same performance and longer battery life can be a better buy for your hard-earned money.