Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13 (Late 2015) review: Still lord of the ultraportables
Processor: Dual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions: 304x200x15mm, Weight: 1.29kg, Screen size: 13.3in, Screen resolution: 3,200x1,800, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 520, Total storage: 256GB SSD
When Dell released 2014's XPS 13, it claimed it was the "smallest 13in laptop on the planet", so Dell had plenty to live up to when it released 2015's model. Looking almost identical to the version it superseded, this XPS 13 maintains the original's sleek, gorgeous chassis, which is fast becoming a staple of premium Dell products.
Just 9mm at its thinnest point, tapering to a slightly thicker 15mm at the back, the 2015 XPS 13 is still exquisitely slim. Place it on the scales and it's no heavy beast either, weighing a measly 1.29kg – substantially lighter than the recent MacBook Air, which weighed 1.35kg.
It feels refined and looks stunning to boot, thanks to the virtually borderless "InfinityEdge" display. The bezels have been reduced to mere millimetres in order to squeeze a 13.3in screen into a far smaller chassis. It still remains an amazing feat of engineering, but it helps that the 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen panel is simply gorgeous. The high resolution makes working on multiple documents a real joy, with Windows 10’s improved scaling options coping admirably with the extra pixels.
With 93.3% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, the screen is also very accurate – beating last year’s equivalent model. A contrast ratio of 1,052:1 was excellent, giving colours plenty of pop. This means that the XPS 13 is still a reasonable choice for photographers. Very deep 0.17cd/m2 peak blacks help give darker images plenty of definition, with none of the backlight bleed that spoiled last year’s model.
Reflections are a slight issue, due to the glossy coating, but a bit of angle adjustment usually overcame it. The returning dynamic-contrast adjustment is more irritating; this forces the brightness levels to jump around erratically based on what’s onscreen. Finally, the webcam is again placed below the screen. It’s unorthodox, but a side effect of those super-thin bezels.
Keyboard and touchpad
A carbon-fibre keyboard surround adds variety to the inside of the laptop, contrasting nicely with the gunmetal-grey exterior. It has a slight grippy quality to it and doesn’t conduct heat through the palm rests when you’re typing, which is always a positive.
The keys themselves are nicely spaced, and don’t feel cramped as you type. They have a good degree of tactility, which leads to better accuracy as you can really feel when a key actuates. We had no problems typing for long periods, and missed keystrokes were an infrequent occurrence. The keys are backlit, so typing in dimly lit conditions isn’t a problem.
The touchpad is great too. It’s large, at least in the context of the XPS 13’s slimmed-down chassis, and is responsive and accurate. Windows 10 multi-touch gestures were all activated without a hitch, making swiping around a joy. You can also use the touchscreen; the hinge held firmly to prods and pokes, so we weren’t concerned the entire laptop would tilt back. Fingerprints do begin to mar the beautiful display, though, so you may want to carry around a microfibre cloth to keep it looking its best.