Dell XPS 13 review
Dell has taken the Ultrabook specification and made something beautiful. It's an excellent choice, but not quite the best.
Review Date: 13 Mar 2012
Price when reviewed: £1,299
Reviewed By: Tom Morgan
Dell’s XPS 13 might not have made it to shops in the first wave of Ultrabooks, but by taking its time, Dell has had a chance to produce an excellent laptop. Rather than create its ultrabook as an entirely new design, Dell has instead based the XPS 13 on its existing high-end products, and it looks all the better for it.
The XPS 13 has a fantastic minimalist look, with a metal lid, smooth curves and a carbon-fibre main body. Despite having a 13in display the laptop is surprisingly compact, even for an ultrabook; by reducing the depth of the main chassis, Dell has managed to make the XPS 13 look much smaller than its competitors, but it appears to have pulled it off without sacrificing rigidity.
The full-size keyboard is incredibly comfortable to type on, mainly thanks to its bouncy and responsive keys. All the punctuation keys are in the right places and there's a white LED backlight for typing in dim conditions. The touchpad too is a joy to use, despite not having separate buttons – its smooth finish creates almost no resistance to finger movement, and it coped well with having multiple fingers on its surface at once.
As we’ve come to expect from Dell laptops, the screen is fantastic. Its 1,366x768 resolution is only average for an ultrabook, but images and text still looked incredibly sharp. Colours were vibrant without appearing overblown, creating pictures that looked natural even at medium brightness settings. The screen's glossy finish can make reflections a little troublesome, but with ample screen tilt and decent viewing angles, you shouldn’t struggle to find a comfortable working position.
Our review unit came with a Core i7-2637M processor, which runs at 1.7GHz. It also had 4GB of RAM and a spacious 256GB SSD, but like most Dell laptops, it's possible to customise the specification when ordering. This configuration scored 45 overall on our multimedia benchmarks, so it should be more than powerful enough for everyday tasks whether you’re tied to a desk or on the move. Managing seven and a half hours' battery life in our light-use test, the XPS 13 is ideal for travellers who are rarely connected to a mains socket.
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