Date: July 25, 2012Rate This Experience:
I’ve been talking about doing a lot of travel recently. Something I’ve never really had the desire to do for many years, but all of a sudden I want to visit different places. Well, my last trip was to the Dominican during New Years, and I have a trip to Mexico booked for this New Years… I’ve also been doing some minor traveling here and there lately (Vancouver, Ottawa). One thing I am finding cumbersome is staying connected while traveling. I have two laptops (both Dell)… one that sits on my desk because it’s too fragile to be moved… the other is a gaming computer and weighs a lot. So my best bet was my iPad, but as I found in the Dominican when it was new.. the iPad is IMPOSSIBLE to do anything productive with. It’s fantastic for games and video/pictures etc… but any kind of work, forget about it.
@Dell and @DellCares contacted me and thought that they had the solution, an ‘ultrabook’ that was stacked out with the hardware but also incredibly light. They also said it was durable and would be able to travel anywhere in the world without worry. Lastly, as icing on the cake they wanted to send me one to try. The only thing they wanted in exchange? An honest review. If I didn’t like it, they wanted me to say I didn’t like it. So, after a couple months of using it… and a trip to BC with it. I’ve really put it through it’s paces!
Dell is clearly going head to head with Mac with the XPS13. The packaging is concise, minimal, and really makes it feel luxurious. On opening the box, the ‘ultrabook’ looks perfect. The Dell logo appears on the front, and on the back the XPS in a beautiful piece of aluminum, which is hiding the registration info. The bottom is contructed of carbon fiber which is very durable and light as car enthusiast will know. Quite frankly, the XPS logo on the front would have been better in my opinion… but that’s purely cosmetic… though, I imagine if peopel saw XPS rather than Dell they might be inclined to ask what it was, or at the very least Google it. The inside is also very crisp. No unnecessary blinking lights to tell me if the Scroll Lock is on. The keys are illuminated and the font used on the keys is crisp and futuristic. It really does look beautiful.
It feels great. It is really light… like, really light. My iPad with it’s solid case weights about 2lbs… the XPS13 weighs 3lbs. And it’s so easy to hold onto. The bottom has some sort of rubber coating which makes it stick to my hand if I’m holding it. (Yes, with one hand!) I was actually using it as I was walking around the Vancouver airport (had to meet a deadline with a Societe Perrier article!) The keys feel natural and are nicely spaced.
Obviously, there are fewer ports… the sacrifice of weight is definitely worth the sacrifice of ports. And that’s not to say there aren’t any… in fact there is two USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0. There is also a headset jack (obvious) as well as a Mini DisplayPort (which for those unaware allows you to connect via VGA, DVI or HDMI with the right adapter).
This is always a tricky thing for me… I like a physical mouse and while the trackpad is nicer than any I’ve used in the past (better sensentivity, nice to touch, the clicks feel good) it’s almost too sensitive to touch. There’s been times where I hover my finger a few milimeters above the pad and it seems to recognize even the slightest soft touch as a bunch of clicks. The other problem I’ve noticed, is that when I use “alt+tab” to switch between programs which I do very often, the trackpad stops working and I need to lift my hand completely off of it for a second before it will move the cursor again. It’s something that hasn’t happened on my other laptops. (Maybe there’s a setting for both of these, just haven’t found it yet.)
Sound and Picture
The sound is nice on it. Really nice in fact. Better than my other laptops. It’s loud and sounds clean, no scratchy sounds. The monitor is equally impressive. Very vibrant 1366×768 display and the auto contrast function is very accurate to changing light conditions. In the sun, much like every other device can’t contrast enough to match.
Running a ridiculously fast Intel i7-2637M and 4GB of RAM the XPS13 is like a warp engine (it’s tech, I had to fit in a Star Trek mention somewhere!) I can run Photoshop, Premiere, watch movies, listen to music… some of it all at the same time without any kind of slowdown. It’s fantastic how fast this computer runs. From completely turned off, it only takes 12 seconds to be fully booted too! From ‘sleep’ it’s good to go in 4 seconds. Well done Mr. Scott, you’ve given her all she’s got! Then with a 256GB Solid State Drive, it’s plenty to work with. The only downside is the graphics processor, running Intel HD Graphics 3000 it unfortunately can’t play graphics heavy games. But, if I’m traveling, I shouldn’t be playing games anyway.
If you just use it to write in Word, with all the Bluetooth, Wifi and other peripheral devices turned off I managed to clock just about 9 hours of battery life. Watching movies/internet browsing I still managed to go an entire 5 and a half hours before hitting zero battery. So this thing can get you through quite a bit before needing an outlet.
I wish that Dell hadn’t installed all of the ‘trial software’ that they do… not that it’s a major inconvenience, but just seems out of place on a computer where everything else is premium quality. I really love this computer… with a USB (or possible Bluetooth?) connected mouse, it’s perfect and resolves my issues with the trackpad. Incredibly light, super portable and clearly very durable… this is a computer worth looking at! I’d have loved a better graphics card, however I know that would hurt battery life and weight, so I’m willing to overlook it. If you’re going to travel, if you want to be mobile, if you don’t want to be confined to a desk… the XPS13 is IDEAL. Having shown my family this computer while I was in BC, one of my relatives was so impressed, he ordered one right on the very computer! Haha. Some sort of computer Inception.