We’ve all found ourselves doing it. Windows PC users that is, lusting after the premium-grade build quality of a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air. No matter whether you’re a Linux, Windows or OSX user you can appreciate the time and thought that goes into the uni-body build of an Apple notebook computer.
Admittedly a proud Windows user, I’ve tried OSX on numerous occasions to see if there was something I was missing. OSX is a mature solid OS, but it’s no Windows. This is why I was overjoyed to hear about the line of ultra-portable line of laptop computers from Intel and OEMs, called Ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are premium-priced laptops with a premium build which are supposed to have great battery life in a smaller form factor. While many have tried to make such a device for Windows users, few have succeeded. Dell has succeeded.
Build and Appearance
The Dell XPS 13 carries the performance moniker “XPS”, but in a small 11-12 inch chassis. Make no mistake though, this is no netbook. Dell managed to pack a 13-inch bonded 1366×768 Gorilla Glass display into a compact machine and also gave it the power to serve users quickly and efficiently.
Sticking with the display, while the 13-inch 1366×768 LED display is perfectly fine, I would have liked to have seen Dell go all out crazy and add in a higher res screen with better viewing angles. That being said, the display is perfectly fine for my purposes.
The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook sports an aluminum body and an undercarriage made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber was a great choice because not only does the utrabook feel great to hold, but the carbon fiber keeps the bottom cool, unlike the full aluminum of a Macbook Air. The island-style keyboard is spacious and has great travel. The keys are back-lit, which make the device great for using in low light conditions.
Surrounding the keyboard, the deck of the device is covered in a smooth rubberized material, which feels great on the palms while typing and using the trackpad. The trackpad is one of the better pointing device on a laptop I’ve used. It’s smooth to scroll on and includes multi-finger gesture support.
As I noted earlier, The XPS 13 ultrabook is no slouch in the performance department. Boasting a Intel Core i5-2467 M processor running at 1.6 GHz, a 128GB (or 256) SSD, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD3000 graphics, this machine will move. Typical boot times are under 15 seconds easily and the system never lags.
Battery, Features and Misc
Battery life on the Dell XPS 13 is very good, however, the promised 8 hours by Dell falls a bit short of the actual time. I can typically go a little over 6 hours doing normal work on a fully charged battery. Going into this device with low battery life expectations, I was pleasantly surprised.
Dell made a great ultrabook, but the small device footprint caused Dell to make some concessions on the ports packed in the device. The device features two USB ports (one USB 3,0), a headphone jack, mini display port and a battery LED indicator along the side. Sorry SD card fans, there’s nothing to see here.
The sound on the XPS 13 is fantastic. The volume levels are great and with no speaker grills to behold, the sound just waffs up from beneath the keyboard giving users a quality experience.
My time with Dells first foray into the ultrabook category is a fantastic one. The XPS 13 ultrabook is simply the best-looking laptop on the market, surpassing Apple’s Macbook line. The look and feel of the device in hand is second to none. The performance is fantastic and Dell did a fine job of not loading down Windows with a ton of bloatware. At $1099 for the base model, I can absolutely recommend this device to those looking to jump into the ultrabook fray.