Dell XPS 13: The Ultra Windows 7 Ultrabook

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.

 grey Dell XPS 13: The Ultra Windows 7 Ultrabook

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.

grey Dell XPS 13: The Ultra Windows 7 Ultrabook

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.

Performance

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.

grey Dell XPS 13: The Ultra Windows 7 Ultrabook

 

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.

Conclusion

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.

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