It was not very long ago that Dell announced the launch of its first Ultrabook, the XPS 13. The product, a much sought after one by Dell fans was recently launched in India as well. Dell was kind enough to lend us a pre-shipping unit of the laptop for review and here is what we found out.
Look and Feel
One look at the XPS 13, and you would realize that this is a premium product. Everything about it oozes quality. Right from the material out of which it is made – to the overall look and feel. While it might look like a Macbook clone at times, Dell has done enough changes to the design to ensure that no one blames them for copying Apple. The XPS 13 boasts of housing a 13 inch display in a 12 inch form factor which also enables it to earn the title of being the smallest Ultrabook you can currently buy.
It is quite thin as well, measuring just 18mm at its thickest and an astonishing 6mm at its thinnest. It might be a tad bulky for its size at 1.35 kgs but is quite portable as well. The laptop is made of machined aluminium which plays a major part in ending the device with the aforementioned premium feel.
Dell has also not compromised on robustness made obvious by the base which is made of carbon fiber. This has also helped Dell keep the weight down to tolerable limits apart from making the device a tad “cooler”.
The Ultrabook 13 gets two USB ports of which one supports USB 3.0 standard for fast data transfers. There is a 3.5mm combined headphone and mic jack as well as a mini DisplayPort. Dell also supplies a set of cables with the device which the users’ would find very useful. The kit includes an USB to VGA cable as well as a similar Ethernet Cable.
Like most other products in its category, the battery compartment of the XPS 13 is sealed. There is a visual battery life indicator as well which is very nifty.
Screen, Keyboard, TouchPad
The XPS 13 Ultrabook like we said earlier gets a 13 inch 1366 x 768 pixel display. It is glossy in nature and gets an edge to edge Gorilla glass coating thereby increasing its durability. The display is excellent for watching videos – albeit playback of full HD stuff is pointless thanks to the low resolution. Thanks to 300 nits of brightness, the laptop would always look vibrant and colorful – albeit in the dark, you might be forced to keep the brightness levels down to acceptable levels. The Ultrabook also gets a 1.3 megapixel webcam at the front for all your video conferencing needs.
The keyboard on the XPS 13 is a straight lift from the Dell Adamo system that they had bought for a brief time – back in 2010. This Chiclet keyboard offers excellent tactile feedback and has an excellent layout making the all-important job of typing – a dream on this laptop. It is also backlit; so you don’t need to search for keys while using the laptop at night. Thanks to the diminutive size of the device, all the keys are well within reach of your hand. Overall a very excellent job by Dell on this front.
As we move on to the Touchpad, we notice that there is a clear inspiration here from Apple. That’s right, the XPS 13 uses a glass touchpad – à la the Macbook series and support various multitouch gestures as well. While it still has a long way to reach the overall fluidness of the gestures and multitouch abilities of the Macbook touchpad, it still is a marked improvement compared to earlier Dell Touchpads.
Hardware and Battery Life
The Dell XPS Ultrabook is being offered in three versions; two Intel Core i5 based versions and one Core i7 version for the power user. The unit which we had for review was the base version with a Core i5 2467M processor coupled with 4 GB of DDR3 memory. Storage is handled by an SSD which in this case was one which had 128 GB of storage space. This might be tad lower for all you movie junkies out there. But then, what are external hard drives for?
The other options currently on offer on the Dell website include another Core i5 version with a larger 256 GB SSD. The top of the line version is powered by an Intel Core i7 2637 M processor running at 1.7 Ghz.
Under the closed hood is a six cell Li-Polymer battery rated at 47 WHr, Dell claims a battery life of around 8 hours. In real world conditions though, it lasted just about five hours with normal usage. This is pretty decent. If you however watch movies or perform intensive gaming, it would be difficult to get more than 3 hours on a single charge.
The XPS 13 comes preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium and packs in a couple of Dell specific features like the Dell Datasafe Online backup service. It also has a nifty face recognition software built in which might prove useful to the paranoid amongst you. That pretty much sums up the software part.
There is little doubt about the fact that the XPS 13 Ultrabook is an expensive product. You can get similarly spec’d Ultrabooks for a lower cost. However this time, we believe Dell is somewhat justified in pricing the XPS 13 at Rs. 79,990 for the base version. This is because of the overall build of the laptop as well as the quality of components that has gone in to the device. The carbon fiber base, the durable gorilla glass coating and the overall premium look and feel of the laptop will ensure that people would certainly give the product a second look. This IS the Ultrabook to get if you have the cash. We suggest you go for the base or the mid-range version which is 10k expensive. Any further, you could be better off with a fully featured, better spec’d desktop replacement.