2015 Newest Model Dell XPS13 Ultrabook Computer – the World’s First 13.3″ FHD WLED Backlit Infinity Display, 5th Gen Intel Core i5-5200U Processor 2.2GHz / 4GB DDR3 / 128GB SSD / Windows 8.1 Reviews

  • The World’s Frst Infinity Display of 13.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) Backlit WLED Screen
  • 5th Generation Broadwell Intel Core i5-5200U 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.70 GHz
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM / 128GB SSD / Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • Exceptionally Long-Lasting Battery Life up to 15 hrs
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit), light weight only 2.6 lbs

Product Reviews

“Dude, I got a Dell!!! And it’s Awesome!!! (Google for the Dell Dude reference. lol)” – Quentin Moore “The Tech Ranker”
Score: 5/5 Source: Amazon.com

Like everyone else, I saw all of the positive press the Dell XPS 13 received during CES 2015. Since the XPS 13 was made available for ordering right after it was announced, and since I needed a new laptop to replace my failed Microsoft Surface Pro 3 experiment, I decided to take a plunge and buy the latest and greatest thing.

I like the Surface Pro 3, but I need a laptop that has good performance + a good keyboard + long battery life. So far the XPS 13 appears to have answered all of my prayers. Here are some of my quick thoughts on the device thus far:

✔ PROS:

– Beautiful “bezel-less” screen. Wide viewing angles. Can be viewed in direct sunlight
– Thin screen bezel allows this 13″ laptop to fit within an 11″ laptop size chassis
– Build quality is solid. There’s no flex in the keyboard or the bottom of the device
– Thin, light weight, and ultra-portable. Its soft touch carbon fiber material looks and feels premium
– Performance is good for a low power, Intel core processor
– You can opt to save money and battery life and get the 1920×1080 non-touch screen model, or you can upgrade to the 3200 x 1800 touch screen model
– HD Video looked good and worked as you expect it to
– While researching Ultrabooks, I found many to have trackpad issues. The XPS 13 doesn’t have this problem. Its trackpad is accurate and nicely sized
– The trackpad allows you to perform some gestures (scrolling, pinch and zoom, etc.) that will help you miss the touch screen less, should you go with the non touch screen model
– It includes 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi for maximum wireless performance. Bluetooth 4.0 is included as well
– It has a backlit keyboard
– Battery life is great. Plus you can add a small external battery to increase battery life even further
– Low starting price, although I would suggest that most upgrade to the i5, 8GB ram unit.
– It has a full size SD card slot, which should make photographers happy. Note that 1/3 of the SD card protrudes from the slot
– Includes a display port. Optional Dell adapter allows you to add HDMI, VGA, and Ethernet ports. Or you can get a cheap HDMI adapter
– Optional docking station supports up to three external monitors, including 1 4K monitor
– The PCIe M.2 SSD drive is upgradable. Unless you need 512GB, the Dell $100 upgrade to 256GB is a good value.
– You can plug the AC adapter into the optional external battery, then plug the external battery into the XPS to charge the XPS and external battery simultaneously.

✔ CONS:

– The fan kicks in when you are taxing the system. If you use the High Performance power setting, the fan seems to run constantly
– The screen on the touch-screen version is very glossy. I don’t mind glossy but some people will.
– Key travel on the keyboard is a tad bit shallow. It’s not bad but it’s worth noting.
– Due to the thin bezel, the web cam is under the screen. As a result, your fingers may show up on the webcam while you type during webcam sessions
– The body can get warm, although I have yet to experience uncomfortable warmth
– Air vents are on the bottom so be careful about resting the XPS 13 on your bed or rug
– The speakers are on the sides instead of the front and sound tiny
– The low entry price increases quickly once you add a few upgrades
– No HDMI port, although you can add one via an optional Dell Adapter
– No Stylus pen support.
– No 4G option as of this writing
– Don’t expect to play 3D games with this laptop as its integrated graphics can’t handle it

✔ TIPS:

– Just like with all Windows Computers, before you begin using your XPS 13, run Windows Update. Repeat running Windows Update until there are no more updates available.
– If you have the Ethernet equipped Dell adapter accessory, consider using the Ethernet port to speed up the update process.
– If you encounter a failed update, restart your computer and try again. Another thing to try is a clean restart before performing the update. (Google: windows 8 clean restart)
– I find that I get the least amount of fan noise when I use the default Dell Power Settings. In High Performance mode, the fan runs constantly.
– Unless you need 512GB of storage or more, get the Dell $100 256GB SSD upgrade. It’s more economical than an after market upgrade to 256GB (unless you can sell the 128GB PCIe M.2 SSD drive you are replacing)

✔ ACCESSORIES I HAVE:

– The Dell Power Companion 12,000 mAh external battery works great. Plus you can charge it and your XPS 13 with the AC Adapter at the same time
– The Dell Adapter adds these ports to the XPS 13: HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, USB 2.0. I got it primarily to add VGA and Ethernet ports.

✔ TOUCH SCREEN vs NON TOUCH SCREEN:

Non Touch Screen
+ Cheaper! 🙂
+ 15 hours of battery life
+ Matted Screen minimizes glare
– Will not be able to use touch centric, Metro apps
– Lower resolution (1920×1080 vs 3200×1800), although, I doubt most people will miss the bigger resolution

Touch Screen
+ Fully compatible with touch centric, Metro apps
+ Higher resolution screen (3200×1800 vs 1920×1080)
– More Expensive
– Glossy screen leads to more glare
– Less battery life (12 hours) than the other model (15 hours)

✔ Dell XPS 13 vs Lenovo LaVie Z HZ550

Yes, the LaVie is very light but the battery life is only 6 hours. If you are always near a power outlet, this may not be an issue for you. Personally I don’t see the point in having a light and portable laptop that only gets an OEM rated 6 hours of battery life. Real world battery life will likely be less.

The LaVie also has a higher starting price than the XPS 13 ($1299), although, I generally recommend getting at least the $1299 XPS 13. Note that you can often save on Dell laptops via coupons, cash back offers, and finance deals. The LaVie’s high price coupled with the smallish battery makes me think the XPS 13 is the clear winner in this battle of early 2015 Ultrabooks.

✔ BOTTOM LINE:

Between work and personal laptops, I’ve probably used over a dozen laptops over the years. This includes the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 that was supposed to replace laptops but missed the mark (at least for me). Without a doubt, the Dell XPS 13 is my favorite of all time. It’s beautifully designed, it’s light and thin, and it has a solid build. It’s both functional and cool. Depending on whether or not you need the upgrades, it can be had for relatively cheap ($799 minus coupons, cash back offers, and other deals).

My favorite feature is the combination of long battery life, and the ability to further extend its longevity via an optional, small external battery. I purchased this thing for its ability to handle long travel days, long meeting days moving from conference room to conference room without a power cable, and long work sessions at Starbucks. So far, the XPS 13 has worked well for my personal use cases.

There are a few compromises to be aware of, such as the glossy screen, webcam location, and tiny speakers. Also, 3D gamers should definitely choose something else. If these issues do not matter to you, I suspect you will love the Dell XPS 13. It’s a premium device and probably one of the best mainstream laptops Dell has released in years.

✔ DELL COUPONS:

2RRVTDD4TVJMCM – $100 off $999 (expires 1/30/2015)
VPJ1MHN3Z6T6V3 – $75 off $799 (limited time)
D98VWMJMXTZCVZ – 10% off accessories (limited time)
78M4SHHJ4JC9WW – Extra 10% off accessories (limited time)
H3P95KRH?KF5VH – 50% off Dell 12,000 mAh Portable Power Companion – PW7015M (expires 1/30/2015 7am)

** Did you find this review helpful? I hope so! If you have questions about the XPS 13, please post a comment. **

Quick Review” – Wayne Ngo
Score: 5/5 Source: Amazon.com

My configuration: Core i5, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD, 1080p matte display at $899 (Microsoft Store)

Things I Like:

+Looks:
The aluminum finish is extremely clean. It’s a tad darker than Apple’s aluminum finish and both the lid and bottom are solid with that cold metal feel upon touch. The palm rest area has an interesting carbon fiber pattern that adds a unique look and has a very nice soft touch finish. The Dell logos on the lid and beneath the screen is tidy and minimalist.

+Size & Weight:
I considered the MBP 13″ Retina to be one of the smallest 13″ notebooks but the XPS 13 is even smaller thanks to the extremely thin bezels. The XPS 13 may not be the thinnest but it has the smallest foot print of any 13″ notebook – it’s basically the size of the MacBook Air 11″. I am very much enjoying the compact size and the associated lack of weight (2.6 lbs for my model).

+Workmanship:
Fit and finish are impeccable. Despite the small size, the XPS 13 feels extremely solid. The carbon fiber palm rests feel sturdy and rigid and there is no creaking when I put pressure on them. The hinge is nice and tight and there is no screen wobble when typing. There are no gaps between the carbon fiber deck and bottom panel nor are there any between the screen and bezel. The keyboard is rigid on the perimeter and has minimal flex in the center.

+Screen:
I chose the 1080p non touch option because for me, 1080p on a 13″ screen is more than enough. Additionally, it’s matte! I’d pick the matte 1080p panel over the 3200×1800 glossy panel on any day of the week. Having no glare and gaining ~4 hours of battery life is worth more to me than an (unnecessarily) high resolution.

At $899, I was expecting the 1080p screen to be a cheap TN panel, but it’s not! The colors are pretty vibrant and the horizontal and vertical viewing angles are wide. Adjusting the screen angle produces minimal color shifts. With the default scaling to 150% DPI, text is sharp and easy to read. Overall, this is a much, much better panel than that of the MacBook Air’s – I’m absolutely impressed at what you get for this price.

Also, I’ll note that the screen tilts back at a farther angle than the previous model. Standing and using the XPS 13 is comfortable.

+Touchpad:
Most Windows PC touchpads are not so great but Dell has cooperated with Microsoft to make their “Precision” track pad for the XPS 13. Basically, the responsiveness is very close to the MacBook track pads and I haven’t experienced any errant cursor jumps while typing. Coming from a Mac, I got situated pretty easily – the only thing I miss are the touch gestures of OS X.

Pressing on the track pad actuates a rather loud click and the left and right buttons are marked by a painted line. I use tap to click on all track pads so the noise isn’t an issue for me. This is much better than the track pad on the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard cover. The XPS 13’s track pad has less friction and is bigger compared to the coarsely textured track pad of the SP3’s cover. The XPS 13’s track pad is thus much easier to use.

+Keyboard:
Speaking of typing, the keys offer decent travel for the thickness of the machine. I’d say the key travel is similar to the Macbook Air models but slightly shorter. The keyboard is definitely full sized despite the XPS’s compactness and I got used to it very quickly. I’d be pretty satisfied with this keyboard for long periods of work.

The top function rows are inversed – meaning if you press f1 you will mute the volume instead actually activating f1. The f1 key is activated by pressing fn + f1 and so on for f2, f3… I consider this a nice touch that saves time when wanting to adjust basic functions like display and keyboard brightness. However, if you wish to inverse this behavior, just press fn + esc to set the function keys as default.

+Performance:
My Core i5, 4 GB RAM, and 128 SSD model performs perfectly. I’ve not experienced any hiccups or crashes. I mainly use the XPS 13 for MATLAB, CAD through remote desktop connection, MS Office suite, and general internet and email browsing. I also watch the occasional YouTube video but I don’t play any 3D games.

Compared to my Surface Pro 3 (Core i3, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB SSD), the XPS 13 is smoother in every day operation. The Surface Pro 3 suffers from throttling with the Core i5, i7 models so I opted for the lower end Core i3. The Core i3 SP3 unfortunately stutters from time to time and 1080p YouTube videos are slightly choppy. With this experience in mind and the fact that Broadwell only offers at most a 10% performance increase over Haswell, I would steer clear of the Core i3 XPS 13. The $100 upgrade to a Core i5 is a must if you want absolutely smooth performance.

There are people who clamor for 8 GB or 16 GB RAM minimum, but in my experience, you don’t really benefit unless you are doing rendering or other heavy workloads. There is a point of diminishing returns with RAM and this is another debate for another day. For my tasks on a laptop, 4 GB is more than enough. I’ll leave the heavy lifting to a workstation PC.

On a side note, the Intel HD 5500 is capable of driving a 3840 x 2160 (4K) display at 60 Hz through DP 1.2.

+Heat & Noise:
Heat is very minimal even when watching 1080p YouTube videos. While doing lighter tasks like writing this review, I’ve noticed no heat from the palm rest area or upper keyboard deck. Because the lack of heat, the fans have stayed off for the majority of the time I’ve used the XPS 13.

Also, I can report that there is no coil whine for those who used the previous model.

+Battery:
Battery life has been stellar so far. I couldn’t kill the battery in a day with light tasks. Dell rates the battery for the 1080p model at 15 hours but I’d say a more realistic number would be around 11-12 hours. Your mileage may vary of course. I’ll update this section with more usage details and numbers after a week or so.

Update: After 3 weeks of using the XPS 13, I can confidently say the battery life lasts at least 10 hours for moderate usage. I define my moderate usage as using 5+ web pages open with multiple PDFs, Word docs and Excel sheets open at the same time. I can easily get 10 hours using the XPS 13 to code on MATLAB while having reference documents open. To get the 15 hours Dell claims, you would have to be doing light tasks like word processing or browsing the web with a few tabs open while having brightness at 20-30%. For those light tasks, I can easily get 12 hours. I usually always use 50% screen brightness.

+Price:
I believe the 1080p model has the most value of any model. Compared to the MacBook Air 13″, this $899 model has more bang for the buck because of the better screen and smaller size. I would say their battery life are similar but remember that the XPS 13 is driving a higher resolution display at 1920 x 1080 vs. 1440 x 900.

I bought my XPS 13 at the Microsoft Store and used the 10% education discount. On top of this, you can text MSSTORE to 295-02 to get a 4.5% off coupon for any purchase. Basically, I got about $130 off which is a steal. Dell also has $100 coupons (just Google “Dell Coupons”) if you prefer to shop on their website.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Things I Don’t Like:

-Keyboard:
Backlighting only has 2 settings: high and low – not a big deal to me but may matter to some.

-Ports:
Only mini Display Port – you will need to carry a dongle around if you give presentations often. However, an SD card reader is included unlike last year’s model!

-Webcam:
The angle is awkward because you can see you fingers if you type while video conferencing.

-Ventilation:
Unfortunately, the XPS 13 has an air intake at the bottom. This means you shouldn’t use it on your carpet or bed if you want to avoid overheating. There is a ridge that helps raise the intake above the floor but I’m not a big fan of this design. I much prefer the MacBook Pro’s side intakes and back vents.
However, I think this should be fine for using on your lap – I’ll update this section in a week or so.

-Speakers:
These aren’t the loudest but serviceable for my tasks. They fire from the sides if that helps anyone.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Conclusion as of 1/19/15:

As an engineering student heading into the field and running a business on the side – I can whole-heartedly recommend the XPS 13 for anyone needing an ultra-mobile computing package. It’s small, it’s light, and the battery goes and goes.

I think Dell has really stepped up their game in manufacturing and design. Fit and finish are top notch and they refined the previous design by removing the thick bezels and increasing battery life. For me, the 2015 XPS 13 ticks all the right boxes because Dell nailed the core functionality (performance and battery life) and user experience(matte screen, good keyboard and track pad).
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Update 2/10/15:
After using the XPS 13 for 3 weeks, here are some of my thoughts:

+ I wish they made an extrusion at the front of the laptop so you can lift the screen up easily. Opening the lid is usually a 2 handed operation.
+ I haven’t had any overheating problems using this on my lap. I looked at the tear-down of the XPS 13 and there is 1 small fan positioned at the left edge of the underside vents so there is plenty of room for air to be sucked in thanks to the sheer size of the intake vents.
+ Under similar workloads, the XPS 13 is cooler than my Surface Pro 3 with Core i3. The excellent thermal management of the XPS 13 is well documented in notebookcheck.net if you want a more detailed review.
+ The exterior finish is free of scratches and dents. No wear of the carbon fiber deck or track pad.
– The track pad can sometimes get confused when you click on something and would register as a double click. This is disappointing because the multi-touch gestures work pretty well. I hope that Dell will release a firmware update for this. Fortunately, this happens only occasionally.
– The display has automatic dimming built in that you can’t disable. This is very hard to notice, but if you are looking for it, you will notice. Apparently, this helps increase the battery life by dynamically darkening or brightening the screen based on the colors displayed. This dimming is very gradual and isn’t noticeable during regular usage.

XPS 13 – 2015 – Signature Edition from Microsoft Store” – Robert Francis
Score: 5/5 Source: Amazon.com

Other reviewers have dealt with specs. I’d like to share more general impressions.

This machine strikes me as the most unusual, unexpected, and exciting development in the laptop market since the Macbook Air debuted in 2008 and perhaps before that when the Titanium G4 Powerbook appeared back in 2000. (A close runner up would be the X1 Carbon from Lenovo.)

There are several things about this computer that haven’t ceased to impress me from the time I brought it home a week ago.

I can’t overstate the pleasure of the “infinity display.” The effect is something like the vastly greater sense of immersion people felt when first using the iPad and its full-screen apps. But here it’s different. It’s not the full screen effect so much as a kind of “levitating” screen effect. It’s as though you’re staring at a screen and nothing else. There is no edge or border to it. When you expand an app to take up the whole screen, you see the app and nothing but a thin black line edging the screen—not quite “framing it,” but edging it. Everything looks punchier. Cleaner. More elegant.

The next most noticeable feature is the size and scale. Staring at the screen, I see that it’s bigger than other computers I’ve used—the surface, the 12.5” thinkpad yoga–but at the same time, it’s much smaller. It’s a strange optical illusion. I see more screen, but feel less computer on my lap or in my hands. Carrying it also feels so much lighter than the 13” Air or 12” thinkpads I’ve used.

I also really like the keyboard, and this too was a pleasant surprise. When I tried the display model at the Microsoft Store, I found the keyboard distractingly shallow. It was almost a deal-breaker for me. Many of the reviews complained about the shallowness of the travel but said it isn’t as bad as the keyboards on macbook airs or pros (which are very shallow). Despite being sensitive to this detail, I thought I’d take a chance and just buy the machine and return it if I didn’t like it.

I may have ended up with a great specimen, by luck, but I suspect not. In any case, the keyboard is fantastic—and oddly enough, it’s one of my favourite features. The travel is not as deep as it is on a thinkpad, but as I discovered here, it’s the quality of the travel that matters. (I know I’m getting very geeky here!) I think in this case it has to do with the nature of the materials used in the XPS, the seating, the casing, etc – whatever it is, the keys have a really satisfying springiness and clack to them, such that even though they don’t travel far, they feel great to type on. The backlighting is a nice touch too, though I’m disappointed to see that the lights don’t stay on (even when plugged in). It would be nice if they did, but it’s not fatal.

There has also been some discussion in the forums about the adaptive brightness issue with the screen. This is certainly an issue, and I would prefer that the screen didn’t have this odd quirk. But given how many other things they got absolutely right with this machine – and how unique it is – I’m prepared to overlook this. It’s also not bad enough to be all that distracting. It’s noticeable, but slight.

I have the 4gig, 128 model, with matte screen. If I could pay another $100 or two to have 8 gigs of ram, I might think about it. But so far, 4 hasn’t been an issue. (I use it only for typing, email, and light surfing.) Even if it were an issue, though, I’d be reluctant to return the model I happen to have, because I’m inclined to think I got an especially good one and wouldn’t want to take my chances…

If you appreciate good design and true innovation in tech, check this out. It’s a genuinely new experience as far as laptops go—and pictures don’t do it justice. The changes here are slight in theory but significant in practice. It’s a gem of a computer. Kuddos to the designers and engineers.

beautifully designed, but flawed and buggy” – pjs
Score: 3/5 Source: Amazon.com

The laptop is beautifully designed, has great specs, and is a good value. If all went well, this would be the ideal laptop. I switched from Mac just because of this model. But the fan is absurdly loud. It runs virtually non-stop, even when the laptop is not used for CPU intensive purposes. (It’s louder than my desktop fan.) The touchpad is overly sensitive, jerky, intermittent, and sometimes non-responsive. The battery life isn’t anywhere close to the advertised duration. The keyboard is nice, but oftentimes doubles a pressed key (e.g. two letters instead of just one). Maybe future generations of this laptop will have these issues resolved. In the meantime, though, these design flaws really undermine the full potential of this product.

UPDATE 4/1/15

Dell replaced the laptop, and the replacement is much better. The trackpad is solid, and the keyboard is much sturdier. The keys still sometimes double up, but less frequently. The fan was screaming out of the box, but a BIOS update seems to have calmed it significantly. So, it seems that Dell are working out the kinks. I will post a further update once I’ve had more time with the new machine.

UPDATE 4/29/15

The fan noise appears to be fixed. The BIOS update helped, and you can further control it with the power management settings. It hasn’t been a problem for me in weeks.

The remaining weak spots are the trackpad and keyboard. The trackpad is much better than on the first generation model but still nowhere close to Apple’s: it’s jerky, not as precise as the name “precision trackpad” would suggest, and if you rest your thumb on it by accident, it doesn’t respond when you try to control the pointer with your other finger, whereas the Mac trackpad is smart enough to overlook the resting thumb. Maybe future driver updates will fix this. The keyboard seems too sensitive, and doubles up many of the keys. I type fast and press the keys pretty hard, but I’ve used hundreds of keyboards in my life, and I’ve never had this problem before, so I don’t think the fault is entirely mine. I suspect future generations of the keyboard will have this resolved, too.

Other than that, this laptop is a beauty. If it weren’t for these remaining imperfections with the keyboard and trackpad, I’d give it 5 starts.

The laptop that finally switched me back to Windows” – Y. Zhou
Score: 5/5 Source: Amazon.com

I have been using Macbooks for the last 5 years as my main laptop preference. I have tried Windows laptops over the years but never really found one that I preferred over a MacBook. I was running with the MacBook Air 13″ 2014 before buying this, but have used the pro and retina models as well. Here is a pros/cons and comparison to my old MacBook.

I bought the i5, 4gb, 128gb, and 1080p model.

PROS:

– Lightweight. It’s a little thicker than my MacBook Air but it’s smaller in width and length.
– Screen. A lot better than the TN panel on the Air. Viewing angles are great! Very bright screen. I like that it’s a matte over glossy but that’s a personal preference.
– Bezels. The bezels just makes everything look sexy about this laptop. I changed the Windows theme to black to match the laptop.
– Battery Life seems decent. Not as much as my Air’s but it gets me through the day. I’m estimating about 8-10 hours or realistic usage.
– Charger Power Brick. Dell seemed to have copied Apple’s MacBook charger. They made the charger so that you can directly plug the power brick into the outlet. I always like this feature on the MacBook chargers so that I don’t have to lug around an extra wire with me along with the brick. Just seems more simpler this way. They also give you a wire if you’re used to that. They also have a light at the tip of the charger so you know where it is in the dark.
– Sound. For a laptop this size, the sound is surprisingly loud. Speakers are on the left and right side of the laptop. Don’t expect quality audio though.
– Keyboard. Some people complain that there’s flex in the keyboard. I didn’t really notice any.
– Price. When Dell first introduced this laptop with the thin bezels, I thought they would jack up the price unreasonably high for early adopters. When they announced that it was starting at $799, I was really surprised. There is definitely a premium to pay for the touchscreen and higher res models. Be warned: the higher res touchscreen models will noticeably reduce your battery life.

CONS:

– Microphone. I had a Skype chat but it was hard for the other person to hear what I say. He said my voice went in and out and was inconsistent.
– Trackpad. Coming from a MacBook, I may be spoiled by their trackpad. This one just can’t compare. The XPS’s was decent for a Windows trackpad though. Two finger scrolling jumps around a lot making me miss things on webpages.
– Opening the lid. There is no real place for you to put your finger under to open up the laptop. It’s almost always a 2 handed operation. It only requires 1 finger to open up pretty much every MacBook built after 2009.
– Connectivity. The only video output it has is a mini-displayport. I can’t really blame them due to the small size but I rather take an HDMI port.
Comparison to Macbooks:
– Much cheaper.
– Build quality is slightly below a MacBook (small keyboard flex), but more stylish.
– Louder speakers
– Better screen than non-retina macbooks
– More portable than most Macbooks
– Worse trackpad, worse lid mechanism, worse battery,

CONCLUSION:
Despite the cons, this is the best laptop in the market for the price. I do not think the premium higher res models are worth it though. If you’re a long time Windows user, this laptop is the best portable option out there that provides a complete package. If you’re coming from a MacBook, I wouldn’t say this laptop is a huge upgrade, so it really depends on your OS preference. I chose to go back to windows mainly because of its compatibility with games.

A very nice ultrabook spoiled by a wonky trackpad” – Jeff2468
Score: 3/5 Source: Amazon.com

I really wanted to like the new XPS 13 1080P non-touchscreen model that I tried with Windows 8. The computer is sleek and light, had a very nice screen and a very usable keyboard for a computer this thin and light. I had all day battery life and liked that the media keys were the default rather than requiring the use the fn key, which is reversible in the BIOS if you prefer. Backlit keyboard was well done. The 256GB solid state drive I ordered was very fast and boot times were only a few seconds. The wireless 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual Band 2.4 & 5GHz, 2×2 radio was very slow and short range on 2.4GHz, half the speed and significantly less range than my old VAIO on 2.4GHz, but the 5GHz radio was as fast as my VAIOs 2.4 GHz with a little less range providing approximately 50Mbps+ down and 25Mbps+ up. I have an old Belkin dual band router with Comcast cable and was therefore unable to test the AC radio.

Unfortunately I was unable to live with the trackpad which has known issues. Dell already posted a firmware update that I flashed which improved the trackpad a little but it was still too wonky for me. The cursor doesn’t react until I move my finger a mm or so and then jumps past where I want to be if I am trying for just a small movement. In addition, the cursor often jumps off the button or location I am trying to select when removing my finger from the trackpad. Palm rejection when typing seems non-existent with touch select for the trackpad turned on in PC settings and still unacceptable when touch select is turned off. The cursor is very sensitive to location on buttons and doesn’t recognize a button unless exactly centered on the button. Also, there are only a few multi-touch features available on this “precision touchpad,” it doesn’t have the option to swipe for forward or backwards on websites or recognize 3 or 4 finger gestures. The home button requires holding the fn key to go to the top of the page. Because of these trackpad deficiencies I returned the computer to Dell yesterday. I don’t know how many stars to give, if it weren’t for the trackpad I would give this computer 4 or 4.5 stars, for me personally it is unusable and therefore 1 star.

Un-upgradable RAM” – Roda Ruus
Score: 4/5 Source: Amazon.com

Almost perfect computer in any way BUT for some reason the DELL people decided to make it almost completely un-upgradable
you can upgrade the SSD drive ( you need to take all computer apart in order to do so – but still – it’s doable)
but you CANT upgrade your RAM.
So if you buy it with 4gb it will stay forever this way.
There is no expansion slots for it.
And initial RAM is build in on the motherboard.
Review from a Computer Science Major (Student)” – kindle fire
Score: 4/5 Source: Amazon.com

I ordered the UltraSharp QHD (3200 x 1800 resolution), 8gigs of Ram, Core i7 version of this beautiful laptop with Windows 8 Pro (over $1600).
I sold my 13” Macbook Air (2014 edition) for this and I can honestly say I’m satisfied.
But before I sold it, I tested both of them first to see if I truly loved it. First noticeable differences…- Speakers: The Dell is definitely louder than the Macbook Air. Granted, at full volume, the speakers’ sounded a little statically so it’s best it on a littler lower setting.- Screen: Soooooo much better than the Macbook Air. And the brightness is better too. I have this device on 20% brightness whenever I’m at a coffee shop doing my assignments. I do get a little bit of glare from the ceiling lights, but you can angle the screen more than the Macbook Air by a good extra degrees.

– Body: I love the fact that it’s carbon fiber inside and it doesn’t get cold like my Macbook Air. I can open this and rest my palms on it right away so I can start working (my house is usually 60 degrees). The aluminum is darker than the Macbook Air by a few shades sort of like a lead color on a piece of white paper. This weighs lighter but only a few grams. If both of them are laid out on the table, the Dell is slightly taller than the Macbook but the body is smaller like the Macbook 11” Air. The compact design is great.

– Keyboard: The backlight only has three modes: High, low, off. I usually have it on low and the backlight will switch itself off if left untyped after a few seconds (to conserve battery). Since the inner body is all black, the backlight keyboard gives off a nice glow. Typing on it is good. It did take a bit of a learning curve to get use to typing on a compact size. I don’t have thick fingers so if you have man hands then it might be a problem.

– TrackPad: It’s alright. I got to admit, I do miss the Macbook trackpad a lot on this area. It does have some of the features but I find myself struggling to have some reaction to it whenever I touch it. I later discovered that the finger should be placed directly in the middle if you want to scroll or pinch.

– Performance: It may vary depending on what is loaded in your computer and the CPU/RAM that is installed. Since I got the highest end model, so far no hiccups or lags whenever I load in my program. I use Firefox as my browser so it works great on this laptop. But I am concern about how much RAM it takes up whenever I’m using it… This could take away battery life.

– Battery: I was informed that 15 hours battery life is possible on this laptop, 12 hours if it’s the touch screen and QHD model (which I have). I don’t know if it’s my Core i7, or my antivirus (BitDefender) constantly running in the background along with my Firefox, but on average I get about 7-8 hours of battery life. I had to get the Dell battery companion just so I can get 2-3 more hours out of it. So together, basically 9-10 hours average. The Macbook Air is better at this topic, I got 10-12 hours without a battery companion so I will miss that a little. I usually stay at a coffee shop for 8 hours when I’m doing my assignments so don’t worry about finding an outlet if this is you.

Overall, great purchase. I was hesitant at first since this is an expensive laptop. But once I got used to it, I let go my Macbook Air go. There is one thing I will miss about Macbook the most…. Opening it with one hand. When opening the Dell, there’s no lip for the fingers to grasp on. I usually have to open this laptop vertically with my thumb grasping each plate. It’s not much of a struggle but gosh… I will miss that the most.

Good ultrabook with some trade-offs (vs ThinkPad X1 Carbon)” – The GOAT
Score: 4/5 Source: Amazon.com

I bought the new Dell XPS 13 despite having always preferred ThinkPads (mainly because of the quality keyboards and “UltraNav” dual trackpad and pointer). I decided to go with the Dell because of the innovative packaging and the lower price. The Dell was about $300 less than a comparable, and bigger, ThinkPad X1 Carbon (14″). I originally lamented the lack of an i7 option, which was available on the ThinkPad (for even more money). Now I think the i5 is sufficient, and it appears Dell plans to offer an i7 XPS 13. I’m not convinced I made the right choice yet, but so far the good outweighs the bad.

First, my system specs. I decided on the base model matte FHD (1920×1080) display because of better battery life and the fact that I hate touch screens. (I don’t want to see finger smudges while I’m trying to work.) I got an i5 5200U (which runs 2.2GHz) with 8GB RAM and the 256GB SSD. The dell product page gives most of the necessary info:
http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-13-9343-laptop/pd?ref=PD_OC

Full specs can be downloaded here (which shows an i7 option):
http://downloads.dell.com/Manuals/all-products/esuprt_laptop/esuprt_xps_laptop/xps-13-9343-laptop_Reference%20Guide_en-us.pdf

Before the good, is the awesome… the physical design, size, weight, and screen. The new XPS is gorgeous. It looks like a little MacBook, and that’s not a bad thing. The exterior, both top and bottom, is real aluminum, not painted plastic. It’s not flimsy either; about 1.5mm thick all the way around the edge. There’s also blessedly little clutter and stickers. There’s an “Intel inside CORE i5” sticker on the palm rest and that’s it. The bottom has a magnetic, spring-loaded metal latch that covers the mandatory government info. There’s a single, long vent that runs along the bottom and eight exposed screws (more on those later). I’ll include a picture of the bottom since there isn’t one on the Dell website.

The size and weight are self-explanatory from the specs, but you really have to see this next to other laptops to appreciate it. My former ThinkPad X300 was the smallest laptop I’d used prior to this. The XPS 13 makes that ThinkPad (Lenovo’s first response to the MacBook Air) look clunky. The screen is only 4mm thick. The front edge is also 4mm, although the bottom angles away so the laptop is actually 15mm thick at the front (and 20mm at the rear). Dell’s specs are smaller, but I suspect they’re ignoring the rubber pads on the bottom.

The screen is the other bright spot for the Dell. The comparable ThinkPad (1920×1080) comes with a TN display, rather than an IPS panel like the XPS 13. Even at 40% brightness on battery power, the screen is great at every angle. I don’t know why someone would pay extra for the QHD+ (3200×1800) display, especially since Windows and many software programs do not scale well. If you’re the type who insists on 20 mega pixel cameras to post pictures to Facebook, you probably don’t mind spending extra (money and battery life) for “the best,” but the FHD display is plenty good. (If you want a touch screen, you have to go with a QHD+ screen… and a heavier laptop.)

Other goodness that surprised me include Dell’s customer support, the relative lack of bloatware, battery life, and the speed/silence of the hardware. I had issues with the website, but each time I wrote an e-mail, I was promptly contacted by customer support and they resolved the problem. They even sent me recovery media (on an 8GB USB3 flash drive). It’s not the factory image my XPS 13 came with, but it gives you a clean version of Windows 8.1 with only two installed programs (Dell Rescue and Recovery and My Dell), and no drivers… a great option for DIY-types.

While Lenovo is having some issues with Malware, Dell has surprisingly little pre-installed software (based on my previous experience). Sadly, one of those is McAfee. I wish Dell offered an option to exclude this. Instead, you get a choice of 12 months or 36 months (for an extra charge). It can be removed, but you have to go to the McAfee website to download an uninstaller. Here’s a list of all the pre-installed software (not including drivers):

– Dell Applications:
— MyDell (PC Doctor)
— Dell Backup and Recovery
— Dell Data Services
— Dell Digital Delivery
— Dell Foundation Services
— Dell Product Registration
— Dell Update
– Dropbox
– McAfee LiveSafe (with 12 month subscription)
– Microsoft Office 2013 (which you have to pay for if you want to use it)

The Backup and Recovery software can be used to create factory restore DVDs (needs two DVDs), but that’s about it. It constantly bugs you to pay for an upgrade, which can be used to create images and manage software backups (all of which Windows can do anyway). The benefit (I guess) is that you can store your images and backups on Dell servers. I’m not sure it uninstalls cleanly, because I’ve seen the icon appear on the system tray.

There are a lot of people complaining that battery life on the XPS 13 doesn’t match the advertised 15 hours. I don’t think they read the fine print. Dell says the 15 hours is for web browsing on the FHD display at 40% brightness. I haven’t sat at the computer for 15 straight hours, but I think that number is pretty close. I did read a review that showed only 6 hours of battery life, but that was playing HD video. BTW, the Dell has a higher capacity battery than the larger ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

One of the first things I noticed was the eerie silence when I first booted up the XPS 13. The i5 doesn’t even break a sweat in day-to-day computing (Word, Excel, web, etc.). I’ve only heard the cooling fan turn on once in two weeks and even then, it wasn’t very loud. That includes several factory restores as I played with installing and uninstalling various things.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine with the XPS. The operating system and keyboard make for daily frustration. The XPS 13 only comes with Windows 8.1. You can still get a ThinkPad with Windows 7, but you have to pay $50 extra. I wish there was a way to disable the Metro interface and all the associated worthless apps. I have “Classic Start Menu” and can almost exclusively stay on the desktop, but every now and then an app will load and I have to use Task Manager to kill those memory hogs. Another annoyance is the lack of DVD or Blu-ray capability. I know Microsoft has to pay for the licenses, but it was only about $2 for Windows 7 to play DVDs. I’m disappointed that Dell didn’t provide codecs, even if it was an optional charge. I would’ve paid to avoid a third-party player.

If you need your laptop for a lot of video chats, you may want to avoid the XPS 13. The cost of the fancy display is a bottom-left mounted camera. The people on the other end will mainly see your left hand, and when that’s not in the way, they’ll get a good view up your nostrils. Fortunately, I don’t need the camera so it’s not a big deal to me.

Another annoyance is the lack of a “stereo mix” record option. I’m not sure if that’s Windows 8.1, or Dell modifying the RealTek driver options. I used to use “stereo mix” to capture sound bites on my old computer (RealTek HD audio codec), but the only option on the XPS 13 is microphone. The system uses an I2S controller and RealTek HW audio codec. I couldn’t find a standalone driver from RealTek.

I definitely miss my UltraNav pointing stick, which serves for both scrolling and cursor movement on a ThinkPad. It allows you to work much more efficiently, without having to take your hands off the keyboard. I can almost deal with not having a pointing stick, but the Dell keyboard is horrible compared to a ThinkPad keyboard. It’s not nearly as tactile or smooth, but the design itself is what drives me nuts. The compromises for the smaller size seem to be from designers who don’t actually use keyboards. The lack of dedicated scroll keys (Home, End, PgUp, PgDn) definitely slows down my productivity.

Another issue with the XPS 13 is the lack of a true port replicator. Dell offers a USB port replicator, but that’s not as elegant as the ThinkPad solution (which uses a single connector to the laptop). I use my XPS 13 as a desktop replacement, but I have to connect three cables: power, USB and mini-DP (both to my Dell U2415 monitor). That also means I can’t turn on my computer without opening the screen, which then changes my display resolution.

One more positive note for the Dell… maybe, because I won’t know for sure for two or three years. Those exposed screws on the bottom of the XPS 13 mean it’s somewhat easy to open up and replace the battery. The folks at ifixit.com go through all the stops to completely disassemble the XPS 13 and they conclude it’s reasonably easy to work on for such a small laptop. I’m hoping Dell makes batteries available whenever it comes time to replace mine.

After all that, should you get an XPS 13? That depends on your priorities. A friend of mine insists on a 17″ screen for his “laptop.” Unless you’re an NBA player, that’s not really a laptop. Portability was key for me even though I use this as my daily computer. If your time away from a real keyboard is limited, the XPS 13 is definitely the way to go. Ask me again in a few months if I ever get over the frustrating keyboard.

Dell XPS 13 with Infinity Display (2015)” – THOR’S HAMMER
Score: 5/5 Source: Amazon.com

It’s been roughly 3 years since I’ve last upgraded my laptop, which is long overdue considering the progressive leap in technology in recent years. My main criteria for my next laptop consists of:

– Portable thin and light (3 lb or less)
– Stylish design, not boxy
– At least 1080p screen resolution
– 4GB of ram minimum (prefer 8GB)

Of course, most of the things listed above can be found in most ultrabooks these days. However, it is Dell’s latest model that really shined in this year’s CES show in Las Vegas.

Screen

First thing anyone’s going to notice from this laptop is it’s stunning, nearly bezel-free Infinity Display. Notably, this is not the UltraSharp Quad HD 3200 x 1800 resolution model featured on the higher specced variation. Despite this, the 1080p display still retains the thin, thin 5mm border and sleek form factor and very impressive bright viewing angles. More importantly, I was able to see noticeable improvements in battery life over the higher resolution counterpart.

Design

The XPS 13 is comprised of high quality materials like the aluminum lid and carbon-fiber palm rest. Despite being under 3 lbs, the laptop was still considerably solid, with virtually no flex to the keyboard. Speaking of which, the keyboard is chiclet styled with the much appreciated backlight. Another appreciated feature: there is a battery indicator light located on the left

The large clickpad-style touchpad is similar to what’s been used on many other high-end systems. It works fine for basic navigating and tapping or clicking. Since there’s no touchscreen here, this is important.

Processor

This is one of the very first 2015 laptop models to feature Intel’s latest 5th gen. Broadwell Core i5 (5200U) processors. I saw a considerable boost in speed, responsiveness, and multitasking prowess in most mainstream tasks, like Microsoft Office, HD Twitch streaming, Photoshop, and iTunes. The sluggishness experienced on the Core M variant chips are absent here, thankfully.

No Like:

– Webcam is relocated to the bottom left portion of the display due to the thin bezel
– No touchscreen feature for this model
– Only 2 USB 3.0 ports (none of the new USB standard)
– Display port instead of dedicated HDMI port
– Built-in speakers are a bit tinny at higher volume levels (common among many Ultrabooks)
– Only 128 GB SSD and 4GB ram for this model
– Only one color choice available so far

Overall, I still find this to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing and good performance portable laptop of early 2015. Recommended!