Over the past few years, a flurry of two-in-one devices have made their way onto the market hoping to catch your attention. Sure, there are devices out there that either looks great, perform amazingly, have an excellent battery life, or feel comfortable to use. Rarely do you see a device that embodies all these attributes. Then you have devices that are not only laptops, but also tablets, but rarely do you see one of those two attributes perfected.
Yes, Microsoft has the Surface Book, but it’s not perfect (yet). I enjoyed using the Surface Book when it was released, but plagued with several important issues, the device has yet to be perfected — which I know Microsoft will do eventually, I have that confidence in the company. Unfortunately, the Surface Book currently lacks the “it” factor.
Along comes the Dell XPS 13 (2016 edition). This simple laptop embodies the attributes of the perfect Windows-powered laptop without any gimmicks or compromises. In fact, you will feel like you are using a quality laptop with a premium and polished experience.
Right off the bat, the design of the XPS 13 is truly impressive and elegant. Similar to the XPS 13 (2015 edition), this new refreshed version for 2016 is just as beautiful with updated internal components. I felt like I was looking and holding a work of art in my hands. The device features machined aluminum carbon fiber and hardened Corning Gorilla Glass for better durability and just an overall superb experience.
It weighs 2.9 pounds and it doesn’t have that plastic feel to it like some smaller laptops do. Instead, the XPS 13 feels like a small, well-designed laptop in a slim frame (9 to 15mm). It has an interesting shape to it when you have the display flush with the keyboard — it sort of slants upwards but it’s not a big deal. Unlike the Surface Book, there is no ugly gap between the display and the keyboard.
Just like the 2015 model, the 2016 model features an amazing 13.3-inch display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 in an 11-inch form factor. This is the key selling point of the XPS 13. Dell managed to squeeze every inch of space on the device to fit the 13.3-inch screen, offering a virtually borderless InfinityEdge display with only a 5.2mm bezel around the screen. How cool is that? You are literally immersed into the content you are viewing thanks to the borderless display.
Visual clarity of the screen is also impressive — the UltraSharp Quad HD+ display has amazing viewing angles, high color gamut, and high contrast ratio offering a crisp and clear picture. The screen doesn’t fold back all the way, so you can’t carry around the XPS 13 like a Surface Book or two-in-one device, but that’s sort of the point. This isn’t a two-in-one device that tries to offer too much in a small package. Instead, this is a well-crafted laptop that sticks to and perfects the basics.
The keyboard is backlit and has a mere 1.3mm travel, making it a comfortable and quiet experience when typing away an email or writing a blog post. The trackpad features seamless glass integrated buttons — and it is quite responsive. The carbon fiber palm rest made it super comfortable when typing away.
Battery life on the XPS 13 is touted at an impressive 18 hours, which is truly amazing. During my review phase of the device, I averaged between 15 to 16 hours of battery life with normal usage (web surfing, watching YouTube, writing emails, and drafting this review). The device is compatible with an accessory called the Dell Power Companion, which offers an additional 10 hours of battery life, for those of you who travel or plan to use the device for extended periods. The awesome part about this accessory is that you can quickly charge it back up using your power adapter, so it acts like a power reserve allowing you to get more work done without having to worry about your device shutting off on you.
The XPS 13 features an Intel Skylake processor and an Intel HD Graphics 520 chip, allowing for amazing performance while opening and closing apps — multitasking is also lag free. Don’t expect to play Crysis or GTAV on max settings though — these small laptops were not designed for these tasks anyway. I was able to have several apps running, all while having several tabs open in Microsoft Edge without experiencing any sort of lag or delay. I truly felt like I was on my desktop PC.
Windows 10 comes pre-installed on the device and it performs amazingly well. The device boots up within seconds and features a nice 720p webcam at the bottom left of the device. Unfortunately, does not feature Windows Hello support so you won’t be able to sign onto the device using facial recognition.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]XPS 13 is the most environmentally responsible laptop Dell offers[/pullquote]
According to Dell, the XPS 13 was designed with the environment in mind, making it one of the “greenest” laptops ever built. “XPS laptops are designed with smarter materials, by avoiding materials of concern including cadmium, lead, hexavalent chromium, mercury, some phthalates, and they are all BFR/PVC-free. All XPS notebooks ship in recyclable, compost-friendly packaging, including our highly renewable bamboo trays, and we offer options to responsibly recycle your old product through our reconnect partnerships. With a presence in 78 countries, Dell has the widest reach of free consumer take-back offering in the industry with consumer drop off in over 2400 Goodwill locations in North America. Without exception, all XPS notebooks are ENERGY STAR qualified and anticipated EPEAT Gold registered,” Dell explains.
I appreciate Dell paying close attention to detail with the XPS 13’s modern two-tone look and a satisfying click when pressing down on the trackpad. Dell even added a small aluminum flap at the bottom of the device that covers up all the ugly yet mandatory FCC stickers. The Dell logo appears backwards when you are facing the laptop in it’s closed position, but once you open the display up, the Dell logo is front-and-center to the person across from you — letting them know you are using a Dell.
The Dell XPS 13 is by far one of the best Windows laptops I’ve used. The screen is impressive, the size of the device is just right, the build quality is excellent, the keyboard and trackpad function comfortably and work well, and the performance of the machine is superb. I have to hand it to Dell on this one — they have done a fantastic job with this device.
If you are in the market for a well-built laptop that runs Windows 10, the Dell XPS 13 is device for you. You can opt for the non-touch device, which is considerably cheaper and definitely a powerhouse machine with a 1080p display. Or you can opt for the touch-screen model, which is nearly twice the price, but features a better display and allows you to utilize your fingers on the screen.
The laptop starts at $1,449.99 for the touch-screen model and $799 for the non-touch-screen model. You can check it out here on Dell’s website.
What do you think about the Dell XPS 13? Have you found your perfect laptop yet?Further reading: Dell, Microsoft, Windows 10, XPS 13