It could really be tasking these days to make a perfect selection of a portable laptop in the category of design and cost. Although it is still quite agreeable that sentimental age-long favorites ( an example of the aforementioned class is the 13-inch MacBook Air) still hold on to their place fairly as reasonably cool general-purpose laptops. But then we won’t deny that with passing time, as the months coagulate into years, their features slack at maintaining pace with the times and innovations. Today, we have slick hybrids, the kind of the Lenovo Yoga 900 presenting themselves slim yet powerful; making a strong point at the tablet game. Although there is that itchy plug-in of extra cost should you insist on the privilege of folding the screen; folding it extensively back.
The situation is thick as we have buyers struggling to arrive at a decisive choice between design, price and even features. A seeming wiser choice is focusing on two out of those three; hoping to combine all three is almost ambitious. But then last year,we saw the Dell XPS 13 coming close to hitting it all, ticking all cool options with the perfectly suiting formula last year, presenting an attractive, not too obvious screen bezel, as well as commendable power, coming at a sub-$1,000 for a starting price (particularly for the US). But one vital feature was missing: the touch screen. And this sadly happened to be a mandatory feature for a premium Windows laptop (though touchscreen model that come at a greater cost have improved battery life).
In spite of this, we have the XPS 13 climbing steadily into position of one of our outstanding 13-inch class laptops, and then the latest 15-inch version (which had the name of XPS 15 quite naturally) made a solid impression with its indigenous minimal bezel and large screen.
Abandoning the culture of attempting to squeeze out features so as to arrive at an improved conventional price, the most recent version of the XPS 13 adopts an approach we can classify fairly as more premium. The processor is a current-gen Intel Core i7, running a combo with 8GB of RAM as well as the added presence of a large 256GB of solid-state storage. The touchscreen display is really commendable as it brings on board a very high 3,200×1,800-pixel native resolution, and not changing that particular narrow bezel (Dell tags this one the Infinity Display) which spectacularly separated last year’s original into an elite category of its own. This one brings update to Graphics too, also bringing in the Intel Iris GPU, which we could say is not the most suitable considering having a discrete graphics card from AMD or Nvidia, but then it is a big climb up from standard laptop fare.
In finality, to make the point of excellence more established as to all the upgrades and premium features, now the aluminum outer shell is gold-colored. And the price is not out of place either as it comes on top of the XPS 13, pipped at $1,649.
DELL XPS 13 (GOLD EDITION)
PC CPU 2.2Ghz Intel Core i7-6560U
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Price as reviewed $1,649
Display size/resolution 13-inch 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
PC memory 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Graphics 540
Storage 256GB SSD
GOING INTO REVIEW PROPER
The outstanding sellout- point here is the gold chassis. But then in frank honesty, it is gold-ish, which is not typically bright. Though we will add here that it is not the first instance where we get to see a laptop of this kind. We seem to have come to the reality of seeing gold hues as an option in the LG Gram and Apple MacBook. Though it is true that not many laptops present this option, it doesn’t remove the truth that a break from the conventional gray/silver is a relief in itself. Only that we shouldn’t expect too much of this.
We move past colour, this updated gold edition is no much different from the original. Yet it is has not stopped being a wedge-shaped laptop presenting a wide touchpad and and an elaborate keyboard, which is not too conservative with connections and ports. Also fresh on the block is the USB-C port, which the user could use for data and video, but of course not power (though many systems such as the Razer Blade Stealth and the 12-inch Apple MacBook are spectacular at using USB-C for power).
Sharing as similarity to the original XPS 13. This system presents a footprint which is relatively small– though a lot of this could be traced down to the absence of a thick border around the display. So then, the final result is that the XPS 13 presents dimensions smaller than that of a Lenovo Yoga 900 or MacBook Air with the weight not differing much between these devices as the XP 13 updated comes at that very 2.8 pounds (1.27kg) in this case. The reality of this is that the XPS 13 now has this feel of being a bit heavy on hand. Well this is quite understandable if you reason that you are stuffing the same weight into a smaller volume of space. In addition to this, latest lightweight laptops such as the Lenovo LaVie and Razer Blade Stealth have made many users expecting less of laptop weight.
When we come to the keyboard, it is safe to say the keyboard is well in front of what its contemporaries like the 12-inch MacBook, LaVie, as well as other laptops which are super-slim. This time, the XP13 brings a deep click which I find particularly satisfying and then strong backlight with full-size versions of the tab, shift as well as other important keys. Well to say, the touchpad isn’t bad sized, but just as we see in the original XPS 13 as well as the recent XPS 15, we have a floating quality which I don’t really find cool. Making use of a two-finger scroll too many a time though accidentally is interpreted by the device as a pinch-to-zoom request, as such the pad itself moves kind of without reason under your finger before it actually gets to register a click — this eventually makes precise tapping not too easy at times.
The excellent screen is a worthy compensation, however. The 3,200×1,800 resolution is not far at all from 4K, to suitably fill in most high-res needs, and then as we see the display going nearly to the edge of the outer shell, it is particularly spectacular. There is that noticeable excellence in touch response, and then the bright image doesn’t really wash out, not even from side angles either.
We have not seen it this fast before
A lot of close-range laptops we have ran tests on, have a 6500U processor or current-gen Intel Core i7-6200U (the “U” here tells you it is a low-voltage chip using less power, but then we can’t say it is as quick as the CPUs in larger laptops). The high-end Dell ups its game to Core i7-6560U, this contributes largely to usurping the dominance of Razer Blade Stealth, even the latest MacBook amongst many other laptops in our performance tests.
Coming down to battery life, it was above my expectation, yet it was not too excellent. The new gold XPS 13 lasted for 6 hours, 12 minutes when we took it through our streaming video battery test, though this is a passmark, you wouldn’t say it is a distinction. If you remember we told you the Lenovo Yoga Y900 ran for about an additional two hours longer, and then the MacBook Air for almost an extra four hours. You will agree that a very high-res screen always solidly affects the battery life. So best have a 1,920×1,080 display in mind should you intend to use the laptop for the full day.
To finally draw the line, The XPS 13 line keeps its place as one of our leading choices when it comes to a 13-inch laptop. Lot of this boils down to its striking display, and a generally solid design added to an impressive set of high-powered features coming at quite a fair price. We see the new-for-2016 update offering tweaks both inside (Iris graphics, newer CPUs, ) as well as outside (the stylish-looking gold color), but then super-premium price introduces complexity here as lot of people are going to find it quite difficult to buy considering that a lot of wonderful laptops sharing category with the XP13 range between $1,000 to $1,200 or thereabout.