Ultrabooks took the forefront at this year’s CES and Dell, one of the industry’s top guns, unveiled the Dell XPS 13 to us all. It’s got some catching up to do – after all, the Asus Zenbook UX31 and Toshiba Satellite Z830 have impressed us for some months now.
Luckily it seems more than a match for its Ultra-competition and some remarkable design choices instantly set this apart from others we’ve seen. With Intel, as ever, providing the latest Sandy Bridge performance specs, this could be the Ultrabook to tip the balance. The Dell XPS 13 we've been looking at is a pre-build model, so the full retail version could potentially vary slightly, but we'll keep you posted on that.
Dell XPS 13: Features
The Dell XPS 13’s aluminium chassis is jaw-droppingly attractive. Outwardly, it’s a smaller, thinner version of the Dell XPS 15z and the Dell XPS 14z – no bad thing. A curving silver shell measuring 7mm at its thinnest point and a barely-there weight of 1.4 means holding the XPS 13 is akin to holding a tablet.
Once you lift the lid and peer inside, the craftsmanship of the device becomes apparent. Unlike the silver interiors of rivals like the Acer Aspire S3, the XPS 13 is a rubberised jet black and devoid of stickers or markings.
Because of the thinness of the chassis the backlit chicklet keyboard, like other Ultrabooks, has a shallow travel. But spacing of the keys is well proportioned, as is the slightly curving design of the keys themselves.
Dell XPS 13: Screen
We had to marvel at the engineering of the screen on the Dell XPS 13. There’s almost no bezel around the edge, so the 13.3-inch screen seems like it’s sitting in an 11-inch laptop. The whole screen is made with tough Gorilla Glass and the 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is good enough to enjoy 720p high-definition movies.
Dell XPS 13: Performance
When you’re done admiring the outside of the Dell XPS 13, you’ll find the interior components just as pleasing. Sporting a quad-core Intel Core i7-2637M CPU, you get lightning quick response times and can comfortably multitask between a range of programs and web pages.
The Sandy bridge chip runs with an integrated Intel graphics card with about 1.5GB given over to shared video memory. Movie and photo editing shouldn’t be a problem, but games will be beyond this machine.
Dell XPS 13: Battery
Battery life is a key feature of the Ultrabook platform and the 6-cell battery built into the XPS 13 isn’t accessible to the likes of you and me. But, Dell claims it will run comfortably up to 8 hours, giving you an entire day at the office without needing the mains.
Dell XPS 13: Verdict
While we've only been able to get our hands on a pre-build version so far, the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook matches jaw-dropping design with characteristically strong performance. Although we would have liked a little more connectivity, there’s very little to fault with this device.
It differentiates itself from the competition with a head-turning design and keeps up an impressive battery life. The Gorilla Glass display is given room to shine thanks to a minimal bezel and we felt we could use it as much for work as for kicking back with a high-definition movie.
We feel this is easily one of the strongest Ultrabooks in the current line-up and a spectacular piece of engineering from Dell. We'll bring you more info as soon as we've had the final retail model on our test bench, as well as a confirmed retail price.
- Dell XPS 13 availability: March 2012
- Dell XPS 13 price: £TBC (estimates suggest £899)