Let’s face it. Apple has had the best looking notebooks out there for a while now. Every non-Apple laptop user we have come across has told us the same story, they wish the Windows laptops looked as good as the Macs. Dell tried to bridge that gap with the Adamo series, but they priced themselves out of the market. No one was willing to pay over $2K for a Windows laptop. It looks like they took all their lessons learned with the Adamo fiasco and put it into the XPS 13 Ultrabook.
Right out of the box it’s clear Dell is trying to make a statement with the new XPS 13. We are suckers for carbon fiber and Dell’s judicious use of the material at the bottom of the laptop just makes it look damn good. It is pretty light too and comes in at just under 3 lbs. So in the looks department, the XPS 13 is a winner. Let us see how it stacks up in the usability and performance departments.
The XPS 13 comes with the 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and a 128GB or 256GB SSD (solid state hard drive) and we found it to be more than sufficient for general computing activities. It was quite responsive navigating through Windows, surfing the web, playing videos and listening to music. The speakers were also quite good considering it is an Ultrabook. You definitely won’t need to carry your mini-speakers around. What was disappointing was the display. There is only one option and the maximum resolution is 1366 x 768 and we feel Dell dropped the ball here (in addition to leaving out a memory card reader). For a machine that looks as good as this with the performance to boot, they really should have bumped up the resolution. In comparison the Mac Book Air comes with 1440 x 900 and the Asus Zenbook UX31 comes with a fantastic 1600 x 900 display. It is unclear why Dell held back but the cost is probably the reason. New features like a Mac type trackpad have also been introduced and we would like to say that it works well but at times it felt like it had a mind of its own. Battery life was also respectable and we got close to 6 hours on a complete charge.
All things considered, the Dell XPS 13 is a good deal in the sub-$1000 range. There is definitely room for improvement but for now it is probably the best looking Windows Ultrabook out there (we also love the look of the Acer Aspire S3).
The pricing for the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook in India was just announced. It will be available at Dell exclusive stores, large format retail stores and partners nationwide at a starting price of Rs. 79,900 excluding taxes. This puts it in the same league as the HP Folio (starting at Rs. 69,990) and Mac Book Air (starting at Rs. 65,500).