Dell XPS 13 (2018) review : Solid built, extreme beauty and excellent performance

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Dell’s XPS range (which many don’t know actually stands for Xtreme Performance System) is known for offering a great mix of design and performance. In typical XPS fashion, the new XPS 13 design to a whole new level. It’s a thin and light laptop which Dell calls the smallest 13-inch laptop in the world. It has a starting weight of 1.21kg, about 19 hours of battery life (under certain conditions, for the FHD screen version) and is a stunner in every sense of the word.
The Rose Gold also has white bezels around the screen — compared to black bezels, they highlight the InfinityEdge display much more. It has an 80.7% screen-to-body ratio and bezels that are about 4mm thick. These are so slim that there’s no room for a webcam in the traditional place. We saw this in the older XPS 13 too. It’s not an ideal location for a webcam, that’s for sure. Some may even call it an unflattering angle because it’s looking up at you rather than directly at you. If you do a lot of video calling/chat, this is something you may want to consider.

This time around, the camera is Windows Hello certified, which means there’s also an infrared component. It looks like there are two lenses — combined, they can log you in securely using just your face as a password. Moving on, there are far field microphones (to control Cortana from across the room) and the trackpad is quite large for this size/weight of device. It has a premium clicking action and a smooth glass surface. The keyboard offers positive action, a nice feel. and there are two levels of white backlighting. On the left side of the laptop, you get a battery indicator: press a button and 5 LEDs can light up showing you remaining battery life at a glance. XPS laptops have had this for many years now. In terms of ports, the left side has a locking slot and two USB type C ports (one of them has a power sign next to it — for charging). The right side has a 3.5mm audio out, another USB type C with the DisplayPort logo and a micro SD card reader.

About the screen, you can choose from two versions: there’s a 1080p FHD non-touch while the higher end configuration (our test unit) has a 4K resolution display with touchscreen squeezed into this tiny frame. The top lid is just so thin that fitting a 4K display and touch layer into it is an impressive feat. Screen quality is excellent, with high viewing angles, high brightness, HDR capability and colours that pop. The 4K screen is better than the FHD version in not just resolution —it’s also brighter, has 100% sRGB colour, 1,500:1 contrast and 400-nits brightness.

In terms of performance, you really have a lot of power on tap, especially considering the top-spec 8th gen Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and fast SSD storage. It’s more than up to any task you set, including photo/ video editing, 3D and gaming. The screen you choose will affect battery life. The 4k screen gives you about 9 to 11 hours on a charge. Dell claims that the FHD screen is good for 17 to 19 hours on a charge with Word/ Excel use.

Some other highlights on this laptop are the GORE thermal insulation (it’s the first laptop with this feature – enhances cooling, directs heat outwards), a Support Assist section (hardware tests, optimisation and system info) and speakers that are way louder than expected (especially for a machine of this size/weight).

Price: Rs 97,990 (Core i5, FHD screen), Rs 1,45,990 (Core i7, FHD screen), Rs 1,64,990 (Core i7, UHD touchscreen)

Specifications: 8th Gen Intel Core i5/i7, 8/16GB DDR3 RAM, 256/512GB PCIe SSD, 13.3-inch IPS LCD (FHD or 4k touch options), Widescreen 720p HD webcam with Windows Hello, 4 Far field microphone array, Windows 10 Home, Bluetooth 4.1, WiFi ac, 1.21kg

Pros: Solidly built from single aluminium block, excellent craftsmanship & performance, stunning design, supports output to two 4k displays, 11 to 19 hrs battery life, screen uses Gorilla Glass 4

Ultimately, this XPS begs the question: just how much are you willing to pay for gorgeous design, premium materials and top-notch performance? If the answer is “a lot” then you’d best be looking at this machine in addition to the MacBook range.

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