Regular dispatches from AccountingWEB gadget devotees including executive peripherals editor Nigel Harris, community correspondent Rachael Power, community manager Henry Osadzinski, and Accountants Power Tools' Kevin Salter.
Laptop review: Dell XPS 13
Henry Osadzinski assesses the claims of Dell’s XPS 13, one of the latest PC ultrabooks aiming to take on Apple’s MacBook Air.
The Ultrabook market is picking up and we’re beginning to see some excellent portable solutions to stand up to Apple’s ever-popular MacBook Air. Dell recently launched its first thin, super-portable, the XPS 13 which surprised us with both its polish and power.
Complying with Intel’s rigorous standards (you can’t call it an Ultrabook without the nod from the processor giant), the XPS 13 measures just 18mm at its thickest point and tapers down to 7mm along one edge. Weighing 1.4kg and crafted from an elegant combination of aluminium, rubber, plastic and glass, it’s a precision engineered piece of technology that has successfully eliminated any unnecessary bulk.
The real showstopper is its screen. Dell has managed to fit a 13in 1366 x 768 pixel resolution screen into a chassis normally more suited to an 11 inch laptop. The thin bezel strip around the display means that, when looking at the screen, there’s no wasted real estate. It’s also bright and sharp enough to stay visible in the flickering lights of a train and can cope with a reasonable amount of outside glare despite the glossy, fingerprint-magnet finish.
With a 256GB solid state drive and a speedy i7 processor, starting up the XPS took around 12 seconds. With such short a wait, I ended up turning it off rather than putting it into standby, partly just to show off to myself! It also handled every task required of it without any issues. Thanks to the ample 4GB of memory, there’s enough power under the covers to cope with any day-to-day tasks, including large spreadsheets and light video editing.
Sadly, the XPS 13 falters slightly when it comes to connectivity. Two USB slots (one of which supports USB 3.0), a headphone jack and DisplayPort left us wanting more after seeing the connections other Ultrabooks manage to pack in. Still, if this laptop is going to spend more time in your bag than sitting on a desk, it’s not a major issue.
For business travellers, the XPS 13 is a wonderfully portable solution that is powerful enough to handle most day-to-day tasks. You get a lot for your money with the £1,299 version (which we reviewed – a slightly lower spec £949 model is available) but it’s still very pricy for the sake of shaving off the size and weight.
You can only go so low when offering these kinds of specs, but competitors who have been in the market for a little longer are able to undercut this Ultrabook newcomer. This doesn’t mean Dell’s offering isn’t worth considering, especially with its strong history in the corporate market. If you can justify the extra money over models from Toshiba and Asus, the Dell is still an excellent machine that can handily compete when it comes to performance.