Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition Review – Looking to purchase a powerful, portable and attractive laptop? If so then Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition has to be the top Linux contender. It features a sleek design, a lightweight chassis and a revolutionary display that will force manufacturers to rethink how they build laptops.
The XPS 13 is built with a silvercoloured, machined aluminum exterior that’s similar to the MacBook Air in sheen and durability. This is an excellent material that, after a week of testing, showed no fingerprints, smudges or scratches. Dell built the palmrest and backlit chiclet keyboard’s casing in an exquisite carbon fiber composite that’s delightful to touch. Unlike some laptops, whose palmrest is built with the same material as the device’s plastic or aluminium exterior, the XPS’s palmrest doesn’t get overheated or sweaty.
The real marvel of the XPS 13 is its screen-to-panel ratio. You’re getting the screen of a 13.3-inch (338mm) laptop on an 11.9-inch (304mm) device. Dell was able to deliver a screen that covers 80% of the panel (11% more screen real estate than the 13-inch MacBook Air).
Dell was able to stretch the screen to within a few centimeters of the upper corners and to within an inch of the front panel’s bottom edge. This feature provides you with a cinematic viewing experience, and it makes touchscreen usage much more accommodating. The quad HD+ display also packs a 3,200×1,800 resolution display. Most 13-inch laptops don’t go beyond 1,920×1,080.
In addition to the boosted pixel performance, the XPS 13 doesn’t give off a ton of glare and has awesome viewing angles for easy group viewing.
There are only two downsides to the XPS 13’s marvellous screen: First, Dell had to situate the webcam on the lower left-hand side of the bezel; Second, for anyone who has young children, or for anyone who manhandles their devices, the XPS 13 isn’t meant to be grabbed from the upper corners of the panel. Generally size wise this is a tiny laptop, compared to the MacBook Air, Dell’s model is 0.8 inches shorter, one inch slimmer and 1.1 inches shallower. It’s also one of the lightest devices in the laptop market.
During our battery test the XPS 13’s battery lasted 4 hours and 21 minutes, which performs a wide range of tasks simultaneously with the screen on maximum brightness. With the screen down to a more typical 50% brightness we saw 7 hours and 40 minutes of video playback, which is more competitive especially considering the QHD+ resolution.
The XPS 13 comes with a cool-intheory battery gauge button, which sits on the left side of the base. When you press the button, you’ll see 0-5 lights, which indicate how much battery life is left. The problem with this feature is that it takes so much effort to find the tiny button, that you might be better off opening the device and checking battery-life on the screen. Another design flaw we’d like to see remedied next year is the XPS’s power button location. Right now, it’s dangerously close to the delete button. We suffered a few accidental presses that interrupted work. We also found the touchpad to be a touch sensitive, sending the cursor off to mysterious corners of the desktop or opening and closing browser windows.
The Dell XPS 13 is a brilliantly designed laptop that outperforms its competition under the hood, and the Infinity display will cause a ripple effect in laptop design that will dramatically improve how users experience their devices. Thankfully, the XPS 13 isn’t all beauty and no brains, and features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and just enough battery life to never leave you in the lurch.
Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition Specifications
- OS: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
- CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 5500
- RAM: 8GB DDR3
- Display: 3,200 x 1,800 UltraSharp QHD+ touch display
- HDD: 512GB SSD
- Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 1x mini DisplayPort, 3-in-1 (SD, SDHC, SDXC) reader
- Comms: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, HD webcam
- Size: 304x200x 15mm, 1.34kg