72 hours with the new Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13
Dell XPS 13 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Having been excited by it since that Tuesday announcement at CES in January, this past week saw me finally take possession of my very own, 2015 Dell XPS 13. It's getting a lot of attention, both press and consumer, and the minute you lay your eyes on it it's easy to see why. At the time of ordering, UK buyers were pretty restricted to which models were available, we had a choice of different spec Intel Core i7 versions and nothing more. It's got a little better, since, with the addition of an i5 model, but it's the i7 that I've got here.

Buy the Dell XPS 13, starting at $799.99

Our own Daniel Rubino has already talked about and used the non-touch, i5 model, but now we're moving on to the range topper. We'll have more coverage in the weeks to come, but before all of that, here's a few quick thoughts after 72 hours using it.

  • The QHD+ screen is gorgeous. Nothing else really needs to be said. It's sharp, it's bright, it's colourful, it's a joy to look at. There is some slight light bleed in places, though most of the time it's not really noticeable. And in truth, with bezels that slim, I was expecting to see a little.
  • Oh yeah, those bezels. Or lack of them. It's an unusual experience looking at a laptop screen without a giant border around it. But you soon get used to it.
  • The form factor is even better than I remember from our brief CES hands-on. Dell wasn't lying at all with the 13-inch notebook in an 11-inch form factor line.
  • And yet I think it's still more comfortable to use than a true 11-inch notebook. Obviously the display is bigger, which is a big part of it, but it just doesn't feel as small as it actually is.
  • The precision trackpad is excellent. I've long preferred Apple's trackpads, but this is damn close to that.
  • The webcam is awkward to use. Personally, I always use an external webcam, but being down there on the bottom left does produce some pretty unflattering angles.
  • Battery life is much better without running Google Chrome. We were never expecting the i7 model to get close to the lower spec models in this regard, but running Google Chrome took hours (plural) from it. Without it, using IE 11, I've been hovering around the 7 hour mark off charger with a fair bit of music playing and Photoshop usage thrown in there. Honestly, I'm happy enough with 7 hours. Compared to the 4 or less I've had from a previous, fruity laptop, it's great.
  • People will inevitably ask whether or not they should get this or a Surface Pro 3, and I'm not sure I can answer that just yet. But we'll certainly look at it closer in the coming weeks.
  • While I had little choice (at the time) but to choose the i7 model, for most people, I think the i5 will probably be the one to get. But I'd still recommend the QHD+ touchscreen if you can stretch to it. It's glorious.

So, that's just a few of my quick thoughts. I've not really been using it long enough to get into everything, but even after three days I'm very happy. Dell has produced a stand out design in a crowded market, and (so far at least) it looks like the product behind the design is worth owning. Both Daniel Rubino and myself have one of these models in our hands, so expect to see much more over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you've picked one up, are thinking about picking one up or just plain drooling, drop into the comments below and give us your thoughts!

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine