Dell XPS 13
Dell, from $1199 dell.com.au ★★★★
IN teen films, all a geeky girl must do to be cool is ditch her glasses and get a new haircut. The Dell XPS 13, then, has figuratively whipped off its spectacles and hired a wind machine.
This is a slick-looking Windows 7 laptop, delivered under Intel’s Ultrabook banner, that offers a slimline form and premium finishes any user would be proud to exhibit.
The outside of this 13-inch computer is attractive, with an aluminium lid and a carbon fibre base designed to keep it cool.
And it’s just as pretty under the hood, thanks to a backlit, island-style keyboard with retro styling, a non-slip material around its keyboard and a clickable glass touchpad (cue Apple Mac comparisons).
The better news is that this Ultrabook is a high achiever on the inside.
Dell promises more than eight hours’ use from its six-cell battery, a huge improvement on the netbook days.
The base model XPS 13 comes in at $199 over the original $1000 Ultrabook price goal, but offers plenty to appeal to travelling computer users, including a 1.6GHZ Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive.
Open as many windows as you can, and this machine appears to cope capably. It will even resume quickly after long periods in hibernation (with its lid closed).
High-end users can opt for more grunt, choosing a 256GB drive and an i7 processor for an extra $400.
Other additions include both USB 3.0 and 2.0 connections, and space for a Mini Displayport plug and headphones. But there’s no built-in Ethernet connection and camera users will have to bring their own card reader.
Also against it, the touchpad does not work as well as we had hoped, the vent underneath may not suit laptop users who actually use their laps and at 1.4kg, it’s not quite as light as some of its competitors.
But it is a capable and highly portable computer, and a deeply attractive effort.