Dell XPS 13

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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.

JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY-NI­CHOL­SON

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