dell-xps-13_9350_18

The Dell XPS 13 has been much talked about for its extraordinary compact size, for a 13-inch laptop, and the overall quality of its design and construction.It is a particularly good fit for business users, but consumers can also benefit from what it has to offer. In this review, we are testing the XPS 13 model 9350 which comes with the latest improvement from Intel, including a processor upgrade, and more stable Windows 10 drivers. Is the XPS 13 as good as it sounds?

Design

dell-xps-13_9350_23

Ever since this XPS 13 design came out, it was a hit with a lot of users. After all, what’s not to like: a 13.3” display in a body of a 12” laptop seems like a great idea for someone who is looking for a compact chassis, without the traditional downsides of the smaller real estate (= smaller display, trackpad, and keyboard).

From the outside, the Dell XPS 13 (model 9350) is very clean-looking. It is the quintessential business laptop, which looks durable and classy, thanks to its aluminum shell. It feels heavier than it looks, probably because of the more compact body. At 2.8 lbs, it is considered to be an ultra-light or, at least, a thin & light.

Although not the absolute thinnest, The XPS 13 can easily compete with laptops like the Lenovo YOGA 900. There’s a small difference which is partly due to the bump that the XPS 13 has in the back (to allow the air intake to function). In my opinion, a light weight is more important than thinness when it comes to real-world use – that’s what you need to focus on if you carry a laptop all the time.

dell-xps-13_9350_16The XPS 13 display doesn’t recline to 180 degrees (flat), and it will not turn into a tablet, but its smaller size helps it a little when used on a plane’s tray or in a packed conference room. In most “laptop situations” it’s perfectly fine.

Dell XPS 13 (top) and Lenovo Yoga 900 (bottom)

Dell XPS 13 (top) and Lenovo Yoga 900 (bottom)

I liked the smaller form-factor because it allowed me to carry this laptop in a smaller backpack which was just a little too small for a classic 13”. If I need to work in a crowded space (tradeshows like CES are the worst), like using a sling bag like the Maxpedition Lunada GearSlinger because I can quickly sling it in front of me so that I don’t inadvertently bump into someone.

When I go to places like MWC (Barcelona) where pickpockets are literally hunting journalists, it helps a little having my stuff in front of me. These sling bags tend to be just too small for regular 13.3” laptops, but your luck will vary with the brand. These are high-quality bags but were not designed for computer products.

I like that the XPS 13 isn’t prone to fingerprints or greasy hands in general. Both the aluminum shell and the soft-paint area around the keyboard and trackpad stay clean and non-slippery.

Ports

dell-xps-13_9350_13

There are two full-size USB 3.0 ports, and one USB-C (+thunderbolt) port. Additionally, there’s an SD card slow, along with 3.5mm audio connector. The power supply isn’t USB-C based, and there’s an Noble-Lock anti-theft attachment (Kensington locks would not fit).

This is pretty much all I need, and I’m just waiting for even more USB-C/Thunderbolt options to appear. I haven’t had a chance to test a Thunderbolt display with the XPS 13, but the USB-C docks are one of the most interesting things for “desk” work. Dell has some cool docks too.

This is pretty much all I need, and I’m just waiting for even more USB-C/Thunderbolt options to appear. I haven’t had a chance to test a Thunderbolt display with the XPS 13, but the USB-C docks are one of the most interesting things for “desk” work. Dell has some cool docks too.

Keyboard

dell-xps-13_9350_22

The Dell XPS 13 has a full-size keyboard, with keys that are about 20mm in diagonal, which is similar to other 13.3” laptops. When you see it for the first time, you may be tempted to think that the keys are smaller, but they are not.

Of course, the laptop key travel (how deep the key goes) is relatively short but remains within the norm for this category. I like the backlighting which makes keys clearly legible in a dark environment.

I typed some articles at CES with this laptop, and I’m pretty happy with the tactile feedback, although I would not “rave” about it. The MacBook Pro remains the reference for me (even though I’m a “PC guy”).

That said, I think that Dell can improve this in a couple of ways: I may suggest adding a very subtle curvature on the keys. Secondly, improving the tactile feedback would be nice – that’s pretty much all there is to a great keyboard.

Trackpad

dell-xps-13_9350_20

At 105x60mm, the trackpad of the Dell XPS 13 is even bigger than the YOGA 900’s. Again, the slightly more compact width and length of the chassis do not affect the usability, on the contrary! The glass trackpad feels smooth and nice, and the click travel is a bit shorter than other laptops I’ve tested, but I didn’t think it made a big difference in my usage.

Filed in Computers >Reviews. Read more about Dell, Dell Xps, Laptop Reviews, Laptops.

Related Articles on Ubergizmo