Review

First impressions of the Dell XPS 13

Dell announced the updated XPS 13 at CES last month, and the buzz from the conference was high. While the specs and the design were well received, the thing that had everyone talking was the display. Touted as "Infinity Display," the 13" Ultrabook has the thinnest bezel seen in a laptop - a mere 5mm. There's a few different versions of the device, including one without touch, but I suspect most users will spring for the full-touch version because it sports the best resolution: 3200x1800.

Dell and Intel partnered up to provide Neowin with the XPS 13 to check out and review for our readers, so after spending a couple of hours with the device, I wanted to share my initial impressions before the full fledged review I have planned for March.

When taking the device out of the packaging, the first thing you'll notice is the size. This is clearly an Ultrabook and it's deceptive just how large a screen is waiting once you open the lid. The case itself is made out of aluminum and has a very premium feel to it.

After opening the lid, you're greeted with the much-hyped Infinity Display. It's named that because, unlike traditional laptops, the bezel on the XPS 13 is only around 5mm thick, giving the impression that the display goes on to infinity. When I first read about the display, I thought, "so what?" But after powering up the computer, it's clear that the screen isn't just hype: It's absolutely stunning. Add in touch capabilities to the 3200x1800 resolution, and you'll never want to go back to a regular touchless HD screen again.

In addition to the aluminum on the outside, the XPS 13 sports carbon fiber around the touchpad and it really looks and feels like a premium device. According to Dell, the carbon fiber isn't just for aesthetics either, as the material is light and helps users avoid feeling heat from the battery and CPU. After using the device for a couple of hours, I have to say that it did stay cool, but I was only surfing the web and writing this article, so we'll see how well it holds up during a longer review.

The chiclet-style keyboard is illuminated and easy to type on. It's not going to replace a high quality mechanical keyboard, but it's one of the nicest laptop keyboards I've had the pleasure of using. The only negative I found in my limited use was that there is no dedicated page up/down button; instead, you have to press the function key and the up/down arrow key. To get around the inconvenience, I just used the touch feature of the screen to rapidly scroll through webpages so I suspect I won't miss the dedicated keys as much as I first thought I would.

The build itself is very sturdy. The lid was very sturdy, even when I tried flexing it a bit, and the base also feels strong.

I didn't throw anything challenging at the machine yet, and I haven't had a chance to test the staggering 15 hour battery life claim, but I'll be sure to do that for the final review. If there are things you'd like to see specifically covered, let me know in the comments and I'll make sure to test it out. Until then, enjoy the pictures!

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