In-the-Trenches Review: Dell XPS 13 Touch

Lightweight, Classy, And Oh, That Display...

Dell XPS 13 Touch
My Dell XPS 13 Touch.

I've had my new Dell XPS 13 for about a month now, so it seemed like a good time for the first review. This is my main work laptop; I use it for all kinds of tasks, like writing these articles, writing fiction, Web surfing, social media and the like. If you'd like to learn about my particular criteria for choosing a laptop, click here.

Specs

I'll do regular reviews of this machine, so you can get a sense of how Windows computers age over time.

First, let's dive into the specs (you can find yours by doing this):

  • Dell XPS 13 Touch (Note that not every model in this line is touch-enabled; the sub-$1,000 models aren't)
  • 13.3-inch touchscreen
  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB solid-state drive (SSD)

Those are the basics. Another requirement not listed here was the backlit keyboard. I write at all times of the day or night, and being able to see the keys is crucial.

In terms of size and weight, the Dell is perfect for me. It's very light and portable, at 2.8 pounds; like many people, I tote my laptop around everywhere. It fits easily in a computer bag or backpack, and doesn't weigh me down.

I think it also looks great, but that's a very subjective thing. It's machined aluminum, with a not-too-big Dell logo. I prefer minimalist design, and this fits the bill. The keyboard and touchpad are jet black, and contrast well with the aluminum.

To Infinity and Beyond

Dell describes this as a "13.3-inch UltraSharp QHD+ (3200 x 1800) infinity touch display." Since the big selling point of this laptop is the screen, let's start with that. In a nutshell: It's beautiful. I've been a big fan of the Retina Display Mac laptops, and any Windows laptop I'd consider would need to at least equal that.

Well, this one does; in fact, it surpasses Retina resolution. As my eyes age, I need exceptionally sharp displays, and this one doesn't disappoint.

Without going into boring details about screen resolution, the important point to remember is that with  a screen this sharp, your eye can't make out individual pixels. You won't have that blockiness that can be found with lower-resolution displays.

The other thing Dell touts about the screen is its tiny bezel. With most laptops, there's a sizeable bezel, or border, around the display, which adds to the size and weight. With this, there's almost no bezel at all; almost everything you see is screen.

It's actually quite an interesting thing to experience. Dell calls it an "infinity touch" display, and although that's overblown marketing-speak, there is an element of truth. With such a small border, the screen doesn't feel boxed-in at all; the display blends into its surroundings more, which almost makes it feel like it expands into the environment. It's totally different from everything else out there; for me, that's a great thing.

I haven't used it in bright, direct sunlight yet; I'll report on that in future installments. Indoors, though, I haven't had the slightest issue seeing everything sharp and clear, even with a bright window behind me, for instance.

The screen has 10 brightness levels, which can be adjusted most conveniently via the F11 and F12 keys. It can get quite dark; dark enough for me to work in bed next to my wife while she sleeps.

The screen is touch-enabled, and thus far, it's worked flawlessly. It's made of Gorilla Glass, which is known for its quality and durability. It senses my fingers quickly, and I don't find myself having to stab the screen to get it to recognize that it's being touched.

I don't touch the screen that often yet. I tend to do that more with tablets. But it works great on this Dell.

A Perfect 10

If I were rating this display on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it full marks: it earns a perfect 10.

I have no complaints about it, nothing but praise.

In Part 2 of this review, I'll dive into things like the keyboard, touchpad and performance. Stay tuned.