For years, the Dell XPS 13 was one of my go-to recommendations for a general-purpose slim Windows laptop. But it's shared equally well with HP, Acer and others. A handful of things being universally useful as it should have been. Over the years, the size and weight have fallen behind the competition, and the slim screen bezels led to some unflattering webcam compromises.
The 2019 version, however, is another story.
2019 Dell XPS 13. The rest does not look or feel as high-end as it should. The white backlight shining through white keys sometimes makes it harder to see the keys, not easier. And in order to get a touchscreen model, which is more expensive and not as battery-friendly.
Other than that, with this latest version of the XPS 13, Dell has almost done the impossible – it's a laptop. Since Dell has introduced ultrathin screen borders in its 2015 model (the XPS 13 has been around since 2012), the company has steadily been chipping away at my laundry list of complaints, making the XPS 13 smaller, lighter, more powerful. Thegot the size and weight down, and now for 2019, the most critical issue has been taken care of.
The nose job
The system's biggest knock has long been its webcam. Because of the very thin screen border (also called a bezel), the webcam has been relegated to a spot under the screen, rather than above it. Xbox 13 is less useful for Skype calls, YouTube videos or other video recording or streaming needs.
Dell has gone ahead and solved it. The new webcam somehow fits in that very slim top border, thanks to a new lens design that's only 2.5mm high.
Even a few initial test shots show that the angle is much more natural, and the image is clear and noise-free. Both video and photo out at 720p resolution, and if pressed, I'd prefer to see full 1.920×1.080 HD. XPS 13, the difference is clear.
A familiar path for plugs
If you're one of those people bothered by the rapid shift to USB-C in laptops at the expense of almost every other type of port, well, the tide does not look like it's turning back anytime soon. Three USB ports are doing all the heavy lifting, including power, but two of them are also Thunderbolt ports for hooking up high-speed peripherals.
There's still a microSD card slot, which is a rarity of some days. 128GB of SSD storage, so at least you can shoehorn into some more hard drive space. The MacBook Air has SD card slot, often used for the same reason. That, sadly, is no more.
The price is (mostly) right
If you were going to bid on this slim design with a high-end aluminum / carbon fiber body, multiple Thunderbolt ports, and nearly edge-to-edge screen showcase in a showcase , you could easily overbid. The new XPS 13 starts at $ 899, or $ 300 less than the base model MacBook Air ($ 1,119 at Amazon) . UK prices start at £ 939, and a higher $ 2,069 in Australia.
But keep in mind the entry-level model. The FHD (full HD, or 1.920×1.080) display is noun. The processor is a lower-end U-series Intel Core i3, and the 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD do not feel particularly future-proof, or even today-proof for some users.
It's an absolute no-brainer to kick in an extra $ 100 to get up-to-date Intel Core i5, which is the mainstream sweet spot. Upgrading to 8GB of RAM and 256GB hard drive is currently $ 1,209, making it a recent MacBook Air, and probably the best value configuration.