Dell XPS 13 2019 evaluation: Small and mighty, now with a correct webcam

Valentina Palladino

Dell gave its XPS laptop computer an overhaul final yr, however 2019 is all about refinement. Announced at CES, this yr’s XPS 13 laptop computer appears largely the identical because the 2018 mannequin, however it has just a few new and improved options that try and proper a few of the wrongs of the earlier technology.

The “wrong” that we have harped on probably the most because the XPS line arrived was its up-nose webcam. That unusual webcam placement grew to become a mainstay on the XPS 13 for years—even when different Dell laptops did not have it. Finally, Dell has achieved away with that and managed to stay a custom-made, minuscule webcam inside the highest, thread-thin bezel of the XPS 13’s show.

Those who do not use laptop computer webcams might roll their eyes at this transformation, however it’s an necessary one to name out particularly when discussing Dell’s latest version of its flagship laptop computer. With that change and others, Dell is hoping it has created a near-perfect Ultrabook. But how shut has the corporate truly gotten to reaching that objective?

Look and really feel

We’ll talk about the brand new webcam and its location in a bit—however first, let’s check out the largely unchanged exterior of the XPS 13. We reviewed the brand new alpine-white mannequin with a frost-colored lid, which options the identical woven fiberglass palm relaxation as final yr’s mannequin. The gadget additionally is available in a black carbon-fiber mannequin and a brand new white mannequin with a rose-gold lid.

However, all fashions have the identical basic design. Most hanging is the palm-rest space that has an virtually basket-weave sample to it. The texture of it’s most pronounced on the white fashions, giving it a nice tactile really feel that is simply easy sufficient to not interrupt your each day use of the machine.

Specs at a look: Dell XPS 13 laptop computer (2019)

Worst
Best
As reviewed
Screen
13.Three-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Infinity Edge non-touch show
13.Three-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) Infinity Edge touchscreen
13.Three-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) Infinity Edge touchscreen
OS
Windows 10 Home, 64 bit
CPU
Intel Core i3-8145U
Intel Core i7-8565U
Intel Core i7-8565U
RAM
4GB LPDDR3
16GB LPDDR3
16GB LPDDR3
HDD
128GB PCIe SSD
2TB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
GPU
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Networking
Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth four.1
Ports
2 Thunderbolt Three ports (PowerShare DC-In, DisplayPort, four lanes of PCI Express Gen Three), 1 USB Type C Three.1 port (PowerShare DC-In, DisplayPort), headset jack, Noble lock slot, microSD card slot
Size
11.9 x 7.eight x zero.46 in (302 x 199 x 11.6 mm)
Weight
2.7 kilos
Battery
52Whr
Warranty
1 yr
Price
$899
$2,309
$1,709
Other perks
Fingerprint sensor on energy button, 4 mics (Cortana use), Dell Cinema (Color, Sound, Stream), Dolby Vision help

Dell might use satin metallic finishes on the lid of the XPS 13 (like so many OEMs are doing now), however I respect the understated flare that the woven fiberglass provides the XPS 13. It’s distinctive to Dell’s premium line, and it prevents the machine from wanting like simply one other steel slab. I am nonetheless a bit cautious concerning the alpine-white fashions, as a result of they could possibly be prone to grime and dirt over time. But Dell nonetheless outfitted these variations with stain-resistant coatings that ought to forestall rising dinginess.

The XPS 13 shines with its show, largely due to the Infinity Edge bezels that encompass it. Dell shrank the aspect bezels to 4mm every, making them 23 p.c smaller than these on final yr’s laptop computer. The 16:9 side ratio will trouble those that hate scrolling, and even I’ve to confess it appears slim (that feeling comes after lately testing quite a few Ultrabooks with Three:2 aspect-ratio screens). That panel resolution might even be a dealbreaker for some, however it is going to swimsuit others who use their laptop computer as an leisure gadget (Dolby Vision help will make watching some films and TV reveals higher, too).

The 13.Three-inch show is available in FHD non-touch, FHD contact, and 4K touch-panel choices, offering customers some selection. Since that is the common XPS laptop computer somewhat than the XPS 13 two-in-one, a touchscreen is not mandatory for some customers. I hardly ever suppose to make use of a touchscreen once I’m engaged on a daily laptop computer, and a few like me will desire to avoid wasting a couple of bucks and go for the non-touch choice. Others, although, can select from a regular FHD touchscreen or a 4K panel with 100 p.c sRGB colour gamut. Our evaluation unit had the 4K touchscreen choice, and it appears simply as pretty as you’d count on.

The panels even have a 65 p.c anti-reflective coating on them, rising visibility at totally different angles. While it is not so good as the etched-glass anti-glare panels on HP’s new Elitebook, it helps you to view a lot of the display screen at totally different angles and even when it is uncovered to some daylight. I would not take the XPS 13 exterior on a brightly lit day to work, although, as staring on the display screen for hours would most likely damage your eyes.

That webcam, and connectivity

The show nonetheless has a large chin at its backside, however no less than the webcam now not blemishes that space. Only the Dell emblem sits in the midst of the underside bezel, whereas an impressively small HD webcam sits atop the display screen, embedded into the highest bezel.

Dell created its personal 2.25mm webcam for the brand new XPS 13: It has a four-element lens for elevated sharpness, lively alignment for higher focus, and temporal noise discount for improved video high quality even in low-light environments. I observed all of those results when utilizing the webcam, and I used to be notably impressed with the general sharpness of my feed throughout video chats. While it will not exchange an non-compulsory, connected webcam of upper high quality, it is going to serve those that want it for convention calls and video chats higher than most laptop computer webcams.

Many customers would not bat an eye fixed if Dell had determined to take away the webcam totally from the XPS 13. But doing so would not have been within the firm’s finest curiosity. Our laptops pull double-duty now greater than ever, appearing as private units all day, daily. Removing the webcam would have alienated an enormous group of customers who want a webcam for convention calls of their major transportable PC.

That’s why we repeatedly talked about the up-nose cam as a function that held the XPS 13 again. That sick placement was virtually as dangerous as eradicating the webcam totally, as a result of it made the webcam successfully ineffective for many who wanted it most. While those that solely use a webcam now and again to video chat with their faraway family members, the up-nose angle would not imply a lot (it could have even been a humorous speaking level). But for professionals who must put their finest face ahead (actually) in video conferences, they could not accomplish that on earlier variations of this laptop computer.

The new webcam alone elevates the brand new XPS 13, however Dell’s different small design adjustments do as nicely. At 2.7 kilos, the gadget is lighter general, and it primarily gives a 13.Three-inch show in a laptop computer with an 11-inch footprint. It feels smaller and lighter than most Ultrabooks I’ve used, and its distinctive aesthetic will attraction to many.

But with its slim body, the XPS 13 can be slim on connectivity (as many flagship Ultrabooks are in the present day). Its proper aspect holds one USB-C Three.1 port, one microSD card slot, and one headphone jack. The left aspect holds two Thunderbolt Three ports, a lock slot, and a helpful battery gauge. I nonetheless want Dell included one USB-A port, however the dimensions of the laptop computer make that merely unimaginable.