back to article Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Having been in the hardware reviewing game for more years than I care to mention - cue the violins - I have looked at a huge number of notebooks claiming to be both thin and light. From the days when thin meant something less than half an inch in thickness and light meant something around the 2kg mark if you were lucky, I've sat …

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Anonymous Coward

Crap resolution, glossy screen, stupid price

Not needing to go any further

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...not enough sockets...

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Re: Crap resolution, glossy screen, stupid price

Yes 900p is absolute minimum for a 13" panel in 2012. And once again Dell misses the opportunity to demonstrate its really quite easy to avoid forever playing catchup with the MacBook line. Perhaps its a supply problem, if so long past time for Dell to simplify laptop lineup and use its buying power.

To be fair USB 3.0 is a plus point.

A short shelf-life product, no reason to buy. Dell only have a few months to build a sensible machine for Windows 8 to replace this embarassment of a PC.

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Maybe it is just me but in a business environment, business computers connect using LAN still, wireless is for visitors and people skiving off using their mobiles to read the news.

I am sure my Sales Director wouldn't mind the shiny thing to put on meeting room tables but would keep crossing these off due to simple requirements. VGA/DVI breakout would be nice too for connecting to alien projectors.

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure what the issue is - I use a Macbook Air and at work connect to the Apple Thunderbolt display which has Gigabit Ethernet on board or if I had to connect 'wired' somewhere else think I paid about £15-20 for the Apple USB Ethernet adapter.

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Lack of options

For the price tag attached, I'd much rather become a fruity fanboi - even Apple understood that resolution is king when people pay this much for a computer today. Not having an SD card reader is just rubbing it in; the only thing going for the Dell is its USB 3 port.

Though personally, I'm waiting for the retina display in the next-gen Air.

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Trollface

Re: Lack of options

"... I'd much rather become a fruity fanboi ..."

"Though personally, I'm waiting for the retina display in the next-gen Air."

Become one, you say?

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Anonymous Coward

£1299 when the smaller (but same res) version from Apple is £999 - good luck selling these copies when the Apple one (which can of course run Windows just fine) is £300 cheaper.

Apple must have done some mega deal on buying components.

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"Apple must have done some mega deal on buying components."

They do. It costs them less to buy the parts for an iPad than it does their competitors the parts for a rival machine. For some components, they buy a significant fraction of the world's output. Tim Cook knew his previous job very, very well.

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To be fair

That £1299 (representing the top spec XP13) buys you an i7 with 256GB ssd and 4GB. A similar MacBook Air with an i5 processor but slightly higher screen res has a list price of £1349.

It's still a ridiculous amount of money though. Shove a 500GB hybrid drive into them instead and it would knock several hundred of the price straight off.

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Oh goodness yes

Apple basically make five laptops. Five basic shells, five port layouts, four screen sizes. Three transformer models, three keyboard layouts, all closely related in construction to the desktop keyboard range. I think only one trackpad size? Nobody else does this.

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Anonymous Coward

"VGA/DVI breakout would be nice too for connecting to alien projectors."

With the Macbook Air you can get a simple adapter for the Thunderbolt port (which is Mini DisplayPort compatible) to convert to VGA / DVI etc. - expect Dell do the same.

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can't have it both ways

agreed. If it has mini display port, then it will have analogue/VGA connectivity.

One of the big benefits over an HDMI connector.

So the reviewer seems to want it both ways.

There are still a hell of a lot of VGA type things I want to plug my laptop into , so mini display port seems the way to go to me.

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Anonymous Coward

If I had to buy today it would be the Macbook Air for the reasons others have mentioned - let alone being CHEAPER. In reality I would try and wait as if the new Macbook Air (probably due within a few months) do have better screens it will be a killer feature - something around 1920x1080 (or 1200) on a 11-13" screen would be fantastic.

If they pull of the same trick as with the new iPad and offer the better screen for the same price as the old model it would be fantastic value.

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WTF?

Why the hell would you need 1920x1080 on such a small screen? Still think that your glasses are not thick enough?

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Compare the specs of the £999 Macbook Air to this top end XPS 13 and see if you are comparing like with like. Dell has an XPS 13 retailing for £949 which would be closer for comparison purposes.

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Alien

some of us have good eyesight and find large telly tubby fonts / icons annoyingly wasteful.

Roll on retina high-res displays thank you very much!

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Poor resolution

Resolution: 1366x768

Stopped reading right there!

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Anonymous Coward

"the only thing going for the Dell is its USB 3 port."

I expect the new Macbook Air may go USB 3 (would almost be daft not to) and remember it also has Thunderbolt which is really better still (albeit more expensive).

As others have commented the resolution is key - at least the Apple does this res. on an 11" screen and better on their 13" screen and their Macbook Air is probably a year old design now. It's a wonder they took so long to copy it - a bit of carbon-wotsit and magnesium-the-other is not hiding the fact it's yet-another-clone that they did not even make better OR cheaper!

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WTF?

wtf?

1299 on a laptop with just integrated graphics? not to mention the max resolution, are we going back in times now ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: wtf?

What amazes me is how Apple manage to actually be significantly cheaper - basically this compares to the 11" Macbook Air yet it is about £920 from Amazon (£999 from Apple at RRP). Yes that model has 128Gb SSD whereas this has 256Gb but it's almost £400 cheaper - CHEAPER.

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Re: wtf?

Good enough for what I do and very portable with pretty long battery life.

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Gimp

Re: why Apple is cheaper

No Windows tax.

Just think with Office you'd have about 200 pixels to do any decent work after all the Ribbon and assorted border cruft is taken off of the meagre 768 height.

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Anonymous Coward

What strikes me is you buy this type of machine for it to be very portable I'm not saying it's overly heavy but it's 1.4kg which is almost 40% heavier than the 11" macbook air. So pros and cons time:

Pros:

It has a 256Gb SSD

Faster CPU.

It has a USB 3 port

Ships with Windows 7 (or is that a con?!)

Cons:

It's bigger and 40% heavier (for the same screen resolution)

No Thunderbolt port

New MacBook Airs are rumoured and may have significantly better screens and USB 3

It's 30-40% more expensive

3-5 hours battery seems 'light'

Can't run OS X (Macbook can run both)

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Not very often you see people talking about Apple as being the budget / value brand. But all these ultrabooks are such ridiculous prices. I'd love to get an ultrabook, but i'm not paying £400 more for something from Dell when i can get the same thing from Apple for that much less.

Macbook Air + iPad for the wifes xmas present for the same price as a Dell ultrabook. Dell are having a laugh.

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A spec comparable MacBook Air still costs more money. That isn't to say these ultrabooks are cheap because they aren't. In fact they seem cynically priced to undercut the Air but only by a little amount ensuring nice fat profits.

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Anonymous Coward

Or maybe the Apple Air is actually pretty reasonably priced (as the iPad) and the others can't actually beat the price or by much. Point in question - 16Gb Xoob 2 £329 and 16Gb iPad 2 £329...!

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"Or maybe the Apple Air is actually pretty reasonably priced"

Er no. The bill of materials for these products is well described and it leaves a nice fat margin of profit. An ultrabook retails for nearly double what it costs to make.

PC (and tablet) manufacturers could undercut the Apple product significantly more but they are capitalising on general consumer ignorance to keep their prices high. Perhaps that works for Apple but I would hope that other manufacturers would offer better value. At the moment they aren't.

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It might cost more money for a similar spec Macbook Air, but if i was out shopping for a Macbook Air / Ultrabook™ it would be because i want something with the right image, and the right size/weight. if i have the choice of a macbook air vs a dell that looks a lot like it but costs a lot more, I know where my money would go.

Do i need 256Gb of SSD in a device that is for portability? No.

Do i need it to sing, dance & play top games? No.

The spec increases found in the more expensive models dont make enough of a difference to general use portable computing to warrant an extra £400 investment.

That extra £400 could buy me, for example, a new garden shed, in which to sit away from the irritations of family family life, and enjoy the new computer.

Or, the whole £1200 could just be spent on an iPad for me, one for the wife, and one for my eldest daughter. In fact, if you opted for the iPad2 you could nearly buy 4 of them. I could then mount them all on a wall and display the feeds from my 4 cctv cameras on them and make my garage feel like a wartime command bunker. Actually, lets be honest, this is an awesome idea.

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You are comparing the top of the line XPS 13 to the entry level Air. If you click on the link in the article you will see they sell a £949 model which is roughly comparable in specs to the Air.

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Anonymous Coward

>> and the same price as the Air (well the 11" is £849 to £999).

The comparison was based on screen resolution - the 13" 'Air' has a better resolution that this 'top of the line XPS 13' - whereas it's the same as the 11". So it's about the same price as the 13" Air (but poorer resolution) or save yourself a few hundred quid and get the more portable and lighter 11" Air.

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FAIL

Step backwards from Dell

This is mentalist pricing from Dell. Okay, they'll discount it, but Dell must surely recognise it is playing catch-up and fighting for its life. No Ethernet, no HDMI, no SD card, 1366 x 768, glossy? You must be joking. This thing is a bit thinner, but I bought an i5-2430 Vostro v131 with Ethernet, HDMI, SD card (still annoying it juts out a bit), same resolution but matt and better battery life with a three year on-site warranty for less than £400. My guess is this i7 will run so hot you won't even even be able to use it on your lap.

This pricing and specification reminds me of Xerox on the long road to Chapter 11: "Oh, we're a much bigger brand than HP'; 'We're only £200 more expensive', 'Who wants scaleable fonts or PCL V?', 'We have a superior salesforce', 'We own the corporate market' etc. etc. Dell needs to compete incredibly aggressively on price and specification in the laptop market or they are dead, but, like Xerox, the US-Marketing buzzword bingo speak will probably get in the way until it is too late. Dell needs to be better and cheaper than Apple to succeed and this is more expensive and worse (or certainly not better). The Microsoft tax will probably kill Dell in any case but this looks like suicide.

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Anonymous Coward

For that price

I'd expect an external DVD/Blu ray burner thrown in.

Ultrabooks are a con.

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No SD!

For crying out loud! Users will have to keep a tiny microSD>USB gubbin on their keyring. Or use their phone as a Mass Storage microUSB reader. That's it, my cheapo phone can do things this won't : D

Light laptop > easy travel > travel > camera > SD card

MicroSD cards are alright, but they really need to made in a garish day-glo coloured plastic, to make them easier to spot when fumbled onto the ground.

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Re: No SD!

My camera uses CF cards, So what use is a SD Card Reader for me?

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Re: No SD!

"My camera uses CF cards, So what use is a SD Card Reader for me?"

Search google for 'SD to CF adaptor'. They can be had for around a fiver, and you'll save loads on the price difference between SD and Compact Flash, not to mention the convenience of SD.

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It still runs Windows...

Alright, then I will opt for the $400 model.

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Re: It still runs Windows...

There is nothing wrong with Windows, at least Windows 7.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It still runs Windows...

What $400 model - did you mean $400 saving perhaps?

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Re: It still runs Windows...

I think he's saying the user experience of the OS is the same so why pay more.

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Well, at least it's less of a copy of a macbook air than the lenovo offering.

But I still won't be buying one....

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Trollface

Meh!

From a Joe Bloggs POV... I'll have the £300 refurbished Dell cheers and spend the other £900 on a holiday.

Ok it's heavy but I'll just man up and carry it, and when Mr Exec is getting stabbed in the neck by a junky after his shiny toy I'll beat them to death with mine, buy a new one and still be £600 up.

Petrol's too damn expensive now to buy a £1200 toy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meh!

Get a bike.

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Re: Meh!

If I failed to beat off the junky with my 17" refurbished Dell and got stabbed, it'l do good duty as my gravestone -it's the the right size, shape and weight!

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Anonymous Coward

"Macbook Air + iPad for the wifes xmas present for the same price as a Dell ultrabook. Dell are having a laugh."

Good point. The spec on the Dell is slightly better but it does not make it a better machine - you would have to need 256Gb SSD (instead of 128Gb) and it may be a bit faster but for this type of machine I would rather the Macbook Air and it's better battery life.

I'm pretty sure the 11" Macbook Air is going to be the best seller - you buy this type of device for it's portability and I would rather have £300-400 (or an iPad) and save 30-40% on the weight as well.

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Anonymous Coward

>> There is nothing wrong with Windows, at least Windows 7.

Who said there was - touchy?

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Is it just me

...or are all of these things sounding like exactly the same thing with a different logo stuck on the front? Must make it easy for hardware reviewers... Just a few checkboxes:

__ 1366 x 768 glossy screen

__ SSD

__ Not so great battery life

__ Very thin

__ Alumin(i)um (at least on the cover)

__ Ridiculous price

__ Not much room for expansion/peripherals

Congratulations! It's yet another "Ultrabook"

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Re: Is it just me

There are only so many ways to make a very thin laptop. The use of a light, stiff material, a smaller battery and an SSD are hard to avoid.

Dolphins look like sharks because they are both responding to the same constraints, not because they are copying each other.

But yeah, on your point about the screen, I agree completely. Here at least is room for manufacturers to distinguish themselves...

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Bleh

I have no idea who or why Ultrabooks even exist. They can't compete with lighttweight tablets. They are only viable as thin limited machinery - and their pricetags are lunacy at play.

If you take even midrange laptop kit - its better spec, better gear, and less limited. Yes, it weighs a bit more but I don't flippin care. When kit starts to be looks alone and half of its function is gone and the price is quadrupled - its a wankpad.

People are better off with a decent PC and a cheap tablet. I don't even know anyone who has even considered an Ultrabook.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bleh

You are clearly not the target market - I have to carry a laptop out to see clients, home each evening and use it as my desktop in the office. The size and weight of my Macbook Air (11") make a huge difference - it's about half the weight of the previous laptop I used and plenty fast enough to run OS X and Windows 7 in a VM.

It does carry a slight premium compared to budget Windows laptops but for something I use at least 8 hours a day and have to carry - the good battery life, small size and light weight are worth far more.

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