Users can’t be faulted should they mistakenly think they’ve been shipped a Mac when they first pull out the latest version of the XPS 15 from its box.
Of course the circular Dell
logo is there at the centre of the cover but there’s no denying that the machined aluminum shell of the laptop brings to mind the familiar design cues found in its clear rival the Apple MacBook
The XPS 15, however, definitely looks heftier than the MacBook. The Dell’s aluminum and magnesium body, its Corning Gorilla Glass display and built-in 9-cell Li-Polymer battery adds up to about 6.8 lbs. compared to the Mac’s 5.4 lbs. (with Retina display).
The Mac also outweighs the XPS in the price category. The entry level price tag of the Pro 15 is around $2,199 while the XPS 15 starts at $1,299.
Dell’s offering, meant for video editing, gaming and other creative tasks, comes packed with features to help it hold its own.
Once you get pass the slab-like design, the next thing that catches your attention is XPS 15’s lightning fast boot time. The accompanying product description promised the laptop “boots from cold” in up to 13.1 seconds for models with an mSATA solid state drive and 16.44 seconds for those using the 512 GB SSD.
The quad-core Intel Core i7 powered tester I was using was equipped with the 512 GB SSD and it was up in about 14 seconds.
Once up and running, you can’t help but be amazed by the crispness and clarity of its 15.6-inch 1920x1080 display that yields a pixel density of 141 dpi. The screen provided excellent brightness and contrast for watching videos, playing games and reading text on the machine. The screen, however, could not avoid showing some annoying reflections once taken outdoors.
The XPS 15 opens up to reveal a large multi-touch click pad that is very useful for and responsive to gesture such as two-finger scrolling which comes in handy once you realize that you’re now working with Microsoft’s touch-enhanced Windows 8 operating system. The keyboard provides good feedback and the bright backlighting is a welcome feature when you’re typing in dimly lit conference rooms or on your bed at night.
Video-out ports including HDM, DisplayPort Outputs and three USB 3.0 ports are on the left side of the machine. The right side, houses the optical drive which is a Blu-ray player/DVD burner combo, SD card reader slot, headphones and mic jacks.
The laptop runs silent and reasonably cool while the two 2-watt speakers provide clear sounds reproduction.
The laptop's battery is built-in and is not user-replaceable. It ran for up to five hours when the machine was used for video playback and had enough juice for about six and a half when the machine was used for light Web surfing and typing.