Dell’s new XPS 13 laptops are thin, light, and generally a lot smaller than you’d expect a notebook with a 13.3 inch display to be. That’s because the bezel around the screen is just 5.2mm, allowing Dell to fit a 13.3 inch screen into a laptop the size of a normal 11.6 inch notebook.
At the same time, Dell is dropping the starting price by hundreds of dollars. Laptops that wear the Dell XPS 13 name have always been premium products, and in the past prices have tended to run $1000 or more. But the new 2015 models with Intel Broadwell processors will start at just $799.
But not all Dell XPS 13 models are created equal. The company will actually offer two different versions… and for some folks, the cheaper model actually might be the more attractive option.
That’s because the model with a $799 starting price has a matte, non-touchscreen display and up to 15 hours of battery life.
If you want a touchscreen display you’ll have to pay $1299 or up and you’ll get a glossy screen and up to 12 hours of battery life. To be fair, both laptops get much longer run time than a typical notebook from a few years ago. But it’s still interesting that the cheaper model gets more battery life.
The cheaper model is also a tad lighter. Both models measure about 0.6 inches thick, but the version with the matte, non-touch display is 2.6 pounds while the touchscreen version is 2.8 pounds.
You do get some premium features with the more expensive model though. In addition to the touchscreen display, the more expensive ultrabook has a 3200 x 1800 pixel Sharp IGZO display panel with edge-to-edge glass, while the entry-level model has a lower-resolution (but still pretty crisp) 1920 x 1080 pixel Sharp screen. The bezel on the matte screen is still super-slim, but the glass doesn’t cover the bezel, so there’s a bit of aluminum and plastic around the display.
And while the entry-level model features 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, and a Core i3 Broadwell processor, the cheapest touchscreen model has 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a Core i5 CPU.
You can opt for a faster processor or more RAM with the non-touch version, but you’ll have to pay extra for those features.
Note that the RAM is attached to the motherboard on all of Dell’s news XPS 13 laptops. If you want more than 4GB, you should pay for it when you buy the laptop. The solid state drive is not glued in, so theoretically there’s nothing stopping you from upgrading the storage yourself. The same goes for the battery, although it’s not clear if attempting to replace you own battery or storage will void the warranty.
All told, both the touchscreen and non-touch versions of the Dell XPS 13 look like pretty great laptops, especially for folks looking for a compact machine with long battery life. But if you don’t need a 3200 x 1800 pixel touchscreen display, not only can you save a lot of money, but you might get longer battery life and the ability to view your laptop outdoors.
Oh yeah, I learned one more thing today: some folks had been concerned that Dell’s “infinity display” with super-thin bezels didn’t leave room for a webcam.
These laptops do have cameras. They’re just in the thickest part of the bezel: the part between the keyboard and the display.