I was able to spend some time with the Dell XPS 13 (Touchscreen version) this weekend and came away very disappointed. To be fair, the laptop has received a lot of positive reviews and has been called a “MacBook Air killer.” At first glance, it seems like that may be true. However, a couple hours of use with the Dell XPS 13 reveals some major problems.
When you first look at the screen, your eyes will notice that the 3K screen looks absolutely gorgeous. It looks like the best screen that has ever been put on a laptop. However, once you look a little closer (or at least look at anything that has a white background) you notice that it looks like grease has been poured on the screen. This is the case with most laptop screens that have a touch layer, but it’s usually not this noticeable. It really does take away from the viewing experience.
However, the problems only get worse. You will notice that the screen changes brightness without any notice. This happens with a lot of laptops and the problem can be corrected by turning the Adaptive Display setting off. Unfortunately, even if you do this with the XPS 13, the problem still persists. This alone is a deal breaker. When I upgraded the XPS 13 to Windows 10 Technical Preview, the problem was solved. Still, someone shouldn’t have to upgrade to a beta version of an operating system to take care of a major issue.
Then, there is the keyboard. At first, the small keys seem okay–not great, but not a disability to the laptop. However, after typing for more than fifteen minutes, it’s evident that the Dell XPS 13 keyboard slows you down. Perhaps one needs to get used to the keyboard. But after using it for the whole weekend, the typing experience didn’t improve for me.
Then, there is the issue of battery life. I did a rundown test of streaming video from Netflix and the XPS 13 lasted 6 hours and 10 minutes. That’s actually not awful, but it isn’t as good as the battery life on other ultrabooks. When using Photoshop, the battery would run down ten 10 percentage points in twenty minutes.
I really wanted to love this laptop. Dell has always been the underdog and usually comes though. Unfortunately, the XPS 13 will only help cement Dell’s decline instead of getting the company back on the track it dominated just ten years ago.