Dell XPS 13 2-1: Review

XPSReview

The Dell XPS 13 2-1 is a sexy, sleek laptop with a beautiful display, a great keyboard, a smooth trackpad and only a few minor issues. If you’re in need of a  highly portable computer for back-to-school this is an excellent choice but it does come with a high price tag.

From a quick glance, the Dell XPS 13 2-1 resembles a new MacBook Pro but it’s got a lot more going on in terms of unique features. This 2-1 laptop is a hybrid of sorts. It’s outfitted with 360-degree hinges that let you turn the computer screen around to better suit your needs. It also turns into a tablet in a moment’s notice.

Weighing in at only 1.24kg you can carry it around all day without breaking a sweat. Of course, being so light and only 14mm in thickness, you’re dealing with a lot less power. But that doesn’t stop the famous slim-surround InfinityEdge screen from looking crystal clear.

This is a good looking device. It’s got minimalistic detailing and I quite like the low flashiness of it. It knows its purpose. Getting work done in style with no need for extra bells and whistles. The top and bottom of the 2-1 are aluminum, while the inside is soft-touch carbon fibre-infused plastic. It feels tough but I found the aluminum scratched incredibly easily. I hardly traveled with the computer, always keeping it in a mostly empty backpack and I still found a way to scratch the device. At first, I thought it was simply some dirt, but upon closer inspection, I knicked it on something in my bag. This casing is much better than say cheap plastic surround but it’s problematic when this device is meant to be taken on the go. I’d recommend adding a case for safe handling.

I thought I’d mainly use the laptop in the traditional position but found myself flipping it over and displaying the tablet side facing out to show in meetings and when watching Netflix in the kitchen. Don’t worry mom I wasn’t cooking, I was just sitting at my kitchen bar having a drink watching Ozark.

I tried using as a tablet but with the keyboard, it just didn’t make sense. It felt awkward. This is a laptop first and foremost.

Because the 2-1 does mimic a tablet there are no full-size USB ports on the device. Instead, Dell has opted for two USB-C 3.1 ports. I’m not ready for the future of USB-C 3.1! My hard drives are still normal USB. Thankfully a USB adapter cable is included in the box.

I was surprised to find there was room for an SD Slot. Not full-size but the 2-1 does take micro SD Cards. This is a nice touch and it’s impressive given the size of the device.

Also included is a fingerprint scanner on the bottom right-hand corner of the keyboard which will allow you to log in without a pin or password much like you probably do on your phone.

One of the best features on this device is the keyboard. Oh, how I love this keyboard! It’s shockingly well designed and doesn’t feel clunky like most laptops tend to. You know those keys you have to smash down on? I’m not a fan of the keyboards on the larger Dell XPS line so this was a welcome surprise. The keyboard doesn’t feel cramped and my fingers easily found the correct keys within moments of playing with the device. It also features a keyboard backlight which helps for us that like to work in the dark and “strain our eyes” as my mom says.

The trackpad is made with nice textured glass and it’s easy enough to click on. It doesn’t take an army to click down which is nice since if you’re going be on the move you don’t wanna have to depend on a mouse. It doesn’t have pressure sensitivity (like the newer MacBook) but it sure does feel nice on the fingers.

In terms of performance, this isn’t a gaming machine. Sure, it could handle the fantastic Dream Daddy and other small Steam games but it’s not going handle something like the Witcher 3. This laptop is aimed at working and creating. It doesn’t feature Intel’s normal dual-core laptop CPU, instead, it’s going an ultra-low power “Y” series chipset. This chipset is pretty common in computers of this size, even appearing in the 12-inch MacBook. It’s not a bad thing at all, you just gotta know what you’re in for.

Depending on what your demands are this chipset could be a dealbreaker but it does make this computer completely silent. There’s no fan in the machine. This laptop is passively cooled, and I never heard it make a peep which was great for recording the Game Moose E3 Broadcasts.

I tried running Adobe Premiere on the device with not much luck, but Photoshop handed pretty well for easy tasks. This isn’t a powerful CPU, it’s a portable CPU.

One issue that stands out is how slow the computer is to boot. It has a fast SSD storage so this shouldn’t be a problem. I found standby would eat the battery faster than I would have liked so I opted to shut it down when I wasn’t using for extended periods. Oddly enough it takes longer than I would have liked to turn back on.

Battery life is pretty important when it comes to a laptop like this. Especially if you’re racing to meetings all day. I was getting 10-12 hours out of this machine with the stats maxed which is quite impressive. Dell has fit an impressive little battery in this unit. It’s also worth noting that the charger is extremely lightweight and easy enough to fit in your bag if you need it. Better safe than sorry.

If you want to play music or audio out of the machine don’t expect to be blown away. It’s perfectly fine, but not great. It lacks low-end noises and the max volume isn’t overly loud. If you’re in a crowded meeting room don’t expect for everyone to hear.

Ultimately the Dell XPS 13 2-1 is a great little machine. My minor grievances with it; prone to scratches, features no standard USB, has a slow boot time, and a really awkward power button, aren’t   that problematic in the large scale of things. The one big red flag is the price. Still cheaper than a MacBook but ultimately pretty expensive for what you’re getting. This isn’t a gaming machine. This is a day-to-day work machine. It’s got a killer keyboard and trackpad and it’s extremely lightweight and sleek. If you’re always on the go and need a computer with variable positioning this should be at the top of your list. I can’t stress how important it is to have a great keyboard and trackpad on the go. Less is more, and I don’t wanna pack accessories if they aren’t needed.

The Dell XPS 13 2-1 is wonderful little device and I’d highly recommend.

SPECS:

  • 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-7Y75 dual core processor and 8GB of RAM combine to deliver speedy and reliable multitasking performance
  • 256GB solid state drive is fast and responsive, and provides ample storage space to keep essential files just a click away
  • 13.3-inch Full HD touchscreen display with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 and InfinityEdge technology presents images, movies, games, apps, and software in sharp detail
  • 360-degree hinge allows you to position the display in tablet mode, tent mode, laptop mode, or stand mode
  • Built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi makes wirelessly connecting to mobile hotspots at home, work, or on the go quick and easy
  • Integrated Bluetooth connectivity lets you wirelessly connect to a range of additional peripherals, such as headphones or a printer
  • Preinstalled with Windows 10 Home operating system, which features a refined internet browser, improved Start menu, digital assistant with Cortana, universal Windows apps, and much more
Brock McLaughlin

Brock McLaughlin

Brock McLaughlin 🕹 🎮 Twitter @brockmclaughlin New Media (B)Rockstar. Blogger. Video Gamer. Podcaster at the Game Moose. UnBrocxer. Host/Producer at @comedygamers4u. Somewhat Charming.

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