Apple got dragged big time for dumping all full-sized USB-A ports for the smaller, reversible, and overall more versatile USB-C ports in its MacBooks, but it was clearly ahead of the curve, since now Windows 10 laptops are following suit.
Ahead of CES 2018, Dell has unveiled its revamped XPS 13 laptop. Completely overhauled inside and out, the new XPS 13 is thinner, lighter, more powerful, and only comes with USB-C ports.
I know, you’re gonna have to live that #donglehell life, but you’ve had a few years to come to grips with USB-C. Stop whining already.
At first glance, the Dell XPS 13, starting at $1,000, doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor. I mean, it’s a laptop, and there are only so many ways to make a clamshell computer.
All of its charms, however, are in the details. For starters, it comes in black/silver and white/rose gold finish. I’ve never been a fan of rose gold, but I like this one because the pinkish shade is a little more subtle than on, say, Apple’s MacBook.
Even more compact than before
The new laptop is 0.46 of an inch thick and weighs 2.67 pounds — that’s thinner and lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is basically overweight by comparison at 0.58 inch thick and 3.02 pounds — and you definitely feel it when you pick it up. What can I say? I’m a huge sucker for laptops that save my back.
As mentioned earlier, this bad boy’s only got USB-C ports. All three are Thunderbolt 3 USB 3.1 ports capable of charging the laptop, outputting to two 4K displays, and transferring data. And unlike some a certain fruit-named company, there’s actually a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter thrown in the box.
You’ll also find a headphone jack and a microSD card slot. I’d cry over there not being a full-sized SD card slot, but a microSD card slot is still better than nothing. Besides, there are now 400GB microSD cards.
Laptop fundamentals 101
Of course, none of this stuff matters if Dell screwed up on the laptop fundamentals. And fortunately, it didn’t.
There are two screen options: 1080p or 4K, available with a touchscreen if you want it. I’ve liked Dell’s “Infinity Edge” laptop displays since forever ago — they’re really bright, crisp, and vibrant — and the company’s made them look even better by shaving the bezels even more. They’re now 23 percent thinner, which means you’ll definitely want to be careful to not drop this baby on the sides or it’s game over for the screen.
Other nice touches you might miss at first ogle: the Windows Hello-ready webcam is now centered instead of off to the side and there’s a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
The keyboard and trackpad are also spot-on. The keys are nice and clicky and have more travel than the flat-ass ones on the MacBook Pro. On the trackpad, the mousing is smooth and jank-free from what I could tell in my brief hands-on.
There’s a bunch of new, faster and more powerful guts underneath the glass fiber palmrest as well. The XPS 13 is configurable with Intel’s latest eight-generation processors in Core i5 or i7 variants, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of SSD storage.
Dell’s also boasting up to 19 hours of battery life on the 1080p model for work-related tasks like writing and editing spreadsheets (we’ll see how it holds up for real “mixed” usage” when we get to test one for ourselves).
The vast majority of y’all are probably reading this article on a phone or tablet, but that doesn’t mean laptops are dead.
In fact, they’re more exciting than ever as evidenced by last year’s delightful Microsoft Surface Laptop and Google Pixelbook. PC makers have realized that they don’t need to make laptops more like phones, but should instead focus on the pillars that make a laptop, well, a laptop: performance, display, keyboard, trackpad, and battery life.
Dell’s new XPS 13 isn’t pretending to anything but a really great Windows 10 notebook. That may not sound super sexy, but reality usually isn’t, and that’s actually fine for laptops.