Dell XPS 13 - A Quick Hands-on With a Compact Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13: Sneak Look at Some Compact Goodness

Ultrabooks Getting Compact

Thanks to Dell, the Dell XPS 13 showed up at the HardwareZone labs today, and we managed to get a very brief hands-on with a pre-production unit. We must say that even though the time with it was brief, we're fairly impressed with the build quality, its looks as well as Dell's choice of materials. One of its important design and marketing points is its compact form factor. In fact, they've showed us that the Dell XPS 13 managed to deliver a 13-inch screen using a 11.6-inch form factor of a traditional notebook design.

While we didn't have enough time to get some benchmark figures, we did come away with some very important information. According to Dell's representatives, the Dell XPS 13 will retail sometime in the middle of March 2012. We've also been given some ballpark figures regarding its prices because actual pricing hasn't been locked down by yet. Prices will start from around S$1400 and end slightly below S$2000 for the high-end model. Keep your eyes on HardwareZone for more details, because you will see them the moment we see them. Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures of the Dell XPS 13 below.

You'd have to forgive us for the fingerprints on the XPS 13, because that's what you get when you have a 13-inch glossy display, which by the way has a standard resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The upside is that the display is protected by tough Gorilla Glass which stretches the entire screen with no bezel. However the most striking feature is the sheer compactness of the XPS, because it has the body size of a regular 11.6-inch notebook.

The keyboard housing is made of extremely durable and strong carbon fiber that keeps the machine sturdy yet light-weight. There was hardly any flex even when we pressed down hard on the chiclet keys. Typing on the keyboard is also quite comfortable, even though the keys are a little shallow. Oh and by the way, the speakers of the XPS 13 are housed below the keyboard, but not to worry as it didn't hamper it any way while we used the notebook.

Dell opted to cover the palmrest area with carbon fiber with a rubbery coating that makes it much more comfortable to use. We also like the big plastic trackpad that seems to be coated in sort of a teflon-like material.

To make the lid as strong as possible, Dell also made sure the lid holding that Gorilla Glass in place is made of very strong aluminum. The material used was also a fair bit thicker than those used on competitors' machines. This contributed to a machine's slight heft, but it is surely sturdy and strong.

The right side of the machine houses a Mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.0 port, and the battery indicator. The latter is very handy when you want to check battery life without powering up the machine - a classic feature on older Dell business notebook machine's battery pack.

On the left of the machine, you will find the audio jack, a regular USB 2.0 port, as well as the power inlet. Unfortunately, Dell chose not to include an SD card reader, which we found ourselves increasingly reliant on.

Along with the palmrest, the bottom of the machine is also made of carbon fiber instead of cheap plastic. It also retains the signature carbon fiber pattern found on popular carbon fiber automotive products.

The bottom of the machine is devoid of anything unsightly. Seen here s a metallic plate that will carry all machine's identification marks, including logos representing technologies on board instead of cluttering the palm rest area.

The Dell XPS 13 isn't the thinnest or lightest Ultrabook in the market, but it certainly exceeds Intel's thin profile specifications.