The interior of the Dell XPS 15z is interesting to say the least. It looks beautiful, with its rounded metallic coated chiclet-style keys and minimalist style. A chrome looking material now lines the edges along the bottom half of the notebook. We think it’s a nice gesture by Dell, because the chrome lining actually has a very practical function. It makes prolonged typing much more comfortable, and wouldn’t cut into the user’s wrists (and that's one aspect that the Apple MBP could improve upon).
The placement of the keyboard, and the alien-looking speaker grilles on the left and right of the keyboard are very similar to that of the original XPS 15. We think that the symmetrical placement of the speaker grilles is nice, but that in itself introduces a problem. Putting the speakers in the same row as the keyboard means there isn’t any space for a number pad, which we have seen in quite a number of similar sized notebooks.
While it isn’t that important to have a number pad on board, we feel that if we can’t have a number pad, we’d rather have a wider keyboard. Both of which eludes us due to the simple decision to place speakers on the side of the keyboard. Well we know that we can’t have everything, but at least give us something!
Fortunately, we do have something. White LED back-lit keys that adds a touch of class to the XPS 15z to help consumers distinguish its premium status over lesser notebooks. This is one feature which we feel definitely shouldn’t be left out if the word “premium” is bundled along with the machine, so kudos to Dell for including it.
Another minor grouse we have with the slightly recessed keyboard (again, inspired by the Apple MBP) is about the keys themselves. They are fine to type with, although they might be slightly too shallow for that tactile feel which is very important to some typists, producing a muted clickity-clack that your colleagues will appreciate.
The trackpad underneath the keyboard is right smack in the middle (no numpad). It hardly interferes with regular typing but if it does, there’s no option to turn it off. Whether or not this presents a problem differs from user to user, but we had no issues with it in our testing.
The trackpad is also slightly recessed and lined with the same chrome looking material to visually separate the trackpad from the palm rest area. However we felt that the trackpad could be bigger, as there was plenty of space around it.
Yes we may have more than a few minor issues with the keyboard and trackpad, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Dell XPS 15z is still a very attractive machine inside and out. Even the bottom of the machine had unnecessary lines and holes completely removed, leaving only the alien-looking grille.