I have been saddled (by employers) with mediocre PC laptops for years. Most companies have their IT
groups recycle (aka ‘refurbish’) laptops to save costs. Inevitably, all but a couple people end up with 3-year old models that are heavier, slower, and lamer than the latest/greatest model (kind of like comparing a Miguel Cabrera 2014 to Miggy 2011).
Just as my latest laptop started acting up, an e-mail popped into my inbox from Dell. They wanted me to test drive their XPS 13 laptop and share with all of you my thoughts on it. As an incentive, I could keep the laptop and give one out to our wonderful readers. Wow, last year I got a free book to review. This year, a laptop. Just putting it out there that Rudy could use a non-minivan to drive around in…
Okay, back to the laptop. Here is what I look for in a laptop and how the Dell XPS 13 crushes my previous ones:
- Battery Life – I spend my whole day at a desk. For night-time number-crunching, I prefer to be in front of the TV. The problem is my living room has the plug accessibility of a second-rate airport. As I refuse to huddle in a corner, I need my laptop to handle a couple hours on the couch without being plugged in. Same goes for the occasional flight or if I camp out at a coffee shop. The XPS 13 handles this very well – I’ve been getting about 4-5 hours on it. Even better, they have an accessory (the Dell Power Companion PW7015M) that can charge both the laptop and 2 USB-based devices. Came in handy when sitting on the couch with my daughter and had her iPad and my laptop charging at the same time.
- Weight – My laptops have typically weighed in around 5 pounds. That is fine for the most part but sucks when walking w/ laptop bag in tow. The Dell XP13 is less than 3 pounds. That is two pounds I can invest in food provisions, a book, contraband, etc.
- Size/Screen – I used to love big screens on my laptops but, nowadays, keep it slim and small (13″) and I’ll plug it into a monitor as a second screen if I am at my desk. This laptop has a 13.3″ screen with crazy resolution (4x HD) and the dimensions are tiny. I am told that it is 23% smaller than a MacBook Air 13! That is nearly 1/4 less! It is at least 50% slimmer than my previous laptop. It is almost like packing a laptop in the space of a tablet. (Note: if you plug into a second monitor, they have a nice accessory that converts your USB port into a HDMI/VGA/USB port. Minor trade-off for keeping it slim!)
- Speed – I always have a bazillion Chrome tabs open as well as Excel and MySQL Workbench. I am also networked into my home network drive and printer. Nothing is more infuriating then when the a computer lags or freezes. I do not know if it is the Intel 5th gen core processor or the 8GB in RAM or both but this computer is fast. Like I upgraded from Billy Butler to Billy Hamilton.
- Heat – I know it is called a ‘lap top’ but most laptops start toasting your thighs and undercarriage if you keep them on top of your lap too long. FWIW, the XPS 13 seems to run less hot than my old laptop.
- Touch-Screen – Wait, what? Yes, this laptop has touch screen capabilities. It is taking me a while to get used to this on a computer. It is a sweet addition though I will have to hide this feature from my tablet-obsessed kid.
Enough about me bragging about my laptop. Below is the submission form for the contest. We will be giving away the Dell XPS 13 laptop (retail value: $799) in early March. The consolation prizes are 1) Free entry on the Razzball Newsletter e-mail list and 2) You can buy the laptop at retail price.