final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Speed and features Its as fast as I need for everything I use it for. I do a little video converting, photo editing, coding, and everyday use and have never had any speed issues. good
  • Design and form factor I wish it had 1 more USB port and an ethernet port. The size is just right and is sleek. I like the carbon fiber bottom, other than that, it looks like a MBA. great!
  • Battery life Battery life is as good as I need, but its not as high as they advertise. I haven't done any true testing, but its good enough. No replaceable battery though. so-so
  • Display Display looks nice, it has a small bezel. Gorilla Glass cover is nice. The resolution could be a little higher, but again, good enough for me. good
  • Durability The aluminum top and carbon fiber bottom protect well. Gorilla Glass screen cover, glass touchpad, solid state drive, what else could you ask for. great!
  • Expandability It could use 1 more USB port, but I don't need the optical drive. I wish it also had an ethernet port, but USB3 port is nice to have if needed. so-so
  • Noise pretty quiet unless I'm working it pretty hard and it's not ventilated well. Video conversion can cause the fan to ramp up a little, but it's not bad. great!
  • Portability (size / weight) I love the size, it fits into 12" netbook bags. It's a little thicker than a MBA, but way smaller than any Windows computer I've ever seen.d great!
Detailed review
It's my first review, but I've used a lot of Dell Windows laptops in my day. This one is by far my favorite. Its small, fast and not bad looking. I've used this laptop as a step in minimalizing my laptop bag I usually carry around. It fits into a smaller bag, the battery lasts longer and it's as powerful of a laptop as I've ever had or needed. I don't do any crazy gaming or high intensity graphics work, but I'd like to consider myself a power user and I couldn't ask for more.

My favorite feature is the solid state drive. Since there are no moving parts, I don't have to do a true shutdown and restart every time I start it up. Windows starts up quick and data transfers are super fast. Reboot times are great. I've installed Windows 8 beta releases and it's a great computer for Windows 8. It truly takes advantage of the fast startup.

If I could make any changes to it and keep the price I'd add a USB port, Ethernet adapter and change the Mini Display Port to an HDMI port. But really, I don't need any of those.

I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a Windows competitor to the Mac Book Air. Its small and packs a decent punch. It gets an A in my book.

UPDATE (03/27/2013): Someone liked my review and it reminded me I should udpate after using it for a year and moving on to a Surace Pro. I miss the XPS 13's keyboard. Now that I look back the display wasn't quite as good as the Surface Pro's screen due to the resolutions, but the Surface pro runs into other issues with how high the resolution is for how small of screen it is and the XPS 13 didn't have that problem. Battery life seems like it was better than the Surface Pro, but I don't have any stats to prove it.

Like I said I miss the XPS 13's keyboard the most, but I do miss it overall. My wish list after using it for a year was a touch screen (like the XPS 12, but not as thick, and not necessarily a convertible), and a little better battery life.
review history
Updated detailed review