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DELL XPS 13

The camera is in the right place on the new Dell XPS 13. That may seem like a small thing, but to people who have used this laptop in the past it’s the main thing. It’s the main thing because that seemingly minor complaint was the only real knock on an otherwise excellent laptop. Now that the webcam is above the screen instead of below it, I don’t have to talk about the XPS 13 as an “otherwise excellent” laptop.

The 2019 version of Dell’s nearly iconic XPS 13 has another update compared to the previous version, an updated 8th Gen Intel Whiskey Lake processor. Though that’s a nice thing to have, it’s not as important as the fact that Dell has nailed most of the fundamentals that make a good laptop.

Even though the XPS 13 has a strong pedigree, it’s worth talking about again. It was one of the first mainstream laptops with a nearly edge-to-edge screen. It doesn’t go in for 360-degree hinge tricks — there’s the XPS 13 2-in-1 for that — it was just always a good, well-built laptop. It has become something of a default alternative to the MacBook Air for Windows users — something thin, light, stylish, and also reliable. Windows has many more such laptops available now (the Surface Laptop 2 is a good choice), but the XPS 13 is still at or near the front of that pack.

I really like the white version of this laptop. The top has a sort of silvery depth to its finish and the keyboard deck consists of woven carbon fiber. That extra touch makes it feel much more comfortable and I prefer it to the Surface Laptop’s fabric finish. Based on what people have said about the last XPS model, it should also hold up well over time. It’s a very nice-looking laptop.

The 2019 version of the XPS 13 starts at $899, but I think most people will want to step up to the $1,199 (as of this writing) version. That will get you a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and the 1080p screen. Unfortunately, the only way to get a touchscreen is to jump all the way up to the $1,799 (as of this writing) model, which has a 4K screen, more RAM, and a faster processor.

Most people probably won’t miss the touchscreen, especially since this is a traditional laptop form factor, but I find it super convenient to have. Because the touchpad is smaller than on a lot of other modern laptops, I often find myself quickly reaching up to dismiss a notification or tap an icon on the taskbar. I wish Dell offered a touchscreen option on the 1080p screen — which costs less, has better battery life, and is available on most of its competitors.

But if you’re willing to spend the extra money (and take the battery life hit) to get the 4K screen, you’ll find it to be excellent. The 13.3-inch screen does go nearly edge-to-edge on the top, left, and right, but there’s a large-ish bezel on the bottom. Along with a lot of other people, I prefer a 3:2 aspect ratio for productivity work on laptops, which the XPS 13 does not have; it makes do with a traditional 16:9 screen. Dell has also put an anti-reflective coating on the screen which really helps with using it in a bright room.