Dell XPS 13 (2015) Ultrabook Review, It's Hot Hardware

Article Index

Software And User Experience

Dell does a nice job of resisting bloatware with the XPS 13 and our machine literally came with almost no superfluous, unwanted software.
 
XPS 13 Clean Desktop

XPS 13 Modern Start Screen

XPS 13 backup tools

There are a few welcomed additions like a Microsoft Office trial, Microsoft One Note, Flipboard and McAfee Central virus/security software, a 20GB DropBox account for 1 year and the Amazon app. All told, in addition to Dell's maintenance and documentation tools, the XPS 13 has a well-equipped but not overly burdened software setup.

XPS 13 Accessories
XPS 13 AC Power Brick, Companion Battery And HDMI/VGA/Ethernet Breakout Box

Though you do get the all primary necessities in terms of IO options on the 2015 Dell XPS 13, as we noted earlier, Dell does offer a few extra peripheral IO and expansion devices to complement the package. The Companion Battery pack offers an supplemental 43WHr battery that you can take with you for additional up-time. The IO breakout box gets you a full-sized HDMI port, VGA and a Gigabit Ethernet port as well.

4K UHD Video Playback Testing
Streaming Ultra High Definition Content
To get a sense of how the 2015 XPS 13 handles under the strain of decoding 4K HD video content, we fired up a few movie trailers on YouTube and checked the Windows 8.1 Task Manager/Performance tab.

XPS 13 4K HD Video Playback
4K video playback with 4 - 20% oscillating CPU utilization

XPS 13 4K Panel Drive
XPS 13 Driving 4K content at 60Hz via miniDP output

CPU utilization oscillated from about 4 - 20% during playback, with no dropped frames or stuttering. In addition, (since one reader asked), the 2015 XPS 13 had no problem pumping 4K HD video content over its miniDP port to an external 4K panel.

Another reader request was to take a closer look at the XPS 13's web cam setup and see if positioning the camera module at the bottom left corner of the display was either inconvenient or difficult to work with. See for yourself.

XPS 13 Webcam Shot
A view from the XPS13's webcam and my geek paws...

To us, this design choice was an approach we likely would have taken ourselves, if forced to find a place to accommodate the web cam, since the traditional top-mounted bezel area is unavailable due to the lack of chassis area. As you can see, unfortunately, there are two issues with the bottom left mounted location of the new XPS 13's webcam -- the viewing angle is well below eye level and at a rather unflattering perspective looking up at you.  Also, if you're typing on the machine at the same time, your left hand will likely at least partially obstruct the view from time to time. Is any of this a non-starter for us? Absolutely not, in our humble opinion. Though again, this is a user preference area that we'll have to defer to your own personal value assessment.

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