The New Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Is Finally a Competent Laptop

Dell’s range of XPS laptops have always been some of the best productivity laptops, and at Computex 2019, the company finally updated the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 properly. Now sporting a new design, a more powerful processor, and a taller display, the convertible laptop is better than ever.

Personally, the XPS 13 2-in-1’s lack of power has always been my biggest qualm with the laptop. But now that Dell has addressed this – among other things – it is now a competent, attractive convertible laptop. In fact, it is potentially better than the standard XPS 13.

Unlike its predecessor’s use of Intel’s Y-series CPUs, the new XPS 13 2-in-1 comes with the chipmaker’s latest generation Ice Lake CPUs from the U-series. The new processors promise up to 2.5 times better performance, making this productivity laptop a lot more capable.

However, switching to the more powerful processors also necessitates better cooling. Unlike the previous model’s passive cooling system, the revamped convertible has physical fans to cool down the internals. Is it a worthwhile trade-off? In my book, it sure is.

Another area where Dell improved upon is the XPS 13 2-in-1’s display. Previously, the laptop only had a 16:9 display, but the new model is now equipped with a taller 16:10 screen. Basically, it’s the same aspect ratio as Apple’s range of MacBook laptops, and that is a very good thing.

When it comes to productivity laptops, a 16:10 display makes a lot more sense for one simple reason: you have more vertical space to work with. Scrolling and reading through documents would be easier, and the display wouldn’t look as narrow as a conventional 16:9 screen. It may seem like a small change, but the extra screen real estate is a godsend on compact laptops like this.

Nonetheless, the 13.4-inch InfinityEdge display of the XPS 13 2-in-1 can be configured with two resolutions: a regular 1920 x 1200 screen, or a more impressive 3840 x 2400 panel. Whichever resolution you opt for, you will still get a touch display. This is, after all, a convertible laptop. It would make little sense to have a non-touch screen.

In line with the standard XPS 13’s new design, the XPS 13 2-in-1’s webcam is finally at the top of the display. You don’t have to deal with awkward camera angles anymore, and the top bezel still remains very thin. Speaking of which, the overall bezel size is very minimal too; there’s no chin to be found here.

And then we have the XPS 13 2-in-1’s new maglev keyboard. If you’re wondering, it is the same keyboard found on the XPS 15 2-in-1. Chances are, the typing experience should be very similar too. I’ve tried out the maglev keyboard on the XPS 15 before, and truth be told, it is not for everyone.

See, the maglev keyboard relies on magnets to provide tactile feedback, and while it does a very good job in this regard, the key travel is very short. This, in turn, makes for a shallow typing experience. I don’t particularly mind this, but if you’re not a fan of the MacBook’s butterfly keyboard, you wouldn’t like the maglev keyboard either.

Rounding out the specifications of the updated XPS 13 2-in-1 are up to 32GB of LPDDR4 RAM, three choices of PCIe SSD storage (256GB, 512GB, or 1TB), a 51WHr battery, and a fingerprint sensor built into the power button.

The new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 does not have a release date yet, but it will retail from $1,000 – that comes up to about RM4,190. Yes, it’s not an affordable convertible, but the XPS lineup has always been positioned as a premium offering.

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