We're no strangers to the Dell XPS 13, and you probably aren't either. One of the features we'd wished for when we reviewed the first generation model was a higher resolution display option; say 1600 x 900. Well Dell has done even better and the new XPS 13 FHD model features a 1920 x 1080 IPS display. That's a lot of pixels for a 13.3" display and the panel has 178 degree viewing angles and a wider color gamut. In other respects, the XPS 13 FHD is largely the same as the non-FHD model. It shares the same casing (no complaints here, it's a lovely piece of hardware), very good backlit island style keyboard and Intel ULV Core i5 and i7 CPUs.
The only drawback is that this isn't a touch screen, nor is there pen input. Windows 8 begs for a touch screen when navigating the Live Tile UI and when working with gestures, but you'll have to rely on the Cypress glass trackpad (not one of our favorites) for gestures. That said, Dell seems to have a model for everyone, and the lovely Dell XPS 12 offers much the same in terms of features, specs and build quality as the XPS 13 with a 1080p touchscreen. And I know there are those of you who detest touch and prefer to live in the desktop UI that mimics Windows 7. This Ultrabook is for you. Speaking of Windows 7, corporate buyers can order the machine with Windows 7, though we'd recommend going with 8 for the updated drivers and longer lifecycle for security fixes and updates.
The Dell XPS 13 comes with a small speed boost in terms of Ivy Bridge ULV Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs that are a 100MHz faster than the CPUs we've seen in recent Ultrabooks and Intel Core i tablets. These are still 17 watt CPUs and it's a minor update, though we're sure you won't complain. You can order the Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i5-3337U 1.8GHz CPU or Core i7-3537U CPU. In either case, you'll get Intel HD 4000 graphics and 8 gigs of RAM. You can choose a 128 or 256 gig SSD (both the excellent Samsung PM830 model for good speeds). The XPS 13 FHD starts at $1,299 and the non-FHD model with a TN panel running at 1366 x 768 will remain in Dell's lineup for $999. The FHD model is available today on Dell's website. The top of the line model with a Core i7, 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig is $1,599. $300 isn't chump change to some folks, but honestly if you can afford it, I would go with the FHD model. It isn't just the resolution bump that makes for sharper text (though tiny text in desktop mode), but the much wider viewing angles and improved color gamut (72% of sRGB on the FHD vs. 45% on the HD model) and 350 nits of brightness vs. 300 nits make for a much better experience.
In other respects, this is the same as the XPS 13 1366 x 768 model with an aluminum lid, carbon fiber bottom and magnesium alloy keyboard deck with a soft touch finish. It has Intel dual band WiFi with WiDi wireless display, Bluetooth 4.0, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort and a 3.5mm audio jack but no SD card slot or Ethernet. It's slim and light at 3 lbs. and good looking. It's also sturdy as all heck and can take some punishment. Dell claims up to 9 hours of battery life on a charge with the internal 47 WHr, 6 cell Lithium Ion polymer battery, which is stronger than touch screen Windows 8 touchscreen convertibles. In our tests so far, we've seen 6 to 7.5 hours on a charge.
Here's our Dell XPS 13 FHD video review. Our full written review will follow soon.