Dell has been knocking aliens for its gamers alongside inspiring students and professionals with appropriately entitled laptop range names. Arguably, Dell XPS stands at the top of the podium when pitted against its siblings. What comes to us this time from Dell’s quarters is the XPS 15. Now, we haven’t ignored the on-going rumors of Dell trying to put an end to its XPS 14. However, it couldn’t stop us from taking this mean machine under our wings for an all-inclusive review. This device is also said to be one of the toughest Windows running machine. It could be a tough one from within but on the outside we found it stylishly sophisticated. If any heads moving cross-ways, then we’d just like to say – beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. To know if its sober sheets cover a power-packed performance, immerse into our analysis of the Dell XPS 15.
The lid of the device has not been affixed on the back edge, instead leaves a strip of area before taking its position. The top surface shows a black strip with illuminated XPS marked on the right side while two LEDs indicating the battery and hard drive are embedded on the left side. The intricately packed Dell XPS 15 was sheer delight to unwrap as it emerged with a distinguishable lid dipped in anodized matte silver. The same texture extends to the base of the device and partly to the edges. The rest of the edges, strip along the lid and bezel are drenched in all-black.
On opening the lid, dark gray brushed surface stares right back at you with a lighter grey backlight keyboard. The touchpad is large while Dell leaves ample of room for the wrist rest. The touchpad shows a lighter shade of gray while the mouse buttons are painted dark. The JBL speakers are seen on the left and right side of the keyboard. A set of touch controls along with main power button take their position above the keyboard on the right side while the JBL logo sits on the left side. A metallic thin rim outlines the inner surface, touchpad and also the set of touch controls. The bezel does give a plasticky feel with the Skype HD certified webcam infused at the top center along with microphone and camera light. The XPS logo has been marked on its extreme right. A silver and smooth metallic dell logo sits at the lower side of the bezel while a striped one has been carved on its lid. As you switch on the device, touch controls on the right side above the keyboard illuminate rhythmically.
Using the keyboard was a smooth experience as the keys were responsive enough, not much bouncy. The multi-touch touchpad is comfortable too. The aforesaid touch controls include Windows Mobility Center, Dell Instant Launch Manager and Dell Audio by Realtek. The Windows Mobility Center gives a single view of display brightness, volume, battery life, Bluetooth and can be further customized. The next button lets us configure it according to our preference. We tried assigning it with a variety of functions for instant access. The last button in this row allows users to control their audio. Using the touchpad was also a fairly good experience. The pinch to zoom touch gesture worked well while scrolling wasn’t that smooth. The mouse buttons embedded on the machine are not too hard and respond pretty well.
The heat vents are placed on the left edge beside a 3.0 USB port. Due to this, one may notice that the left palm rest as well as the left side of the touchpad gets heated within an hour of usage. The right edge shows headphone, mic and s/pdif jacks alongside eSata/USB combo, optical drive with LED indicator, eject button and emergency eject hole. The backside shows a mini-display port, HDMI, network connector, antenna-in connector, main power port, Kensington slot and one 3.0 USB port. Well, it’s nice to see Dell include 3.0 USB ports but we wish they could have just increased the number. The plain front edge has a 9-in1 card reader slot camouflaged within the silver texture.
The Dell XPS 15 on Windows 7 Home Premium while its hardware sheet talks about Intel’s Core i7 Q740 1.73GHz processor with 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD and Nvidia GeForce GT 435M. The GT 435M graphics chip features the Nvidia Optimus technology, enabling automatic switching to Intel HD graphics. This not only helps save power but also assists in elevating the performance level. The HD webcam offers output that is compatible with Skype and this is an inclusion worth appreciating. The 2MP camera takes quick and fine snapshots while you get to choose the resolution. However, it proves to be disappointing in low light conditions. Besides, you will find various effects and avatars seen in most of the webcams these days for added fun. Under cam settings, we could conveniently tweak Flicker control, brightness, contrast and so on.
The Dell bundle came with the unit, charger and a handful of booklets and software CDs. You can run through the setup guide, software license, safety, environment info, instruction booklet to setup 3DTV, Nvidia 3D frequently asked questions booklet and five helpful software CDs. No, the XPS 15 doesn’t feature a 3D display but with the Nvidia 3DTV Play application, it allows you to play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D movies and games. Besides, it’s inclusive of CyberLink Power DVD, Roxio software for burning CDs and DVDs and facial recognition software for a secure usage of the product. Connecting to the Wi-Fi was quite quick and were happy with the device’s multi-tasking abilities. A couple of downloads, web surfing, email and music were handled to a great extent. The backlight keyboard further made typing a smooth experience even in dim light.
The built-in JBL speakers emit loud and detailed tunes. These speakers can fill in a medium sized room. Plus, Dell also adds in easy access to music controls with the Realtek control panel. The Waves MaxxAudio3 further enhances the audio experience. This Dell machine houses JBL subwoofer which outs about 20 watts of power. However, we feel it’s time Dell takes portability seriously. The company’s innovative offerings emerge a tad heavy and this technological piece is no different. At 2.78 Kg, it strikes out the portability factor.
The Dell XPS 15 laptop has been integrated with a 15.6-inch screen with a native resolution of 1366 x 768, displaying crisp and sharp images. The viewing angles offered by the HD display were comfortable enough while the viewing experience worked wonderfully with its audio. The device played 720p movies quite effectively and we also got into some gameplay. The graphics ensure a smooth gaming experience. Though it’s not a competitor to most of the desktops out there, we played a few games like Counter Strike and the experience can be termed good. Needless to say, the screen and speakers work in tandem to enhance gaming sessions.
The infused Windows 7 Operating system ropes in several functionalities which add to the convenience. The screen also displays the dock which has been added by Dell. The dock is customizable but we don’t think one would require it, owing to the incorporated Windows 7. With average usage, the 6-cell battery stretched to about three and half hours.
The well spaced and responsive keys embedded on the keyboard alongside the backlight ability ensure a smooth typing experience.
The combination of the hardware and software infused in our unit results into an overall good performance from the device.
The JBL speakers emit loud and clear audio.
Although we liked the design, the device comes across pretty heavy and won’t make an ideal travel companion.
We must say, the Dell XPS 15 is a mean machine with good combination of hardware and software set. It delivers a powerful performance alongside serves as a decent multimedia device. Those ready to ignore the bulky form factor, can take home this Dell machine for Rs. 69,000. It has impressed us enough to climb our rating ladder up to 9 on a scale of 10.