Dell’s XPS 13 Should Hold the Lead for Windows Ultraportables With 2019 Update

The Dell XPS 13 is generally (though not universally) regarded as one of the top Windows machines available, thanks to a sleek design and a great value. Dell’s gentle revision of the laptop continues into 2019, notably including the most requested change.

Dell lowered the curtain on the latest refresh at CES, drawing crowds with a headline feature: the camera is now exactly where you expect it to be. Previous iterations sought the thinnest screen bezels possible, and achieved this by sticking the webcam below the main panel. This inelegant design quirk was quickly christened the “nose cam” for its habit of peering directly into the user’s nostrils. Thanks to a redesigned module and a soldered ribbon cable instead of the usual plug, the pinhole 720p cam can now squeeze into the top bezel with only a tiny, and entirely agreeable, extra space added.

Elsewhere the changes for the XPS 13 are harder to spot. It’s still what I think of as a carbon fiber sandwich, with the patterned carbon visible on the keyboard deck and palmrest surrounded by machined aluminum on the lid and bottom. It still looks great in either white or black, and the base configuration ($900 this year) still starts with just 4GB of RAM. (And yes, we still recommend the RAM bump, even if you’re trying to keep the price down.) The only other sore spot is the speakers, which remain tiny grilles on the left and right edges, and akin to something you’d see on a cheap tablet. The fingerprint reader, if you opt for the upgrade, is now cleverly hidden in the power button.

Otherwise, it’s the same design all of you know and many of you love. The most expensive configurations include brilliant 13-inch 4K touchscreens, though naturally a conventional 1080p screen is available, which might be preferable for those who desire battery life over visual fidelity. Dell says the laptop can last for up to 21 hours on a charge, which seems optimistic at best. Strangely the online configurations max out at 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage at the moment. I/O includes three USB-C ports for power, data, and Thunderbolt video (no old-fashioned USB-A ports will fit), a headphone jack, and a MicroSD card reader.

Note that at the time of writing, the new model (9380) uses the same 8th-gen Intel Core processors as last year’s design. They’ll probably be replaced during Intel’s upcoming product cycle, without any other major changes to the body. XPS fans looking to upgrade may want to wait, or simply search for a deal on the 9370 design and trim their nose hairs before any important Skype calls. Ready to pull the trigger? Dell is taking orders for the 2019 machine now.

Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »

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