Dell gets it right with thin mid-size laptop
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Dell gets it right with thin mid-size laptop

First some disclosure..over the years I have owned a succession of Dell notebook computers and was satisfied with all of them even in Dell’s bad years. Occcasionally my Dell notebooks showed flashes of style but most were ordinary workaday machines. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from what Dell describes as the world’s thinnest Windows Laptop.

 Colour me impressed..out of the box the Dell XPS 15Z is a nice looking machine..all anodized aluminum and a hair under an inch thick, it is as stylish as the MacBook Pro. It feels solid and looks good.

My demo unit is the top of the line with pretty impressive specs:

PROCESSOR 2nd generation Intel Core™ i7-2620M processor 2.70 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.40 GHz
Operating System Genuine Windows® Home Premium, 64-Bit, English
MEMORY 8GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 1333MHz Memory
HARD DRIVE 750GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
GRAPHICS CARD NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 525M 2GB graphics with Optimus
OPTICAL DRIVE 8X Slot Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)
BATTERY OPTIONS 64 WHr 8-Cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
WIRELESS CARD Intel© Centrino© Advanced-N 6230 & Bluetooth 3.0
SOUND OPTIONS Waves Maxx Audio 3
Integrated Network Adapter Integrated 10/100/1000 Network Card

So it is way more than a pretty face..the second generation Intel Core processor combined with the Nvidia video solution enables this laptop to blow the doors off most average desktops..the only thing missing is an SD drive and the XPS 15z would fly..still it is fast enough to be a solid desktop replacement.

The XPS 15z comes with two graphics chips: an integrated Intel HD GPU, and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT525M processor with 2GB of video memory. Using Nvidia’s Optimus technology, the XPS 15z switches between the two based on need. This combination provides decent battery life in normal use and good gaming performance for a notebook. The bright 15.6″ 1920 x 1080  glossy screen  provides terrific rendering of games and movies..a rare full 1080p HD in this class of laptop.

There is a decent 2MP camera for video chats, lots of ports..On the left side of the XPS 15z are two USB 3.0 ports, one USB/eSATA with PowerShare, HDMI 1.4, Mini DisplayPort, and a 9-in-1 card reader. The right side has a slot-loading DVD drive and headphone and mic jacks. The rear has an Ethernet port and a Power Input port

The keyboard is comfortable even if the keys are a bit chiclety (is that a word?) and have a short travel. The touchpad is a good size with proper buttons and the magnesium deck doesn’t attract fingerprints. I got just under six hours of mixed work..a lot of writing, some surfing and a couple of short videos out of a battery charge and never did the XPS 15Z get too hot.

But that isn’t to say it was comfortable on my demo unit weighed in at 2542 grams (5.6 pounds) which is a chunky beast. Add a pound for the power brick and you have quite a load to lug around an airport. The XPS 15z is at home on a desktop but certainly not a choice for a road warrior.

The base model of the XPS 15z costs $999.99 For that, you get a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, a 1366 x 768 (200-nit) display, 4GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce GT525M graphics with 1GB of video memory, and a 500Gb hard drive. But, Dell is currently holding a sale and the top of the line model is only $1299.99..for the extra 300 bucks you get the faster processor, the brighter high resolution screen, a better graphics card and a bigger hard drive. Definitely a deal to consider.




Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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