Dell is revamping the look and feel of most of its high-end laptops and convertibles this year, and the latest to get a fresh coat of paint is the XPS 13 2-in-1. At Computex 2019, the company showed off the redesigned convertible that has more external changes than its updated XPS 13 laptop—the hinge is different, the keyboard is different, and yes, it now has a webcam that sits atop its display panel.
The XPS 13 2-in-1’s chassis remains a mixture of metal, carbon fiber, and, on the white model, glass fiber in its palm rests. Dell updated the hinges on the device so that the new ones let you transition between laptop and other modes more swiftly. The new sequential hinge also lifts the device slightly when in laptop mode, and the rubber feet beneath the hinge should prevent slipping. Like other XPS laptops, it’s a variable-torque hinge that slowly lowers the lid when closing the machine and should make opening it easier as well.
I first noticed the new MagLev keyboard on the XPS 13 convertible: the keys are larger, sit closer to the bottom of the chassis, and have just 0.7mm of travel. Overall, the keyboard and trackpad area have a slick, streamlined look that resembles Apple’s MacBook Pro—since I regularly use a butterfly keyboard, the newfound shallowness of the XPS 13 convertible’s keys didn’t bother me. However, it won’t be the most comfortable for users who detest shallow keyboards. A new rectangular power button and fingerprint module sits at the top-right corner of the keyboard, giving users one form of Windows Hello biometric authenticity.
As we expected, Dell’s tiny, in-house-developed webcam made its way from the XPS 13 laptop to its convertible cousin. The device still has a larger chin compared to its top and side bezels, but it has shrunk a bit, and the display panel has more space to shine. Users can choose from a 13-inch FHD panel or a 4K, 500-nit, HDR 400 panel with Dolby Vision. Both panels are touchscreen and support inking, but the XPS 13 2-in-1 doesn’t come with a stylus. Instead, Dell offers an optional active pen that can magnetically attach to the chassis’ side.
Dell also partnered with Eye Safe to bring its low blue-light technology as an optional feature to the XPS 13 convertible’s displays. This technology embeds new LEDs into the panel that produce blue light that is less harsh than other displays. Before employing any blue-light limiting software, the XPS 13 convertible’s display should be easier on the eyes than that of other machines.
With the newest 10th-gen Intel processors, the new XPS 13 2-in-1 will be 2.5 times more powerful than the previous model. It will also support up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. To accommodate the performance boost, Dell redesigned the internal thermal system to support active cooling with two fans, carbon blades, and a new vapor chamber. Like previous models, it also has GORE thermal insulation. Dell estimated that the machine will get up to 16 hours of battery life on a single charge. Both of its two Thunderbolt 3 ports support charging as well as DisplayPort capabilities, and it has a microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack. Fortunately or unfortunately, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is too thin to support other, larger ports.
Elsewhere in the XPS family, Dell updated the XPS 15 laptop to include its top-mounted webcam, 9th-gen Intel octa-core processors, Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics, and a stunning OLED display panel. The larger XPS laptop has always been a powerhouse tool for professions, particularly creatives. But these improvements strengthen its position in that category.
Continuity in Alienware
Dell’s new design language for its Alienware gaming products has also started trickling down from the Area-51m, which debuted at CES. The Alienware m15 and m17 laptops have been completely redesigned to accommodate the new slate-gray and white color scheme as well as the oval back edges that first appeared on Dell’s top-of-the-line gaming laptop.
The Area-51m is a massive (and massively powerful) machine, and the m15 and m17 are designed to be easier to handle in every way. They are among the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops that Alienware offers with such high-powered internals: these laptops support 9th-gen H- and K-series Intel processors, up to 8GB Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics with Max-Q design, up to 16GB of RAM, and dual storage for up to 4TB RAID0 (2x 2TB PCIe SSD).
In addition, users can get optional per-key lighting on both laptops, and they can choose among 60Hz, 144Hz, or 240Hz FHD panels or one OLED display panel. Both laptops will have optional Tobii eye tracking as well.
It’s encouraging to see Dell’s execution of Alienware’s new design language across the portfolio. The Area-51m is a machine designed for specific types of gamers—those who spare no expense when it comes to their mobile PC gaming needs. The m15 and m17 laptops are within more users’ grasps in terms of their specs and prices, and now those users don’t have to wait to get the latest look and internal architecture that Alienware has to offer.
The new XPS 13 2-in-1 will be available soon starting at $999. The new XPS 15 is available today starting at $999 (the model with the OLED display will set you back at least $1,899). Dell’s updated Alienware m15 and m17 laptops will be available on July 1 starting at $1,499.