Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Posted by Michael Knutson in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 09:00 AM
"For years, Dell's been teasing supermodel-thin laptops, each one flawed out of the gate: too pricey, too underpowered, and with underwhelming battery life. This time, Dell told us we'd get something different: a laptop without compromise. Recently, Round Rock killed off the Adamo and nixed the XPS 14, and then rumors started to spin -- a spiritual successor would be the slimmest 15.6-inch notebook we'd ever seen, be crafted from "special materials" and yet cost less than $1,000. Dell even stated that it would have an "innovative new form factor" of some sort."
Dell's ultimate cost-saving decisions (like attention to detail) make this a laptop that has some big positives, but also some big negatives. Trying for a MacBookPro-look, Dell has superficially succeeded, but the laptop's build quality (construction) appears to be somewhat flimsy, with even moderately heavy use of the keyboard causing flexing, and even causing some restriction in the internal cooling. A good backlit keyboard is somewhat negated by the heat emitted under the WASD keys. A good but glossy screen, can be upgraded to 1920x1080 (1080p) for $150. Speakers are robust enough to fill a room, but one of the comments referred to the grills as looking like "cheese graters." While not designed as a game-playing system, processor and video (choices) easily handle many of the less-intense titles. Battery life leaves something to be desired, with results of various test scenarios getting about 3.5-4.5 hours of use. Of course, Dell also adds lots of bloatware, but it's easily removable.
This is a laptop that I both love and hate. I love that it's "borrowed" some of the best features from Apple, but hate the fact that they appear have made compromises to keep the cost down, lessening the overall quality of the system. Still, for the $999 price this system will probably make it into my Top Ten list to replace my aging Dell D430 laptop.