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Dell’s XPS 15: The best big-screen laptop

By on July 15, 2016 at 9:00 PM.

Dell’s XPS 15: The best big-screen laptop

Dell’s XPS 15 has become the new trendsetter for big-screen laptops. Like Apple, Dell has come up with a stable, high-quality design.

I try out a lot of laptops and laptop-tablet hybrids, so it’s never easy to settle on one machine for long. But Dell’s 2016 update of the XPS 15 has been my main machine for the last month. Here’s why.

Big screen: Dell’s 15.6-inch display is so big that you probably won’t want anything bigger. But the company has done a good job making its biggest XPS laptop small and light for its size. The XPS 15’s almost-borderless display allows Dell to compress the chassis to the size of some 14-inch laptops. And the 3.9-pound starting weight (4.4 pounds with the larger battery) is well distributed, making it eminently portable for a 15-inch class laptop.

Dell is one of the few top-tier laptop manufacturers to use a so-called bezel-less (borderless) display (though others are finally beginning to catch on). This accomplishes two critical things: it makes for a really cool looking laptop and, as I said above, it keeps the weight and size down. Dell has also done this with great success on the XPS 13, which is essentially a smaller version of the XPS 15.

But getting back to the display’s size. What a 15.6-inch screen gets you is something pretty close to a standalone desktop display. It’s easy to unplug my external 25-inch Dell display and just use the XPS’s. In fact, if I owned an XPS 15 there would be really no reason for an external display. That’s why a big-screen laptop will always have a following: it’s essentially a movable desktop PC.

And be warned, once you start using a big-screen laptop, it’s really hard to go back to anything under 14 inches. Dell makes it even harder if you opt for the 4K Ultra HD (3,840-by-2,160) touch display – it has 3 million more pixels than the display on Apple’s 15.4-inch MacBook Pro. Made by Japan-based Sharp and co-developed with Dell, it’s easily the best big display I’ve used on a laptop. Windows 10 in high resolution is very different than Windows running on a lower-resolution laptop. And Dell and Sharp have done their homework with color accuracy and color reproduction.

Materials: Dell’s choice of materials sets it apart from the competition too. In order to keep the weight down, Dell uses a carbon fiber composite on the area surrounding the keyboard and touchpad. The soft feel of the weaved carbon fiber while you type is a nice contrast with the all-aluminum laptops prevalent today – the MacBook being the most prominent example. The only downside is that the carbon fiber can be a body oil magnet. (I find I generally need to clean the area around the touchpad every other day with a soft cloth moistened with soapy water.) The rest of the laptop (top and bottom) is aluminum. Overall, it’s a remarkably sturdy machine considering its light weight and thickness – only 0.66 inches at its thickest point.

Performance: The model I have packs a lot of punch with Intel’s newest i7-6700HQ 6th generation quad-core processor. It also has a no-holds-barred feature set, including 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a fast 512GB solid-state drive, an Nvidia GTX 960M graphics chip, and an 84 WHr (watt-hour) battery.

Big-screen laptops are often fast, because they can accommodate robust cooling systems and fans to keep even the speediest silicon from overheating. Fast silicon does make a difference. There really isn’t anything that can slow down the XPS 15 that I’m using. Opening a browser with dozens of tabs, or playing a 1080p video full-screen while tweaking an Excel spreadsheet, or diving into photo or video editing doesn’t faze it. And while I don’t play games, it can also keep up with some of the faster gaming laptops, based on tech site reviews. All of that speed can make it painful to return to less performance-oriented laptops.

Battery life: My computer has the extra-large battery so the XPS 15 can stay charged all day based on my on-and-off usage, as long as you turn down the display brightness to about 60 percent and don’t spend a lot of time watching movies or playing 1080p games. Battery life will jump appreciably if you opt for the cheaper version of the XPS 15 with a less-power-hungry, standard-resolution display.

Ports/connectors: The XPS 15 comes with an SD card slot, two USB 3.0 connectors, an HDMI port, and a USB-C/ThunderBolt 3 port.

Price: Pricing starts at $999 for a model with a standard-resolution (1,920-by-1,080) display and dual-core processor and jumps quickly into the $1,600 to $2,950 range if you opt for the high-resolution display and quad-core processor.

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Dell Cyber Monday 2015

Dell Cyber Monday 2015 sale revealed: Big discounts on laptops, HDTVs and more

By on November 23, 2015 at 7:55 PM.

Dell Cyber Monday 2015 sale revealed: Big discounts on laptops, HDTVs and more

It’s not even Black Friday yet and we’re already getting hit with details on companies’ big Cyber Monday sales. Walmart announced early on Monday morning that its big Cyber Monday 2015 sale will actually start on Sunday this year, and now Dell has released its full 6-page ad full of Cyber Monday bargains on laptops, desktops, peripherals, HDTVs and more. More →

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Opinions
PC Does What Microsoft Commercials

Microsoft does what?

By on October 17, 2015 at 9:45 AM.

Microsoft does what?

Back in the day when Apple was trying to reaffirm itself in the computer business and convince buyers that Macs were better than PCs, the company came up with a slew of Mac vs. PC ads that were just hilarious. But times have changed, Apple dropped the campaign, and the current computer business looks nothing like the one from last decade. Smartphones are dominant in this “post-PC” era, and laptop and desktop makers are struggling against a marked demand decrease – interestingly, the Mac is now doing a lot better than PCs in terms of profitability.

So Microsoft does whaaaaat? More →

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Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell XPS 13 Review: Better Than the MacBook Air

By on July 2, 2015 at 6:30 PM.

Dell XPS 13 Review: Better Than the MacBook Air

“I’ll give you my Mac when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” — might be the mantra of most Mac users. I can say that the new Dell XPS 13 is good enough to pry a MacBook from my — albeit animate — hands. I’ve been using the redesigned 2015 XPS 13 for the last several months and it was surprisingly easy to relegate my MacBook to backup status.

Here’s why: More →

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Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

A CES 2015 miracle: Dell made something that looks really cool

By on January 6, 2015 at 2:15 PM.

A CES 2015 miracle: Dell made something that looks really cool

As Dell’s long history of consumer electronics flops shows, it’s never really had a reputation for cutting-edge design. That said, it looks like going private has given the company more time to refine its game and it’s just unveiled a really nice-looking ultrabook at CES 2015. More →

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Dell XPS 15 Video OS X

Video: Dell’s plan to sell Windows 8 PCs: Pretend they run OS X

By on February 3, 2014 at 2:59 PM.

Video: Dell’s plan to sell Windows 8 PCs: Pretend they run OS X

It’s safe to say that Dell’s marketing team won’t be getting any special “thank you” cards from Microsoft this year. The Verge has spotted a new ad for Dell’s new Dell XPS 15 laptop that seemingly dual boots Windows 8 and OS X. Of course, the computer only runs Windows 8 and it looks like the advertising agency took a little too much creative license with the way it decided to show off its best features. The most comical part comes when the woman in the video swipes Windows 8’s Metro interface from the right-hand side of the screen and it immediately switches to OS X. The full video is posted below. More →

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Dell HDMI Dongle Android PC

Dell’s $130 dongle turns any screen into a full-featured Android PC

By on January 29, 2014 at 4:34 PM.

Dell’s $130 dongle turns any screen into a full-featured Android PC

While we wait patiently for the rise of the Android-powered TV, Dell has taken the initiative and released a portable HDMI dongle that can turn any screen with an HDMI or MHL port into an Android PC, complete with access to the cloud. The Wyse Cloud Connect clearly draws some inspiration from Google’s Chromecast, but based on the press release, Dell is targeting a more business-minded audience with its device. More →

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