Last month I started working on a new laptop, the Dell XPS 15. This is Dell’s premium notebook, combining performance with design and competing with the MacBook Pro.
I’ve always liked the hardware of the MacBook Pro (lightweight, compact, good screen, fast hard drive) but, after multiple attempts, I never really warmed up to Mac OS. Fortunately new offerings like this Dell hit pretty close to the mark and still give me the Windows tools I seek (without having to deal with Apple at all).
The biggest win by far of this notebook is its screen, a stunning 15.6″ 3200 x 1800 touchscreen Gorilla Glass display. For movies it is absolutely stunning but even text in basic productivity apps seems much clearer and sharper. This notebook model is already more than a year old and still has a better display than the current MacBook Pro (2880 x 1800), so I’ll be excited to see what the next generation offers.
The next win is the 512 GB SSD hard drive. It is so screamingly fast that this is the first Windows notebook I have ever owned that actually provides “instant on” functionality. I don’t use too many data-intensive applications so I can’t speak to its speed at I/O but, for rapid startup, it is transformative.
The battery life is also very good. Despite the big display, I am easily getting 6-9 hours use between charges (depending, of course, on how hard I’m pushing it), which is more than adequate to sustain me during travel or meetings. I’m not sure I’ve even used my charger outside of the home or office yet.
My one reservation for this computer was that it only came with Windows 8.1. I liked Windows 7 just fine and I hadn’t heard great things about 8.1. So far, though, I have been pleased – not blown away – by 8.1. It isn’t radically different than 7, but it offers a more app-like launch experience, which is prevalent on all of my other devices. I’m still not using the touch screen as much as I could, but I’ll get there.
All in all I have been very pleased with the Dell XPS 15. It’s fast, light, not too power hungry, and has an amazing display. If there are others out there who want MacBook Pro-ish hardware with a Windows experience, this is it.