Dell’s XPS Z series heralds a return to elegance
It is somewhat funny thinking back over a decade when I worked for Forrester Research and remembering how they tried to get me to carry a Dell Latitude.
A decade later I find I am carrying a Dell XPS or Alienware notebook. I haven’t had a Toshiba in years, and I’ve discovered I don’t miss it. And today Dell launched their new z series which is a more elegant XPS.
The old XPS is reminiscent of a hot Dodge Charger, fast but heavy and a bit raw in terms of design. More of a performance statement, the Z series is like a Jaguar in exterior design (thank god it isn’t like one inside – I say that with love having owned two), elegant with less raw muscle but boasting a near artistic beauty.
So with the Dell XPS 15z - the first in what is expected to be a line of new more elegant Dell offerings - it is as much about what is outside the product as what is inside.
I saw one in a preview last week, as well as in raw form at CES back in January. From the way it is boxed and initially presented to the way it sits on your desk it is, at least to my eye, beautiful and something to be very proud of. Really, a far cry from that butt-ugly Latitude I so hated over a decade ago, and while the outside is stunning, the inside isn’t bad either.
It weighs in at around 5.5 lbs. which, while not ultra-light, isn't all that unusual, as performance notebooks are known to be 7 lbs. or more, so it is actually comparatively svelte. It can be purchased with Intel’s newest Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors, and boasts a choice of two Nvidia graphics cards, along with an optional 300-nit display. This is about 50% brighter than most, with a significantly higher resolution (1920x1080). According to Dell, at .97 inches it is also the thinnest 15" notebook in its class.
In addition, it is one of the first notebooks with HDMI 1.4, features MaxxAudio 3, and supports a 5.1 speaker system via the HDMI port. Battery life really isn’t bad with up to 8 hours (typically meaning you can bet on 5 hours), which isn’t shabby for a performance notebook. I’ve had performance notebooks loaded with massive batteries and you still ended up measuring battery life in minutes.
I love the new elegance that is drifting into PC products from a number of vendors but I’m particularly impressed with this new XPS. Had Dell made a product like this ten years ago I would have easily tossed aside my Toshiba for it. Sometimes change is a good thing, and this is clearly one of those times.