Beneath the aluminium cladding and custom touch sensitive function bar of the latest Dell XPS is one of the new Sandybridge processors from Intel. The new i5 CPU actually performs better than the older i7, and we’ll even go as far as to say this is about as fast as you’ll ever need a laptop to be, unless you’re into video editing or image manipulation on the move.
The XPS isn’t just about some extra CPU slickness either though. Slip a Blu-ray into the drive and you can make full use of the 1920x1080 screen, which is bright, crisp and colourful.
However, what hits you first is not the visuals but the awesome sound. It may take a while to fathom where all that meaty oomph is coming from, and it seems bizarre that the comparatively small subwoofer tucked underneath is responsible, but the JBL-engineered speakers will definitely change the way you think about laptop sound.
The HD theme follows through to the Skype-approved webcam, which manages to capture 720p video without fuss or dropping frames.This model also features an integrated digital tuner, so if you’re lucky enough to be able to pick up a signal on the mobile aerial included, you can watch your pick of Freeview. Sadly, it’s DVB-T only, so that’s means no hi-def telly, and inexplicably it’s left to the user to work out that Windows Media Centre is to act as your conduit to televisual delights.
Any port in a storm
With USB 3 and eSATA ports, this XPS is sorted for external storage should you need any, but you’ll probably be more interested in the mini Display Port or HDMI connectors which can shift your video to an external 3D display thanks to some trickery from the onboard NVidia graphics card.
What literally brings the XPS down to earth is the gravitational pull on its almost 3kg of mass. Mainly this is due to the battery, which to be fair does keep it chugging away for over 8 hours.
The XPS is not quite perfection in laptop form, but considering it’s loaded down with goodies and outperforms hardware going for twice the price, it demands to be considered by anyone after a powerful portable.
Dell XPS 15 L501x
Exceptional performance and features for a knock-down price