Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Arrives at CES Discussion

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by Jerry Jackson, Jan 10, 2012.

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  1. Ryan

    Ryan NBR Moderator Moderator

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  2. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    I don't know how well a $3,000-4,500 notebook "holds its value." The Vaio Z is really just a Japanese home market curiosity. I read that the cheaper $2K variant shares its dismal 900P screen with the SA2, with 10 degree viewing angles. Honestly, I haven't been into a Sony Style Store in a long, long time.

    In any case, I'm not sure what the $2-5,000 Vaio Z has to do with a Dell notebook starting under $1,000?
     
  3. Pseudorandom

    Pseudorandom Notebook Evangelist

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    A bit more Googling. The 91% doesn't tell the whole story.

    Tech-Ex: Why Apple's 91% Market Share in $1,000+ PCs Isn't "All That"

    Let's see:
    -The numbers are brick and mortar store retail sales. Thus this doesn't count configured to order laptops and online retailers.
    -They are for consumers. The largest buyer of premium Windows laptops is probably businesses.
    -The number is awfully old. 2009... A lot has happened since 2009.

    I would take the 91% number as BestBuy failing, not Windows.

    Also. The Z 900p panel is not the SA 900p panel I believe. Not sure if its better though.
     
  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    You can build a Z2390X with the 1080p screen for $2,049. Got to Sony.com and see for yourself. Compared to a MacBook Pro 13 that costs $1300, it has similar form factor, but a vastly more powerful CPU (a non-ULV i5 instead of a ULV i5), carbon fiber instead of aluminum construction (like the Dell), a superior screen, and a dock with an external GPU and optical drive. So it costs more but it offers more too.

    Very true.
     
  5. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Thank you for the clarification. So Apple owns 91% of the $1000+ laptop market once you ignore online sales and business sales...wow. Since most $1000+ PC laptops are sold online (including mine) instead of through stores, that 91% statistic is utterly worthless.

    They're not the same panel; the SA is 13.3" and the Z2 is 13.1". Regardless, the 1080p panel is only a $100 upgrade...I suspect most go for the 1080p panel because it's so legendary. Yes, it has extraordinary pixel density, but there are ways to make icons and text larger...high pixel density doesn't have to mean tiny menus.
     
  6. lovelaptops

    lovelaptops MY FRIENDS CALL ME JEFF!

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    Huge inaccuracies must be corrected. There is not a scintilla of similarity between the Z's 900p screen and that of the SA - or any other 13" screen on the market today, or ever! The Z's 900p screen has:

    1) 1,146:1 contrast ratio - nothing comes close, IPS or otherwise

    2) Full sRGB color gamut and 85% Adobe RGB color gamut. For all but professional graphic artists - who would never do their work on a 13" screen - this is as close to perfect color as you can buy in a laptop, at any price

    3) 280-300nit brightness

    4)0.26cd/m black level at 280 nit brightness. Again, as close to perfection as it gets.

    FWIW, other than resolution and a bit wider (yet) color gamut, the Z's 900p display actually exceeds the specs of the 1080p screen. But both are miles and miles ahead of competition.

    It may be hard to justify $2,000 on a laptop with so many excellent ones in the $1,000 $1,500 price range, but you are getting quite a bit for the money. The build quality is superb, the screen needs no further discussion - not one ultraportable or "ultrabook" is remotely in the same league. The Z is the only product with SATA III SSDs in RAID0. Somehow I think 900mb/s sequential read speeds make for more impressive performance than the 200-200 on all the others, including the MBA.

    The PMD, while not as convenient as having the ODD and discrete gpu internal as in the Z1, is certainly a major and valuable feature compared to the other laptops in this category, none of which have blu ray drives - or any ODD nor the ability to have the use of a good mid range gpu.

    Put all of the above together, add the 2.5 lb weight and 12 hrs battery life with the sheet battery and, while it may cost $400-$900 more than its "competition," there is way more than that difference in value. Or would you really rather have an Asus Zen book or an MBA13? If so, get one, and enjoy!

    Off high horse. (PS: I don't own a Z2. I am so in love with my Z13 that I can't justify selling it to get a Z2. But if I didn't already have it's spectacular best-ever ultraportable, bar none, nothing remotely close, I would belly up to the bar for a new Z2. But I can afford it, and this is one of the things I indulge myself it. There is nothing electronic or mechanical I spend more hours of he day interacting with, and depending upon.
     
  7. Dell-Bill_B

    Dell-Bill_B Guest

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    That isn't a forced air exhaust vent. From what I read, Macbooks are not free of heat complaints. I guess I would have made my point better if I said the CF bottom is for heat shielding instead of heat dissipation.

    I disagree. I don't think a passive vent on the bottom is going to have much affect on whether the system overheats when placed on the lap. I also seriously doubt any significant heat will find its way out of that passive vent onto the user's skin. I'm pretty sure you can play a video with the XPS on your lap longer than you could stand the same video with a Macbook on your lap.


    Fair enough. I agree with you here, as long as I get to keep my CF on the base.

    Truer words were never spoken, but it's a little early to think of UB as having an insignificant impact, in all fairness.

    Stay tuned to the 14" screens coming out from us later this year. Can't talk specifics, but I think we may be able to meet you on some points. At least on NITS and resolution. Viewing angles and IPS remain to be seen.


    This is a very meaty topic, especially for marketing nerds like me. My team mate and I had a related discussion about this on something specific to Dell this morning. It basically comes down to how you tell your product story, how it plays out in the market, and how you take advantage of the movement of the classic supply and demand graph.

    (I'm avoiding the topic of Linux and Dell in the consumer space like the plague, in case you can't tell.)
     
  8. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    I didn't say the XPS 13 exhausted on the bottom. I don't know of a single notebook PC design that exhausts on the bottom, although most, but not all, have bottom vents for the intake of air.

    As far as the use of the composite bottom for heat shielding, I disagree with the concept. I want heat to radiated away from the CPU and chipset, in the most effective and energy efficient manner. Again, because of the bottom vent, it's pretty darned clear that the XPS 13 needs airflow through the bottom for cooling, so you probably need to keep the bottom vent clear and you can't use it on your lap, unlike a notebook with a smooth, ventless bottom. Unless you're willing to tell me otherwise, I'm guessing those slots are on the bottom for reason. I'm guessing that Dell wouldn't want owners to block those vents? They are functional aren't they?

    Second of all, Macbooks are very flexible when it comes fan controls thanks to the smcFanControl app. From my experience, Dell products have some very strange fan utilization issues and I personally own a Latitude that runs cooler under sustained full CPU loads (less than 50C) than it does under light loads or when idle (up to 60C), all thanks to some very odd power conservation priorities in BIOS. Weird, but true.



    Okay, I think you know enough about OS X to realize that Macbooks with Intel integrated graphics use a lot more CPU cycles when playing a Flash or Silverlight video, although we all know that Flash is going bye-bye and that while Microsoft swears that Silverlight is going to be supported until 2020, HTML5 is the future there too. It's also worth noting that OS X Lion generally seems to be more energy efficient as an OS than Windows 7 or 8, that some Macbooks do "throttle" with Windows 7, but not with OS X. So the power usage and heat issue isn't intrinsic to OS X but to two very obsolete video plugins.

    Flash is becoming a non-issue, especially as far as Youtube, but we all know that Silverlight has one, and only one, very popular application and I don't have any clue as to if or when this streaming provider plans on abandoning Silverlight. I do blame Microsoft for the instability of the Silverlight plugin, the lack of Linux support and the inefficiency of Silverlight in OS X. I blame Microsoft, and apparently with the HTML5 focus of Windows 8, even Microsoft is a bit disgusted with Silverlight.

    Flash is dead, or soon will be, so there's no reason to speak ill of the dead.

    Personally, I could care less whether composites are reinforced with fiberglass or carbon fiber. In either case, it's still just a polymer, or to use the layman's term, it's just plastic. Plastic. I said it. Toshiba has recently used fiberglass in the base of some notebooks. The technical term for fiberglass is really GRP, or glass-reinforced plastic. So to be fair, the base of the XPS 13 is probably correctly termed CFRP, or carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. Plastic.

    Now obviously, glass or carbon fibers are used for reinforcing material in many contexts. Carbon fiber is an excellent material in aerospace, because it is light and highly fatigue resistant, unlike metal. Personally, I don't think that the fatigue concern applies to a notebook PC. Nobody is going to repeatedly bend the bottom cover a notebook PC. Metal fatigue was never an issue in this context. It's a big deal if the aluminum wings fall off an airplane, but nobody flexes their Macbook until the metal unibody breaks in half.

    My own personal guess is that Dell is using "carbon fiber" because of the attractive pattern from the carbon fiber roving in the polymer. Carbon fiber is attractive and trendy. There are supposedly major supply constraints in term of metal case production capacity in China. Windows PC OEMs also face major cost constraints when it comes to the "ultrabook" market.

    I think we'll know whether the "ultrabook" was a success or a failure by this time next year - or perhaps even later. There are a lot of potential variables, and I'm even inclined to believe that we might see a series of clamshell ARM devices within the same form factor as the "ultrabook." Heck, Apple might go ARM with the entire Macbook Air line in another couple of generations. Sticking with the x86 instruction set, AMD might become a major ULV player. But technically, neither an ARM or AMD thin form factor notebook can be called an "ultrabook," and the Intel gameplan is still unfolding. I think that the term "ultrabook" will either come into common usage, or disappear entirely by time we see Haswell.



    Decent viewing angles can be accomplished with a TN screen. There isn't a single IPS screen in the entire Macbook Air or Pro lines. They're all TN.





    I can understand that, and for all I know, there might be strings attached to Intel's $300 million in "ultrabook" support, or at very least, the "ultrabook" moniker only seems to apply to Windows OEMs and has been withheld from the Macbook Air, despite the fact that Apple is using the same Intel ULV CPUs and the same form factor. So an "ultrabook" isn't an "ultrabook" if it doesn't ship with Windows preloaded, I guess.

    I know there are many issues for any Windows PC manufacturer when it come to preloading systems with a Linux distro, most notably with Microsoft itself. A lot of attention seem to be focused on the cost of the Windows SOA sticker on the bottom of the PC, but the real issue is that when a company is in the business of selling Windows PCs, that's precisely what they're selling. Dell is working for Microsoft, and not the other way around.

    Back before the Apotheker apocalypse at HP, there was apparently some talk about WebOS as a full-fledged x86 desktop alternative. Now, I'm not saying it would have worked, or that WebOS was anything but Palm inspired disaster, or that WebOS currently has a future in the FOSS world, but it goes to show that there was some sense of self preservation at HP. The same goes for Intel's Linux push in the form of Tizen, and believe me, Intel isn't planning on going ARM any time soon, but it does appear that there are cracks in the "Wintel" relationship.
     
  9. Pseudorandom

    Pseudorandom Notebook Evangelist

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    You want heat radiated into your lap? That's where the heat is going if you are using the bottom of the notebook as a big heatsink.

    Also, using the bottom as a heat radiator presents the same problem with vents on the bottom. Apple recommends that you put your MacBook on a flat stable surface for extended use because of this.

    I'm more of a Thinkpad guy than a Latitude guy, but I think that there are probably fan control utilities for Dell laptops as well. Configurable fan controls are hardly a Mac exclusive feature, Thinkpads have TPFanControl for example.

    Also, Macs radiate into your lap.

    What's wrong with plastic? CFRP is just plastic, so what?

    More quality TN's would be nice, but compare an iPad or X220 screen to a MacBook's screen. IPS has absolutely amazing angles.
     
  10. SemiExpert

    SemiExpert Notebook Consultant

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    It doesn't really matter if the presence of bottom vents preclude the use of the notebook on your lap to begin with?

    And personally, I can accept that a metal notebook case can either be warm or cool to the touch.

    There no vents on the bottom of a Macbook, and that's the entire point. You can put one down on textile surface, as there are no bottom vents to be blocked. This is the sheer genius of Macbook packaging.


    Yes, depending on the Dell model. I've had one Dell model that seems to defy all common sensor and fanspeed programs and I typically avoid all fan control utilities when a notebook is under warranty.

    I do know as a fact that Apple has smcFanControl in its own App Store and it seems to be unproblematic, free and universally applicable to modern Macbooks. It's almost a selling point for Macbooks.


    Nothing is wrong with plastic, at least not at lower price points. It's just that Dell pioneered superior cast magnesium case technology, and with the aluminum unibody Macbook Air leading the market, people expect a metal case.





    I agree that IPS is the solution for a handheld table, where viewing angle and brightness requirements are perhaps more demanding than for a clamshell notebook.

    Again, I do think that there are acceptable TN screens for notebooks. It's just that I have seen one outside of certain FHD 15.6 Windows notebooks. Between a 12.5" IPS X220 and a 15.6" FHD, there isn't very much that's affordable and worth recommending on the basis of viewing angles, other than Macbooks.
     
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