Dell XPS 14z review

4 Nov 2011

A powerful, portable and handsome-looking system that won’t break the bank

Price when reviewed: 
850inc VAT
5

Tracking the progression of Dell’s XPS brand through the years reveals an interesting trend. Initially a set of all-singing, all-dancing gaming desktops and laptops, the range is now far more interesting, as the handsome, consumer-focussed XPS 14z demonstrates.

The styling is heavily influenced by Apple’s MacBook Pro range. The 14z’s design isn’t quite unibody, with the top slice of plastic surrounding the keyboard a separate component, but the almost all-in-one construction looks good and means the 14z feels convincingly well made.

Flip it over and the minimalist approach to Windows’ licensing stickers makes the 14z feel very Apple. It might not be terribly original but it’s hard to deny the machine’s visual appeal.

Dell XPS 14z - front shot

The screen is covered by edge-to-edge glass, which looks extremely smart. For one thing, it makes the bezel look thinner – at the side it’s 1cm thick, but with the glass covering most of that and melding seamlessly into the panel it looks like a lot less.

The only drawback is that the glass itself is very reflective. Those working under bright fluorescent lights will need to find a decent angle that doesn’t reflect too much of the background.

The 1,366 x 768 resolution is par for the course on a 14in laptop, but there’s adequate space for working, and on the plus side the panel’s incredibly bright – almost enough to overcome the reflective finish.

Dell XPS 14z - keyboard

Aside from the screen, the rest of the machine follows its larger sibling, the Dell XPS 15z very closely. The chiclet keyboard has keys with rounded edges and indents, and it’s backlit to aid typing in the dark.

The action of the keys is a little shallow for our liking, particularly compared to the luxurious keyboards of Lenovo’s business laptops, but touch-typists will have no hassle getting up to speed.

As with a few laptops we’ve seen recently, the trackpad is multitouch. And, as with many of those other laptops, gestures such as pinch-to-zoom don’t work terribly well. Others, such as a four-fingered flick to the right, which produces the Alt-Tab screen, work reasonably.

Details

Price ex VAT £708
Price inc VAT £850
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 353 x 247 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight 1.920kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2430M
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 14.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 520M
Graphics card RAM 1,000MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk Western Digital
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 1
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
SD card reader yes
Pointing device type touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 14min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 31min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.67
Responsiveness score 0.80
Media score 0.70
Multitasking score 0.52

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Partition