You and your collegues have offices, but company executives have Offices. The workers may have laptops, but the execs have Laptops. And those laptops either are, or look like, the new Dell XPS 15, and they include a solid-state drive (SSD), high-end processor, and an eye-dazzling screen. The XPS 15 laptop we tested—with an LED backlight touch display sporting a QHD+ resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels in a 15.6-inch screen covered with Gorilla Glass—is an executive laptop, desktop replacement, bling machine. An arm wearing a $50 watch does not carry a laptop like this.
The Hollywood Out-of-Box Experience
Unboxing a new laptop is always fun, but opening the XPS elevates that experience. The outer box looks like every other laptop shipping box. But the inside box, in matte black with a photo of a beautiful red flower glued to the front, looks all the world like a big jewelry box—with the XPS 15 nestled inside.
Machined from a piece of solid aluminum, the cover of the XPS 15 is deep silver like the paint on a new Mercedes. You can almost see the three-pointed star in the circle behind the Dell logo with the brightly reflective lazy E stamped into the matte silver top. The bottom half is carbon fiber, which is harder to recognize, but adds strength with little extra weight.
The backlit chicklet keyboard is set 2 inches from both sides of the machine so it doesn't have a separate numeric keypad. But it does have a large touchpad set into a nonmetallic surface made of silicone that is both durable and very nice to the touch. Even the power brick has been well designed: Dell gave it a more rounded shape and moved the light that indicates the power cord is plugged in from the brick to the cord connector itself. That's a much more logical location because it's easier to see.
Nice to touch and durable describe the 15.6-inch screen as well. When you first bring it up, the unusually empty (little bloatware) tile (aka Metro) interface seems sharper than normal, but you don't know why. When you get to the real business desktop, the same red flower from the front of the laptop presentation box appears as the desktop image but with more color depth and detail than you've ever seen in a laptop display. Yes, even if you're an owner of a MacBook Pro with Retina display, this display is better (3200 x 1800 pixels versus 2880 x 1800).
Powering the QHD+ resolution is an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5. Perhaps Dell’s corporate office has learned some tricks about high-end graphics from its Alienware division? Appears so, because the results make our retinas happy.
Windows 8.1 Touch Enabled edition works as well as ever. The screen accuracy seems pretty good. Saying the Gorilla Glass screen feels different would be a stretch, but it seems to resist dirt better than other laptop screens. We didn't try scratching it to see how much damage protection it offered, however.