Monday, April 12, 2021
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Dell XPS 13 9300 review: Soul and substance for the workaholic

Dell XPS 13 9300 review: Soul and substance for the workaholic
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Before the lockdown, most people apart from tech connoisseurs wanted just the basics from their PC, but in the past months of work-from-home life, the relationship between user and product has evolved and the demands from a PC are more intricate. Meeting many of these demands is the Dell XPS 13 9300, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Expo 2020 in Las Vegas. It took its time to make a home in India, when it was finally launched on July 8, its timing was spot on.

Packaging-wise, Dell maintains its stance on using minimal material, all of which are recyclable or reusable, such as bamboo moulded pulp. In the box is the ultrabook itself, the 45 Watt AC adaptor and charging cord, and the basic supporting documentation.

Specifications

  • Dimensions & weight: Height: 14.8 mm, Width: 296 mm, Depth: 199 mm | Starting weight: 1.2 kg
  • Display: 13.4-inch 4K Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) ; InfinityEdge touch display, HDR 400, 500-nit ; 100% sRGB + DCI-P3 90% color gamut ;1500:1 contrast ratio, 0.65% anti-reflective, anti-smudge | 13.4-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge display, 500-nit, 100% sRGB color gamut, 1800:1 contrast ratio, anti-glare | All panels – Dolby VisionTM, 178° wide viewing angle +/- 89° / 89° / 89° / 89°, Eyesafe technology
  • Webcam: 2.25 mm, four-element lens

Visually pleasing

My review unit was the appealing Platinum Silver variant. This 13-inch ultrabook is not only light at just over 1.2 kilograms, the aluminium body is also polished to be grip-friendly with a tempting sheen. The hinge is comfortably rigid and the device opens and closes, with ease and finality respectively.

The focus remains the display. Open the ultrabook and the first thing I noticed was there was no Dell logo under the screen — something Dell users are quite used to seeing. This is to make the most of the redefined InfinityEdge display, which also facilitates the top camera placement. This larger 16:10 display ensures that whatever you are using the XPS 13 9300 for, is the focus; one can barely see the camera.

The hinge of the Dell XPS 13 9300 is comfortably rigid

The hinge of the Dell XPS 13 9300 is comfortably rigid
 
| Photo Credit:
Divya Kala Bhavani

The EyeSafe Technology tamps down the amount of harmful blue light, while still letting the 4K UHD+ VESA-certified DisplayHDR 400 panel sing in over 16 million colours. The XPS 13 9300 is not just for work as streaming and gaming displays come across well on this device. The display comprises a comfortable 500 nits and 100% RGB colour gamut, as well as a 0.65% anti-reflective coating to minimise glare if you work in varying lighting conditions. This means multimedia work comes across smoothly here, whether you are using Photoshop editing videos, or engaging in graphic design.

The keyboard and carbon-fibre palm rest of the Dell XPS 13 9300

The keyboard and carbon-fibre palm rest of the Dell XPS 13 9300
 
| Photo Credit:
Divya Kala Bhavani

The keyboard design of the XPS 13 9300 is ‘ergonomics rethought’. The keys have a satisfying curvature, so when typing, there are no awkward angles to each press, but rather an easy flow to your input. The finish on the keys have a plushness, too. And sound-wise, the typing is a relatively quiet experience, so if you are gaming or rushing to meet a deadline, your focus is on the task at hand sans the clickity-clack of keys.

The palm rest is also a considerate feature; made of carbon fibre, these little ‘stitched ridges’ offer some grip for your palm while you type or browse on the sizeable trackpad.

Performance, upped

As expected the XPS 13 9300, despite its diminutive size, is able to handle heavy-duty activity on a robust four-cell 52 Whr (Watt hour) ‘smart’ lithium-ion battery that lasts 12 hours on switching between streaming and gaming, and 16 hours on browsing and basic work. Of course, this may vary for other users depending on standby modes and restart routines.

This addition to the XPS 13 family should make the Windows 10 community proud. The latest 10th Gen Intel Core processors offer between 3.40 – 3.90 GHz, depending on your customisation of the ultrabook. Paired with a hefty Wi-Fi 6 router, the XPS 13 9300’s Killer AX1650 makes for uninterrupted online workflow or streaming. With all this, the device did not heat up as much thanks to the GORE Thermal Insulation.

A missed opportunity?

Prioritising a set of functions constantly means a few other features in a device get the short end of the stick. The webcam quality, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired at just 0.92 megapixels for a still image and 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second for video recording. After all, with video-chat conferences becoming more of a quotidian requirement — even before the lockdown — Dell could have upped the quality here, making for a missed opportunity. However, those who have the extra buck can invest in a standard external webcam and hook it to the system.

An aerial shot of the Dell XPS 13 9300

This may not be easy with just the two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, microSD card slot, and a microphone and headphone jack. Set up an adaptor system if you are planning on bringing this home. Though it defends its corner in the high-end segment, I still feel the XPS 13 9300 could offer more in terms of hardware, as do its competitors that offer ultrabooks starting at ₹70,000.

As more people do their best to shift away from Chinese brands, US-based Dell’s products, though assembled in China still maintain its loyal user base across individual users and corporate entities. If you plan on getting this ultrabook, the in-device support module helps you find your nearest authorised service centres and get speedy help from up-to-date engineers, either virtually or in-person, depending on your issue.

The XPS 13 9300 starts at ₹1,44,807 and is available at major retailers.

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