Dell XPS 13 Plus Hand-On: Is it … Touch Para?

Well, it’s time of year again: Dell has updated the XPS 13. It somehow – last year, I would have told you that this was not possible – made the device more sleek and seamless than ever.

The new XPS was officially announced at CES 2022, but got some time with the product in a pre-summary in December. With a slim frame, Dell logo, two USB Thunderbolt ports and built-in aluminum, it looks like the previous XPS 13 on the outside. But open the notebook and you will notice that a lot of things … have been flattered.

Here is a bird’s eye view.

First, Dell removed the functional array. This has been replaced by what the company calls the “capacitive touch function array”, which refers to the small LED buttons on a flat bar. Dell insists it is No. A touch bar (but this is, that is, a bar you touch to change things, so anyone whose brain immediately jumped to that comparison is valid, I see you), at that point, they have a standard. A set of functions such as actual function keys. The touch keys were responsive at the time of my brief test, and on the older MacBook Pro I never bothered about accidentally pumping them as I always do on the touch bar.

Another thing you might notice: there is no limited trackpad below the keyboard. Dell calls the XPS 13 “Haptic ForcePad”. Like the MacBook touchpads, it does not cause physical stress when you click; It recreates the feeling of depression. I imagine there may be some learning curve to figure out where you can click and what you can not click, however Dell thinks muscle memory can make it an issue.

Dell XPS 13 Plus Capacity Function Sequence Illuminated, viewed from the left side up close.

Absolutely no touch bar guys.
Photo: Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

Finally, the keyboard is now flush with the deck. This definitely creates an elegant look – the entire keyboard base is now a flat cod. This layout allows the keys to be wide because there is no space between them. I’m worried it’s like typing on a desk when I take it for a spin, but Dell says these keys still have the same 1mm travel as the keys did last year.

I would not say the keyboard was thin, but typing on most standard laptop keyboards was definitely a different experience, and although I could not measure my speed, I felt significantly slower than normal. I can imagine that people with bigger hands would appreciate this kind of system more than I do.

Two upwards shooter speakers are hidden under the keyboard (plus two downwards shooter speakers). I could not fully test these, but I have no problem listening to sample videos in Dell’s crowded demo location. Last year’s model (two speakers only) was decent, but audio upgrades on ultraportables are always welcome.

Another thing to note is that there will be an OLED display option. Last year’s OLED model It was $ 300 more than the equivalent FHD configuration and had several hours of battery life in my test – but if that kind of sacrifice is not a problem for you, that option is on the way.

The Dell XPS13 Plus keyboard deck illuminates a row of capacitive function from top to left.  The screen shows a blue Arctic background.

Guess where the touchpad is.

I will not lie, all these changes will not make me even a little nervous. Dell is not the only company making changes to its flagship ultraportable models to achieve a linear look and feel this year, but the XPS 13 Plus is by far the most serious expression I have ever seen. Although I tentatively accept the Touch Bar function line, I have not yet sold it on the keyboard and touchpad. The touchpad, in particular, was one of the features that made XPS 13 a winner in my book last year, and this one click feels remarkably thin and more complex.

But hey, I’m an old man, screaming towards the cloud. People prefer their thin, light, flat laptops, and these kinds of features may be the place to go for the market.

The Dell XPS13 Plus blue silk chair is viewed from the left.  The screen shows a blue background.

This is a new era for XPS.

XPS 13 Plus models will be shipped worldwide this spring. They are expected to start at $ 1,199. The base model comes with the 12th General Core i5 (these are still Intel exclusive – I know, I know), 8GB of RAM (LPDTR5), 256GB of SST and a 1920 x 1200 non-touch display. You can mention it up to 12th General Core i7, 1TB of storage and 4K touch display.

In our full review, I can provide additional posts and complete pricing information. In the meantime, I really hope the keyboard and touchpad will be in a “purchased taste” condition.

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