Dell declares the updated XPS 13 the 'world's smallest 13-inch laptop'

Pretty soon these laptops will be so small they'll be invisible, if the Dell XPS 13 is any indication.

The XPS15 is a more normal-looking laptop, albeit with a 4K display.

The XPS15 is a more normal-looking laptop, albeit with a 4K display.

One of these days I'm apparently going to unfold a piece of printer paper and find out it's secretly a laptop. That's the feeling I get when I see Dell throwing around claims like "smallest 13-inch laptop in the world" in reference to the new XPS 13. (Don't confuse it with the "lightest 13.3-inch laptop in the world," which Lenovo called dibs on yesterday.)

And sure, CES is full of claims that are of dubious use to anyone outside of marketing teams, but the XPS 13 is damn tiny. It's the same wedge shape made familiar by the MacBook Air, with a minimum height of 9mm, a maximum height of 15mm, and weighing in at 1.17kg -- literally less heavy than the power brick that came with this old Origin gaming laptop I use daily.

It looks sleek when opened, too, thanks to a diminutive 5.2mm bezel around the edge of its (optional) 3200x1800-pixel IPS touchscreen. There's less space wasted on the chassis, so whereas a typical 13-inch laptop might have an extra half-inch of casing on the sides and top, the XPS 13 basically ends where the screen ends.

Of course, Dell phrases this as "We cleverly fit a stunning 13.3-inch display in an 11-inch size laptop," which sounds great until you think about it and realize how insane that sounds, like Dell worked out the secret to quantum entanglement.

Inside the Dell XPS 13, you'll find a 5th-generation Intel Core processor, from an i3 clocked at 2.1GHz up to an i7 at 3.2GHz, alongside integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500 graphics, 4GB or 8GB of 1600MHz RAM, and a 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSD. Dell also claims fifteen hours of battery life, which is pretty impressive when paired with the laptop's tiny size and that 3200x1800 screen resolution. Oh, and did I mention the price starts at just $US800? Insane.

I have only one very minor qualm about the XPS 13 on paper: By shrinking the bezel on the top of the laptop, the integrated webcam is forced to move. It now sits underneath the bottom left corner of the screen, which seems like a suboptimal (read: completely weird) placement.

The Dell XPS 15 goes 4K

Dell's also updating the XPS 15, though not in the same manner as the XPS 13. Rather than focusing on an absurdly small bezel and a cheap price, Dell's instead allowing you to opt for a 4K touchscreen on the XPS 15 (though the baseline model comes with a standard 1920x1080 touch-enabled display).

Powering that display is a 4th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 and Nvidia's 750M graphics card. That's not a ton of power for a 4K display, so don't expect to play any 4K-enabled games on this thing. Still, if you're just hoping to watch some movies or whatever it should be plenty of horsepower.

And a super-powered display comes at a hefty cost -- $2,439. Considering 4K monitors are rapidly falling in price, you might be better off buying a beefier laptop and pumping it out to a standalone 4K display when you need it if that fits into your use case.

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Tags CESDellOriginCES 2015hardware systemsLenovolaptops

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Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
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