Introduction, Design, User Interface
Dell has long tried to enter the high-end luxury laptop market. These attempts have always been met with mixed results. While Dell’s thick, power and relatively affordable XPS laptops are a good pick for people needing a desktop replacement, they don’t cause the thinness-obsessed media to salivate.
Enter the Dell XPS 15z. It’d be easy to think that it’s a MacBook Pro clone considering its similar pricing and silver exterior, but reality is simpler then that. This is just an XPS 15 that has been slimmed down. Like the standard XPS laptops, the 15z follows a form-balanced-by-function approach that is common among all of Dell’s laptops.
Slimming the chassis has forced the use of some less powerful components, but our review unit still arrived with some impressive hardware. Let’s have a look.
Introduction, Hardware Vendors
This year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Trade Show brought together many small and global companies with computer hardware and information technology backgrounds as well as creative industries that produce art, music, and movies. SXSW interactive badge holders and showcased artists got an inside look at the newest innovations in mobile social media platforms and applications, open source web content management systems, professional audio/video technologies, and other multimedia products.
Since I write for PC Perspective, I narrowed the focus of my trade show coverage to companies creating innovative computer hardware, PC and Mac peripherals, and other gadgets that may interest our readers. I also scoured the rest of the trade show for the best booth babes handing out swag and watching other fun, promotional events to get expo visitors to engage with companies to find out more about their products.
See our video coverage of the SXSW Trade Show!
Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 04:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: dell, vostro V131
Dell's Vostro line offers a wide variety of models from a $400 Celeron ULV based model with 2GB of memory and a 320GB HDD to the $825 model that Hardware Canucks reivewed. That model gives you more power, with an i5 2430M, 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD with a 13.3" 1366x768 LED screen. The 6-cell battery doesn't quite last as long as models with an 8-cell battery but still beat most other competitors 6-cell models. There were a few issues that arose during the review, not least of which is the lack of a dock. For home users who do not worry about such extras, the review is well worth checking out.
"Dell has been angling most of their product stack towards value oriented market segments and the newest addition to the Vostro lineup –the V131- seems to follow this same path but with some interesting twists along the way. As with many of Dell’s notebooks, it is available in a number of flavors ranging in price from just $399 to $900. Unfortunately, Dell's website has it is tucked away from the prying eyes of most end users."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Sony VAIO Z Series VPC-Z390X Review @ TechReviewSource
- Lenovo ThinkPad X220 @ Kitguru
- Samsung Chromebook Series 5 Review @ HardwareLOOK
- Alienware X51: The Xbox With Teeth @ AnandTech
- HP Pavilion dm4-3090se Beats Edition Review @ TechReviewSource
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- NewerTech NuGuard GripStand 2 and GripBase Bundle for iPad 2 @ Tweaktown
- Luxa2 H6 Portable iPad Stand Review @ eTeknix
- Apple Ipad 2 vs Asus Transformer Prime @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Galaxy Note @ Techspot
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review @ Tech-Reviews
- HTC Titan Windows Phone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- ASUS Padfone Preview @ VR-Zone
- Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (Krait) Performance Preview - 1.5 GHz MSM8960 MDP and Adreno 225 Benchmarks @ AnandTech
- The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (Krait) Preview Part II @ AnandTech
Subject: General Tech | January 19, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: dell, nvidia, insider trading, tech, Law, ethics
There is an important distinction between working within the confines of the law to make the most profit possible and going outside those lines to make a profit while hoping you don't get caught. To drive that point home, the FBI has stated "what distinguishes you from the dozens who have been charged is not that you haven’t been caught; it’s that you haven’t been caught yet." Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk wrote that when referring to a recent bust of seven individuals accused of insider trading of Dell and Nvidia stock. The arrests, made as part of Operation Perfect Hedge, include seven men who are connected by "friendship or business association."
Thanks to three of the seven men cooperating with the FBI, we know that the men used information about Dell and Nvidia's quarterly earnings prior to any public release of such earnings documents to purchase stock to resell after positive earning documents caused the stock value to increase or to short their stock to avoid losses that would be incurred by lower than expected quarterly earnings causing the stock price to drop. On the Dell side of things, two employees in the know provided quarterly earnings numbers to various hedge funds. The first employee, Sandy Goyal, is charged with providing a hedge fund with Q1 earning results for 2008 in exchange for $175,000. The hedge fund then used that insider information to make $3.8 million dollars. Another (former) Dell employee, Jesse Tortora furnished three hedge funds with quarterly earnings numbers who each then made $4 million on Q1 information and $53 million on the Q2 information, $1 million in profit, and the final Hedge fund avoided #78,000 in losses by selling stock before the inevitable price drop thanks to knowing the negative earning numbers before hand.
Finally, Danny kuo knew someone who worked at Nvidia and provided information to the other members of the insider trading group.
Let this be a lesson to those business folks that slept through ethics classes, stay away from insider trading, especially when you are paid for the information as you are just asking to get caught. (Cue the "Cops" theme song). Normally we don't cover this kind of news; however, I thought it applicable since it involves Dell and Nvidia. Also, speaking of quarterly earnings, Josh will have all the details from today's Intel Earnings Call up soon.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | January 18, 2012 - 07:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GTX 555, GT 545, dell, alienware
Alienware has been long known for two things: having interesting case designs, and being prohibitively expensive. For the last five years or so, Alienware has been a subsidiary of Dell to displace their gaming XPS product line into a non-gaming higher-end line. They have recently announced their X51 product line as Jeremy noted earlier, but what does that mean for someone interested in PC Gaming?
Like how it looks? Dude, you’re getting a Dell!
Jeremy’s post went through the range of base models and their associated prices. The main product page listed the features of the higher-end base unit along with two other points: the chassis can be vertically or horizontally mounted; and you can upgrade your core components easily. While the latter statement is great to make, it should also be noted that with a maximum 330W power supply, your upgrade options -- while potentially easy -- are quite limited.
The choice in video cards is split between the GeForce GT 545 and the GeForce GTX 555: these are both OEM-only GPUs and thus benchmarks are at this time difficult to find. The GT 545 contains 144 CUDA cores clocked at 870/1740 MHz with the memory clocked at 1998 MHz. Should you opt for the higher-end GTX 555, your GPU contains exactly twice the CUDA cores (288) clocked slightly slower at 776/1553 MHz and a slightly lower memory clock of 1914 MHz.
Dude, you regretting a Dell?
In terms of Alienware-specific perks, Alienware has developed the “Alienware Command Center”; this application allows you to customize the lighting on your chassis as well as control programs and tweak your system. While a nice value-addition, it is obviously more gimmicky than practical; but really, isn’t that a large portion of why you are purchasing an Alienware computer? At least they look to be decent gimmicks. The price also does not appear to be too high compared to what you are getting from what I can tell. You would obviously be in a better position to assemble a desktop yourself and probably even commission your local small business computer store to do it for you, but the Alienware’s price does not appear to be in a distant galaxy.
So what do you think?
Subject: Systems | January 18, 2012 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X51, dell, alienware
(edit: the models were corrected)
The base model is $700 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i3-2120 3MB 3.3GHz, 4GB DDR 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GT 545 video card with 280W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD Burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
The high end model is priced at $1149 and features:
- 2nd Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB 1333Mhz Dual Channel memory
- 1GB GDDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 555 video card with 330W PSU
- Slot-loading Dual Layer DVD burner
- Integrated Wireless LAN card (standard)
You can go bigger than that with the X51 so if you are looking to buy a boutique PC check out Alienware's X51.
Also, check out Scott's complimentary article to this one.
There are many ultrabooks, but not all of them are given a specific introduction by Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini. That honor was reserved for Dell’s new XPS 13 during Tuesday's Intel keynote. So what’s so special about it?
To find out, we meet with Dell representatives packing not only the new XPS 13 but also a number of competing ultrabooks. One of the main points that Dell made during the Intel keynote was that the XPS 13’s Gorilla Glass display allows for thin bezels, in turn reducing overall display size and allowing for a reduction in the laptop’s dimensions. Though it has a 13” display, it is much smaller than many other thin laptops such as the MacBook Air and the ASUS UX31.
The use of Gorilla Glass combined with the XPS 13’s machined aluminum lid creates a rigid structure. Some ultrabooks available today have problems with display flex, as Dell demonstrated with a Toshiba Protégé ultrabook they brought along. Another smart decision is the XPS 13’s display hinge, which is nearly as wide as the chassis. A large hinge such as this reduces display wobble, a problem that can occur when typing on some ultrabooks.
The bottom of the XPS 13 is made of carbon fiber covered with soft-touch paint. I asked Dell’s representatives if the entire bottom of the chassis was carbon fiber, something I doubted due to reasons of cost. They insisted that it was.
Using carbon fiber of course saves weight, but in this case it isn’t used to provide an ultrabook that is lighter than anything else on the market. At about 3 pounds, the XPS 13 is only on par with the competition. Instead, the weight savings appears to have been re-invested in the use of sturdier materials, such as the wide hinge that I mentioned earlier.
Open the XPS 13 and you’ll be introduced to a black interior coated in soft touch paint identical the bottom of the chassis. The contrast between the interior and the silver aluminum creates a complimentary aesthetic that reminds me of a tuxedo. Using the soft touch paint also gives the laptop a warmer, more inviting feel. I am a little worried that the paint will end up absorbing oils from your hands over time, but it looks and feels great when new.
As for the keyboard, well – it’s average. It uses plastic keys with a semi-touch coat in the typical island style, creating the laptop’s least attractive feature. Mind you, key feel is okay and there’s nothing functionally wrong, but I do think flatter keys with a completely matte finish would have been more appropriate. Backlighting is standard and turns on automatically when the webcam detects a low-light environment. Quality was a bit hard to judge during my time with the device because we were in a brightly lit area.
Touchpad quality struck me as excellent. It’s large and integrates the left/right buttons into the touchpad itself. Materials match the surrounding palmrest in color. I had only a few chances to try multi-touch scrolling, but it seemed to work well.
Standard equipment includes a Core i5 low-voltage processor and a 128GB solid state drive. As a result, the laptop boots within about 10 seconds and can resume in between 1 and 2 seconds. These are not Dell’s official claims, but rather what I observed personally. Display resolution is the standard 1366x768. I can’t say much about quality as I didn’t have the chance to view test images.
Dell has included a 47Wh battery in the XPS 13, which should provide up to 9 hours of battery life. This claim is made during testing with WiFi off and should be viewed as a best-case scenario. I anticipate that we’ll see about 6 hours of life during standard usage with WiFi on. If the XPS 13 can manage that, it will be above average for the category.
Pricing starts at $999, which is less than I expected given the quality of this device. Because ultrabooks all have extremely similar hardware it is traits like design and battery life that will distinguish the winners from the losers. From my brief time with the XPS 13, it seems Dell may have one of the winners. I will be looking to grab a review unit over the next few weeks so the laptop can be tested in full.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
The Dell S2330MX 23" LED monitor is advertised as a thin display but not in the dimensions most people hope. The screen body its self is a hair under 10mm thick which significantly reduces its footprint on your desk. Unfortunately for you multi-monitor gamers out there the bezel remains the same size and will interfere with your view. On the plus side, Hardware Canucks found it for sale for under $200 which makes it quite a good deal for a thin LED monitor. On the other hand, as you might guess from that low price this is a TN based display and apparently not a particularly good example as they saw evidence of ghosting and frustrating colour quality issues.
"When it comes to consumer electronics, thin is in and Dell is leading the way with their new svelte S2330MX monitor. At just 9.9mm thick it will likely be the center of attention but on paper it also boasts some great specifications as well: an efficient LED panel, full HD resolution, a great price and response times of 2ms. It sure sounds like the 2330MX has what it takes to compete with the competition but there's more to this monitor than what first meets the eye."
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- ViewSonic V3D231 3D Display - The Passive Approach @ AnandTech
- ViewSonic V3D231 3D-Ready 23-inch LCD Monitor Review @ ThinkComputers
- Samsung S23A750D 3D LCD Display @ AnandTech
- BenQ VW2420H @ AnandTech
- Hanns.G HL231 Monitor Review @ Tech-Review
- Samsung PN59D8000 59 Inch 3D Plasma TV Review @ Tweaknews
- StarTech.com DisplayPort to VGA Converter Review @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: Editorial | December 15, 2011 - 01:57 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: ssd, podcast, ocz, nvidia, macbook pro, Intel, hdd, gigabyte, dell, apple, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #182 - 12/15/2011
Join us this week as we talk about the Intel Core i7-3930K, AMD 7000 Series rumors, a new low price SSD from OCZ and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:32 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:54 Dell Inspiron 14z Notebook Review: A Portable Workhorse
- 0:03:57 Gigabyte E350N-USB3 Fusion Mini ITX Motherboard Review
- 0:08:12 Video Perspective: Antec Eleven Hundred Case Review
- 0:12:20 Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E Processor
- 0:23:27 This Podcast is brought to you by
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:24:15 Some Details About AMD’s 7000 Series Graphics Cards Leak To Internet
- 0:27:00 Bad for reviewers, great for gamers ... AMD will allow non-reference Tahiti graphics cards
- 0:32:10 How much of PCI-E 3.0 is just marketing speak right now
- 0:36:05 OCZ Technology Petrol SATA 6Gbps SSDs Reduce SSD Deployment Costs by Thirty Percent (Hynix flash)
- 0:42:30 Two Catalysts from AMD; 11.12 and a highly recommended preview version of 12.1
- 0:45:05 Intel Scales Back Sales Outlook Due To Hard Drive Shortage
- 0:50:10 Apple May Bring High Pixel Density Displays To MacBook Pro Notebooks
- 0:57:56 Voicemail - 3d gaming, special graphics card, what games, etc?
- 1:03:54 Voicemail - SSDs - SF drive and Gaming
- 1:07:12 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: 4GB to 8GB of memory - do it!!
- Jeremy: How have I never thought of this? Also, the 3930K since it proved to be about 95%+ of the performance for about 60% of the cost ... if you can find it
- Josh: You Monster!
- Allyn: Cheap SSD's for the holidays, do it!
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Introduction and Design
When I think of inexpensive workhorse laptops, Inspiron is one of the first names that comes to mind. This may partially be because HP remains oddly committed to a strange number-based naming scheme that’s as easy to remember as my second cousin’s birthday, but it’s also because the Inspiron is as common as rice. In college, they seemed to be the most popular Windows PC by far, and they’re still sold by most brick-and-mortar electronics stores despite Dell’s significant online presence.
Part of the reason for this popularity is price, and that means Inspirons are often competent, but can also be a bit dull. There’s always exceptions to the rules, however, and Dell has decided to spice up the brand with the new Inspiron 14z. Starting at $599, this “thin and powerful” laptop could be appealing consumers who want to get on the slim-and-sexy train for cheap, but trying to cram a lot of hardware in a small chassis with an inexpensive price can sometimes result in compromises. Did Dell have to cut corners to make this possible?