Dell XPS 15z 15.6in Core i5 notebook
How to clone a MacBook...
Review When the 15z was announced there was no small amount of fanfare, not least due to Dell’s interesting claim that this was the thinnest 15in laptop in existence. In no time at all, it had been pointed out that the accompanying asterisk needed to be the size of an actual star, since the machine the 15z was aping, the Apple MacBook Pro, was actually thinner by a disastrous 0.02in.
Very metal: Dell's XPS 15z
That’s not the only comparison to Apple’s kit you can make, either. Fold the 15z shut and you can all but hear Apple’s IP lawyers twitching for the phone – from the rounded edges to the slot-loading dual layer DVD-writer on the side, this is a machine that is as good-looking as it is wanting in design originality.
Still, if a laptop’s worse sin is looking too much like a MacBook Pro it can probably be forgiven, but the 15z takes inspiration beyond that. In an effort to keep the underside sleek and seamless, Dell has opted to make the battery a sealed-in effort.
Not a unibody construction, but not a bad bluff
The 15z doesn’t have a unibody design – the palm rest is mag alloy, but the bottom is aluminium and can be removed to access the innards. However, once all the screws are out, removing the rather bendy base required more force than I was willing to apply to a thousand-pound laptop belonging to someone else.
On the plus side, there’s nothing wrong with the battery. Tasked with doing nothing, with the screen at half brightness and connected to a Wi-Fi base station, the 15z ran for eight hours 38 minutes, which is impressive indeed. Working flat out, with the screen at full brightness the battery lasted two hours 19 minutes, so those doing a spot of word processing or watching a film can expect a comfortable time somewhere between the two.
Next page: Performance charts
Since so much of this review is taken up with comments about how much the 15z resembles the MacBook perhaps the author could suggest how Dell could have made a thin 15.6" laptop look any different? Make it circular? Have all the corners return at a sharp 90 degrees? Make it out of bakelite?
It's as idiotic as claiming the A380 is a rip-off of the 747 because it has a rounded nose and two engines under each wing or the Nissan Micra is a clone of the Vauxhall Corsa because it has a wheel at each corner and three doors.
To anyone who knows zero about cars the Micra and Corsa look identical. To anyone who knows anything about laptops the 15z and MacBook don't. Adopting a Bloody Obvious design for a given product is not cloning/copying/lazy design it's simply form following function.
Have to say I love it...
I've had the 15z with the Core i7 chip and 8Gb RAM for a couple of months now and have to say have been bowled over by the machine both from a performance perspective and indeed its look and feel. Everyone has of course given reference to the Macbook issue of course - one which I can understand but never agree with. Do we criticise all HDTV's for looking effectively identical? Can you possibly be hugely diverse in your approach to designing and constructing something which has a recognised form factor and is built for utility? At the end of the day I do't care - one for the Fanboi's to argue over incessantly no doubt.
At the end of the day it's all about how it performs for YOU the user and this machine presses all my buttons:
1. More than powerful enough to cope with every running app I require for my business life ranging from the usual Office suspects to Xen Center, VShpere Client and Virtualbox all at the same time.
2. Functional enough to ensure I don't need to revert to other devices - the card reader is a particular boon for Video and Photo importing.
3. Runs any current games of choice albeit at lower resolutions than perhaps my dedicated gaming machine can cope with. (Deus Ex: Human Revolution runs respectably at the 1366 x 768 resolution point for example)
Only two gripes with this one which people need to be aware of:
1. Lack of USB ports - The Macbook wins here
2. You can cook an egg on the keyboard when running the Radeon for any length of time.
Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a stylish yet powerful desktop replacement.
"Those big dust gathering vent grilles on either side of the keyboard went out with the unibody"
err...those would be speaker grilles not air vents.
I'm not sure about your conclusion. If you want a proper full HD screen Apple simply don't offer that option on the 15" model and its the one thing that has always held me back from buying a mac.
It will be interesting to see what the cost of the 15" macbook pro with the 2.7ghz processor is when its released later this month. Its going to a lot nearer £2,000 compared to the £1229 Dell wants for the same specification machine.
Actually I'd say that the 15z does a halfway decent job of differentiating on the detailing. It has sloping front and side edges, where the MBP is completely plum-bob vertical. It has a two tone border around the screen, primarily charcoal with an outer rim of black. The lid is slightly smaller than the base resulting in a interesting profile when closed. There's that glossy metal trim around the top edge of the base.
The difference on the edge is really clear from the image on CNET.
The only thing I think is a bit cheesy is that they seem to have gone with exactly the same silver anodized finish. They could have used a colour anodized surface, black would be nice - and thermally superior.