Our First Impressions Of Dell's MacBook Air Look-Alike

Not many gadgets try to compete with Apple at the high-end these days.

Despite Apple’s famous dominance of expensive gadgets, that’s exactly the impression I got from my first day with the Dell XPS 13 laptop.

As an Ultrabook, the XPS is clearly meant to compete against Apple’s MacBook Air.

But instead of making a cheap, slim-and-light “me-too” gadget, Dell packed a touchscreen with 1080p resolution into a body that looks and feels premium.

That quality comes at a surprising cost: Dell’s laptop actually costs $US1,299, $US100 more than a MacBook Air with roughly the same processor and memory.

Here's the box Dell's laptop came in -- not exactly the sexiest package in the world.

Thankfully, that package contained a smaller box with a design that better reflects the price of the device within.

It opens like a chest, only to reveal the XPS safely tucked away in padding.

The texture on the back of the screen feels a lot like the aluminium on a Mac, but looks darker and more grey.

The matte plastic Dell uses around the keyboard feels really nice and doesn't show fingerprints, despite my best efforts to leave a few.

I also like the look and feel of the plastic on the bottom, though the vents look like they might cook your legs if you actually use the XPS on your lap.

The XPS badge also looks a little out of place on the bottom. It would have been nice to see the logo on the back of the screen instead.

I really like the power brick Dell included with the XPS 13. It's smaller and nicer to look at than the one that comes with the MacBook, and the cord seems to be less prone to unravelling.

While the XPS 13 has the horsepower and screen of other 13-inch laptops, Dell managed to squeeze it into a smaller machine.

Here's what it looks like next to a comparable MacBook Air.

Dell used a smaller bezel around the edge of the screen to fit it in a smaller frame. While the Dell screen has a higher resolution, the MacBook seems brighter.

The Mini DisplayPort and USB placement let me swap out my MacBook for the XPS in seconds, though unfortunately it lacks an SD card slot for getting photos off of my camera. Since I had my monitor connected, I didn't find myself reaching to use the laptop's touchscreen.

From a solid day of using the XPS 13, the biggest downside is that Dell bundles a bunch of annoying software with the laptop that would occasionally pop up and ask me to sign up or register for one service or another.

Windows 8 tablets keep getting better...

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