* Prices may differ from that shown
I seem to go through laptops like pairs of socks and yet again last month it was time to buy another. Once again I decided to purchase one from the USA while on a work trip last month as even with the TAX coming into the UK the laptop would cost less than purchasing it from the rip-off UK! After scouring through the different options in the Microsoft shop in a Shopping Mall I decided to buy the Dell XPS 14Z as it was the nicest looking and the best performing out of all that were on display plus I had $100 extra discount and a free carry bag, bargain! I was tempted to get an Apple MacBook but I thought I'd give Microsoft a chance as Apple seems to be taking over the world slowly but surely. I ended up paying $727 for this which I thought was very fair.
*** Opening the box ***
The box was beautiful and looked just like that of a MacBook, it was only when I opened the Dell that I realized the laptop itself looks very much like a MacBook. My father has one and side by side you can definitely see similarities although dare I say that I think the Dell is better being about the same thickness, feels just as sturdy but being much lighter than the MacBook so it's great for travelling. Obviously you cannot compare the two as they use different operating systems but the overall design is very similar.
Inside the box was;
*The laptop (Beautiful)
And the usual papers etc.
All was perfectly wrapped and there was no way it could have been damaged in the amount of padding that surrounded it.
Setting the laptop up was a breeze with Windows 7 being the operating system. Just switch it on and a few simple questions later your new laptop is ready to use. I instantly noticed how fast the laptop was to start up, under 25 seconds when the laptop was ready to use and connected to the internet via Wi-Fi.
My first impressions were very good; the keyboard is nicely spaced with quality keys that are actually set into the laptop unlike the normal cheap feeling laptop keys, once again very similar to the MacBook. The backlit keyboard was also something that instantly impressed me, I've never had a lit up keyboard before and I was already enjoying it after only 5 minutes of use. Being able to type easily in the dark is fantastic!
At the rear of the laptop are the usual ports for connectivity. There are 2 x USB ports, a HDMI port, charging port and an Ethernet cable adaptor for fixed internet modems. There is one other but unfortunately I'm unsure what it is for sorry. At the side of the laptop is the disc drive, this is not like the normal cheap pull out trays as with all of my other laptops. This has the fancy 'Push a CD in' type of CD drive that you see in car CD players and they are ejected by pressing a button next to it. On the other side are the normal audio jack connections for speakers, headphones and microphones. All ports are flush fitting and they look very well designed and they have an air of quality about them.
** Specifications **
Now I do not understand most of this stuff but I will try my best, I know the laptop was a very good spec for the price and the store assistant did try their best to explain to me.
*500GB Hard drive
*Intel CORE i5 Processor - Graphics 3200.
And it is running Windows 7 Home premium with Microsoft Signature.
In all honesty I went for this laptop for the looks and luckily it turned out to be a good performer.
The battery I was told can last up to 8 hours in perfect conditions but I find with general internet browsing and general use I get about 5 hours which is very reasonable for a laptop. I do reckon if I had everything on minimum and just used a word processor of some kind that I could manage to get it to 8 hours but in everyday life you should expect about 5 happy hours. The battery in this laptop is inside which is neat, all other laptops that I have owned have had an external battery that stick out of the back, this can be annoying but I suppose it would be handy for swapping battery packs. To swap this Dell's battery would be a large job as there are quite a few screws that have to be removed but with such a long battery life I doubt I ever will open it until the day the battery can hold no more.
I've noticed that the laptop runs everything very quickly and it certainly is powerful, I play quite a few games that take a rather powerful computer to run, this plays them all perfectly. Flight simulator is one of my favorites and I'm now able to play this with all the settings on the highest, it was worth buying just for this reason! This internet browsing is also extremely quick and even using the same internet connection it is much faster than all of the other computers in the house.
Now I might be slightly crazy saying this but every laptop that I have owned in the past has always gotten rather warm in use, with some getting to some extreme temperatures. I have noticed with this laptop that it does not get hot or even warm at all in use. It stays very cool and I often use it on soft surfaces such as beds and chairs, I also hardly ever hear the fan inside which tells me that it is generally a cool runner.
*** Features ***
The laptop has two speaks either side of the keyboard; they work very well and give a surround sound effect which is nice when watching movies on the go. The quality is excellent and they do not give the usual 'tinny' sound that you can get with laptops, the audio quality is perfectly adequate and I like it very much. The volume is easily adjusted by using the shortcuts on the keyboard and there are many different sound options available through the menu's to make it sound like you in a theatre etc.
The touch pad is very similar to many other laptops with a very smooth surface that is easy to click and move your finger across. There are the usual two buttons at the bottom - left and right click. If you are on a large website such as reading a review you can simply scroll down by swiping your finger on the right side of the touch pad which is very handy indeed. Nothing fancy but it's the little things like this that improve our laptop experiences.
The screen size is 14" and the display is an LCD which gives a fabulous picture quality, my only gripe with this is the screen is a gloss finish and it can be hard to see it in sunlight. This is the case with most laptops but it does improve the picture when inside the house and it makes pictures look stunning. The screen brightness is easily adjusted by using a shortcut on the keyboard and the lower you have it the longer the battery lasts, the higher the screen the more battery it uses etc. The screen is also a true 14" and fills most of the upper half of the laptop; there is hardly any surround around the screen which definitely improves the looks of the laptop.
There is a built in webcam at the top of the screen that is built flush into the screen itself, this is a fantastic quality webcam and with the built in microphone makes video calling and internet conversations very much easier. You can use this to take pictures of yourself if you feel the need or create funny scenes using some of Windows 7 features.
There are many software features on the laptop too, Dell have lots of nifty buttons to help make your laptop experience even better such as an economy mode to save battery, battery status to tell you the condition and life of your battery and bits like that. All of the features on the keyboard shortcut strip are very handy such as Wi-Fi on and off, speaker volume, fast forward etc. They are all at your fingertips and the strip saves messing around with menus. The computer also came with a full Microsoft office software disc that the shop assistant gave me for only $30 with discount and that's very handy for reviewing.
The hinge is very nicely designed compared to some brands. I had a nasty accident with my last netbook when closing it fast; usually where the screen attaches to the laptop bottom there is a gap to allow the battery to fit. This gap can be dangerous as I found out once when I had my fingers through the gap and closed my Acer Netbook.... Ouch! This should never happen now that I have the Dell and I think it's safe to say that my fingers are now attached forever more.
*** Windows 7 ***
This laptop seems to work very well with Windows 7 and I have no complaints at all. The menus are very easy to use and you have all of the software that you could possibly dream of. You can split the screen in two and use two programs at the same time such as reading a website and playing Games at the same time. It has all of the anti-virus software you could want built in and the updates are always quick and easy to do, I've had no nasty surprises using this yet and so far it has impressed me very much.
Pictures and videos can be uploaded to Facebook or YouTube with ease straight from the picture folder in your documents, this makes my life so much easier as I'm slightly addicted to Facebook, and at least I admit it! I have used both the Facebook and YouTube sharing and I can confirm that it works perfectly.
*** Overall opinion ***
I like this laptop very much and I do not regret buying it one bit, it does everything I need it to and it could do more. It's a stunning looking machine that compares to the build quality of a MacBook and it looks very similar. I think this one will last me a very long time and it always surprises me with what it can do and even now it's full of software and files that I need for daily life, it has not slowed down one bit. I love everything about it and I think I made the right choice.
Would I recommend this to a best friend? I most certainly would!
Thank you for reading