Thursday, February 11, 2016

Learning to love in a dual-platform relationship (Part 1)

When a representative from Dell approached me and asked if I would like to receive the Dell XPS 15 Touch laptop and review it, I was excited! Being a Mac user, I was anxious to both work with this powerhouse of a laptop as well as see how Windows has progressed with Windows 10. Could I learn to love working in a dual-platform relationship?

Dell XPS 15 Touch laptop, power adapter, and Dell HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB adapter

I started off by learning all I could about this great laptop! A complete overview of the specifications follows with the options I received highlighted, but here are the things that impressed me the most.

The 15" screen literally has no bezel! It stretches from side to side with a frame that is only 5.7mm wide!

The screen of the Dell XPS 15 Touch is a 15.6" UltraSharp 4K touch display with a resolution of 3840x2160. It is very bright, crisp, and I can easily open multiple documents side by side when I am working. And the screen is made from Gorilla Glass, which means it is well-protected from scratches.

I love having a touchscreen laptop! I have only used one once before, but after spending a lot of time with this Dell XPS 15 Touch, I realize what a time-saver it is! The hinge on the Dell XPS 15 Touch does not allow any wobble in the screen when I use it by touching what I need. I found myself using touch more and more as I spent time with the the laptop!

This Dell XPS 15 Touch came with a 500GB SSD storage drive. It is extremely fast to open programs, start up, and shut down! In addition, the 16GB of RAM allow me to quickly render videos and speed up other RAM-intensive applications. 

The battery life of this model, with the 4K screen and the 84Whr battery, is estimated to be 11-12 hours! I have not put that to the test yet, but that would last me an entire airplane travel day in coach, where I don't often have a plug. This model of the Dell XPS 15 Touch, with the 84Whr battery, is ½ pound heavier than the version with the 56Whr battery, but the longer battery life is certainly worth the little extra weight!

The keyboard is backlit, which is something that I have become quite accustomed to. The ports on the laptop include the standard HDMI, two USB 3.2 ports, and an SD card reader. However, the Dell XPS 15 Touch also includes the new powerful Thunderbolt 3 port (USB Type-C)  which would allow me to hook up two additional 4K monitors to the laptop if I wanted to!

There is a headset jack (which does both audio in and out) and a built-in 720p Webcam. Because of the thin bezel surrounding the screen, the Webcam is below the screen, near the hinge. Having the Webcam in this location will take some getting used to, since I usually am looking at the top of the screen when presenting a webinar or Skyping with colleagues.

Specifications for the Dell XPS 15 Touch

My Dell XPS 15 Touch came with a great accessory-- the Dell Adapter USB 3.0 to HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/USB 2.0 (DA200). This one little accessory replaces a multitude of dongles! It plugs into a USB port and contains an HDMI connection, a VGA connection, an Ethernet port, and another USB port. Having all of the connections I would need to present with included on this one little adapter is wonderful!

My current Apple 15" laptop is a 2014 MacBook Pro Retina, with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD drive. The specs and weight of the Mac are similar to the Dell XPS 15 Touch. But the Macbook Pro does not have the long battery life, the beautiful 4K touchscreen, and is a bit wider and thicker than the Dell XPS 15 Touch.

I took some comparison shots after unboxing the Dell. Here you can see the Dell and Mac laptops open, closed, and on their sides.

Dell XPS 15 Touch on the left / Macbook Pro Retina on the right

Dell XPS 15 Touch on top / Macbook Pro Retina on bottom

My first impression of the Dell XPS 15 Touch is that it is a powerful, fast, solidly-made laptop, with a killer battery life, the best screen I have ever seen, and, with the availability of the touchscreen, it is sure to speed up my workflow!

With all else being pretty equal, could I learn to become comfortable using either platform to get my work done?

Part two of this series will talk about learning to love both platforms!