Year after year after year, Dell’s XPS 13 has consistently been one of the best laptops around, with fast processors, good battery life, and its pioneered bezel-less design, but there was always one massive, glaring flaw, going back all the way to the original 2015 model: the terrible webcam placement which, due to the tiny bezels, has been forced to be stuck underneath the screen, giving viewers a lovely, nose-hair view of your face during conference calls.
Praises be unto Dell and its R&D team
But that’s all a complaint of the past because for the 2019 model, Dell has heard our cries and moved the webcam back to the top of the display where it belongs. Praises be unto Dell and its R&D team.
The rest of the XPS 13 is almost banal in comparison: new, faster 8th Gen Whiskey Lake processors in i3, i5, and i7 versions (Dell, like everyone else, is stuck waiting for Intel’s next-gen silicon), a new white color option, and support for Dolby Vision. Dell’s also adjusted the hinges to make it easier to open with one hand, which is a similarly subtle but appreciated update.
The real star of the show is clearly the webcam
But the real star of the show is clearly the webcam, and what a webcam it is. Dell says that its teams have been working for over two years to develop the hardware to shrink down the new 2.25mm camera module to fit in the XPS 13’s tiny bezels. That move does come at a cost, though: the XPS 13 doesn’t have Windows Hello support with the webcam anymore, although it does maintain the fast unlocking feature through an optional fingerprint reader.
But that one qualm aside, Dell has fixed what was perhaps the biggest flaw in the computer in one fell swoop. The new XPS 13 will be available January 8th, starting at $899.99.
But the XPS 13 isn’t Dell’s only clever hardware innovation this year. The company also has a new version of its Inspiron 7000 Black Edition 2-in-1 laptop with a clever twist: it hides the included stylus in a dock that’s built into the hinge below the screen, instead of wasting valuable space inside the laptop or not offering a place to stow the pen at all (a surefire recipe for losing it).
Available in both a 13-inch and 15-inch size, Dell says that the Inspiron 7000 Black Edition will offer the latest Intel Whiskey Lake chips, as well as discrete GPU options, with more specific details (including price) to come closer to the May release date.
Lastly, Dell showcased a few new features for its smartphone linking Mobile Connect software. The first is more mundane — there’s now the option to transfer files directly to and from a connected Android phone.
But far more impressive was the VR mirroring demo, which lets notifications and calls from a phone show up overlaid onto your VR experience, allowing you to stay connected with the outside world even while in a virtual one. And even more impressively, Dell showed off a full mirroring option that would let users mirror a virtual version of their phone in real time in VR, which worked just like it would in the real world. I had the chance to try it out, and it was legitimately impressive — there was a bit of lag, as one might expect, but the whole thing was usable, letting me open apps and use the phone just like I would in the real world.
For now, it’s just a demo — Dell is being very clear that it may never show up as a shipped product, but hopefully the company will continue to develop the functionality going forward.
Update January 8th, 1:42pm ET: Clarified that the new webcam placement for the Dell XPS 13 resulted in the removal of Windows Hello IR camera support.