Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 is a laptop.

I have hated on Dell in the past, but to their credit they're probably the only manufacturer to offer a serious laptop for designer/developers.

After some dick rolled over my laptop in his ute, I've been doing some extensive research looking for a replacement. While the Samsung Series 9 has been fun, it's definitely not worth the price for such a terrible screen.

My main issues with laptops these days are:

  1. I require at least 8 GB or RAM.
  2. The screen mustn't be completely appalling (I have revised my expectations down from wanting a "decent" screen, because in the PC world they don't exist).
  3. I would prefer a SSD.
  4. Build quality is somewhat important to me.

Horrifyingly, laptops these days are coming with 2 or 4 gig of RAM soldered straight onto the motherboard so you can't upgrade them after purchase. Furthermore, the industry has standardised on 1366*768 resolution ("high definition") displays, and is only now reluctantly breaking that trend to move toward better resolutions.

Why not another Mac?

On the contrary, the MacBook pro is the pinnacle of computer hardware at the moment. While they too solder RAM direct to the motherboard, the base models come with 8 GB already, with the option to upgrade to 16.

Furthermore, the IPS retina displays are a complete departure from the flickery, low resolution displays you get with your average Windows PC. The colours are bright, but more importantly true; there's no colour shift when you view the screen at different angles. For designers, this is probably the most important thing there is.

I had almost resigned myself to the fact I was going to get a MacBook Pro until I found that the new models have issues running Linux. I'd furthermore almost resigned myself to having to switch to OSX, but (troll alert) the desktop environment is second only to Windows 8 for being an awful, unusable piece of shit.

Linux on the desktop is pretty much over

Ironically despite Microsoft's involvement in the company, Dell actually offer some of the most Linux-friendly laptops around.

With Microsoft's mandatory Windows 8 boot DRM scheme, running Linux has become much more difficult in the past year. Some Samsung laptops are bricking themselves trying to run Linux and it's a mixed bag as to whether any given Lenovo will boot an OS not identifying itself as "Windows".

This machine, on the other hand is the Ubuntu Developer Edition laptop in sheep's clothing. Unfortunately they're not selling the Ubuntu variant in Australia so I'm stuck paying for yet another Windows license I'll never use, but on the plus side there will (hopefully) be fewer issues getting rid of it.

Good luck with your Dell

So I've ordered the late 2012 model Dell XPS 13.

While I was horrified at the quality of the panel in the last Dell I bought (the 15" version of this very same laptop), I've basically given up on my quest for a quality panel. Unless I switch to a Mac, "okay" is going to have to be good enough, and for now any of my work requiring accurate colour reproduction is going to have to be done on an external monitor. (Edit: turns out this display is fantastic. See my XPS 13 review.)

Dell is generally low on my list of preferred companies, but I'm at the end of the road as far as laptops are concerned. I'm sick of the lacklustre, bullshit offerings the PC manufacturers have to offer, and it feels inevitable that anyone who cares even a tiny bit about the quality of their hardware is going to eventually have to make that fruity switch.