Dell’s new XPS ‘z’ series brings the mighty performance of the traditional XPS legacy, but does it with flair. This is for those who’ve eyed the new XPS series, but wanted something sleeker and portable without compromising on the build quality and aesthetics. We already saw the XPS 15z in action, last year and now it’s time to take a look at their newest offering, the XPS 14z.
Design and Build
The XPS 14z is a spitting image of its elder brother and other than some re-arranged ports, it borrows the same DNA; only this time, it looks more striking. The notebook is quite slim and compact for a 14-incher. Dell has fitted the XPS 14z with an edge-to-edge display, which means there’s barely any bezel. They’ve managed to fit all the components in roughly the same form factor as a 13-inch notebook. Made from anodised aluminium, the notebook is full of sweeping curves and chrome accents that give it a stunning look, no matter from which angle you look at it.
Brilliant compact design
The left side houses the microphone and headphone jacks and memory card reader, while on the right we have the slot-loading DVD drive and battery charge indicator. This is quite a handy feature, since the battery in not removable. The rest of the ports are placed at the back, which include the power port, DisplayPort, HDMI, two USB ports and a LAN jack. Sadly, there’s no USB 3.0, which is a downer. The bottom portion is not easily removable by the user, while he tries to swap out the RAM and hard drive.
The power light blends into one of the ribs on the ribbed hinge, same as the XPS 15z. The backlit chiclet keyboard is comfortable to use, but we wished Dell would have thrown in an ambient light sensor to automatically activate the backlight, instead of you having to do it manually. The trackpad for a change works well and we didn't face any issues, whatsoever. Dell has once again succeeded with a solid design, good compact form factor and excellent build quality.
The XPS 14z lives up to its heritage with powerful components that makes for a very productive notebook. Powering it is an Intel Core i7-2640M, a dual-core multi-threaded CPU running at 2.8GHZ and with Turbo up to 3.5GHz. Other components include 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 750GB hard drive and an Nvidia GT 520M with 1GB dedicated graphics. The 14-inch screen has a semi-gloss finish with a resolution of 1366 x 768, which is good enough for a 14-inch screen. The LED backlight ensures even lighting and the panel produces accurate colours with a decent viewing angle. Also, at 2kg, it’s not too heavy, so you can easily carry it around.
My main gripe here is that Dell doesn’t give you the liberty to customize the notebook. You have just two pre-set configurations and at the most, you can customize the software package and accessories, but not the core components. You’ll notice you get lot more freedom with the regular XPS line-up and it’s a damned cheaper as well, so in essence, Dell is charging you a premium for the design.