Gears & Gadgets

Dell finally nixes the up-nose webcam in the new Dell XPS 13

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Dell unveiled the newest version of its XPS 13 laptop at CES today, and it fixes arguably the most frustrating problem with the Ultrabook: that pesky up-nose webcam. Dell removed it and instead put its smallest camera yet on top of the device’s display, in addition to other new improvements that update the laptop for 2019.

The new webcam measures just 2.25mm, allowing Dell to embed it in the Infinity Edge bezel on top of the touchscreen. For years, the lower-bezel placement of the webcam marred the XPS 13. While some may not use the webcam on their laptop often, others need it for conferencing and video chats. The old webcam placement made doing those things difficult, as users were always shown at an unflattering angle.

Those days are gone, so the XPS 13 becomes yet another Ultrabook choice for those who require a webcam. However, with such little space to work with above the display, the new XPS 13 won’t have an IR camera for Windows Hello. But Dell does offer an optional fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button for those who want a biometric login option.

The 13.3-inch touchscreen remains unchanged from last year’s model and comes in either FHD or 4K configurations. But it does now support Dolby Vision and HDR content using Windows HD Color, making it better for users who prefer those features to enhance their entertainment experiences.

The dimensions of the new XPS 13 also remain the same as those of the previous model, but Dell updated the internal thermal management system. That means the XPS 13 now pushes heat out of the system more quickly. That should better support the 8th-gen, quad-core Intel processors available for the device, from Core i3 to Core i7. The XPS 13 will also support up to 16GB of RAM and multiple combinations of PCIe storage.

The new XPS 13 should be easier to open and close thanks to a new variable torque hinge and magnets placed on the edge of its lid and chassis. It’ll also last even longer on a single charge: Dell estimates 21 hours of battery life, but we’ll have to put the notebook through our tests to see if the improvements are truly that great. Last year’s XPS 13 lasted about 11.5 hours on our Wi-Fi test.

Inspiring the Inspiron

While the XPS family sits atop all other Dell notebooks as the most premium, the company brought some of that high-end nature into its Inspiron 7000 series. The redesigned 13- and 15-inch Inspiron Black Edition convertibles now have an all-aluminum design, diamond-cut chamfer edges, and an adaptive thermal solution inside.

The latter can tell what position the device is in—laptop, tent, show, or another—and automatically adjust the heat-to-power ratio. The XPS will produce less heat in a mobile position, like when it’s in tablet mode, but it will automatically ramp up again when it detects it’s sitting on a desk in laptop mode.

The Black Editions also have a peculiar but efficient placement for the included active pen. A tubular housing sits at the hinge that connects the lid with the chassis, allowing the active pen to magnetically attach. Regardless of mode, the pen is always accessible—and it’s a full-sized active pen, which will prove to be convenient and comfortable for avid pen users.

Typically, two-in-ones come with shrunken versions of active pens, because the smaller size lets manufacturers more easily build a housing into the notebook chassis. In the short time I had with the Black Edition Inspirons, it seems Dell came up with a fairly secure solution that doesn’t sacrifice the pen’s size for portability.

The 13- and 15-inch Inspiron Black Edition convertibles will be available starting in June/July 2019. The new Dell XPS 13 starts at $ 899 and will be available this month: the black and rose-gold models with 4K displays are available today, while all other models will be available by late January.

Listing image by Valentina Palladino

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Tech – Ars Technica