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HP Folio 13 vs. Dell XPS 13: Ultrabook laptop Prizefight

In this Prizefight, we pit two of the best 13-inch ultrabook laptops against each other.

Now playing: Watch this: Dell XPS 13 vs. HP Folio 13

Ultrabooks are a hot topic right now, but with so many superslim 13-inch laptops available, how do you choose the best one? It's especially hard in the new pseudo-category, as most of the ultrabooks we've seen are very similar, both in design and specs. For this eagerly awaited Prizefight, we pitted two of our favorite ultrabooks against each other: the HP Folio 13 and the Dell XPS 13.

The Dell has a very MacBook-Air-like design, whereas the HP is a bit more businesslike, but has fantastic battery life. Below, you'll see our laptop experts, me along with Julie Rivera and Brian Tong, rate both systems across several key categories, and at the end, we'll tally up the score and declare a winner.

Round 1: Design

Dell XPS 13

Dan: The Dell is so MacBook-Air-like, it hurts. But, if you're going to steal, steal from the best. 4/5 
Julie: Although I'm not a personal fan of the tapered look, the edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass, comfortable keyboard, and sturdy feel shine in comparison. 4/5 
Brian: It's a nice design that's a pure knockoff. It looks good, but not as good as the original. 4/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: Businesslike, but thin. Still, not nearly as eye-catching. 3/5
Julie: Basic no-nonsense design, nice keyboard, but slightly heavier than the Dell. 3/5
Brian: A classic design that isn't a conversation starter, but isn't a distraction, either. I prefer its keyboard over the Dell's. 3/5


The HP Folio 13


Round 2: Features

Dell XPS 13

Dan: Lacking both HDMI (it has DisplayPort instead) and an SD card reader, the XPS 13 falls short on features. 2/5
Julie: Besides lacking HDMI and an SD card slot, there's no Ethernet port on this more expensive 13-incher. 2/5
Brian: There's not even a SD card slot...real skimpy here. Backlit keyboards for both. 2/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: The Folio 13 covers the basics, but don't look for anything extra. Both of these at least have backlit keyboards. 3/5
Julie: Has all of the above; an all-around intro for the average consumer looking for just enough productivity. 3/5
Brian: Built-in Ethernet and HDMI-out, two USB, and an SD card slot. It has what I expect in an ultrabook. 4/5

Round 3: Performance

Dell XPS 13

Dan: Identical, middle-of-the-pack performance from both, and more than enough for everyday use. 4/5
Julie: Sporting identical specs, neither has the edge over the other; both exchanged leads on every benchmark. 4/5
Brian: Benchmark tests are nearly identical. 4/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: You'll very rarely feel like you're using a low-voltage processor on either of these. 4/5
Julie: Performance suffices for ordinary everyday tasks on both systems. 4/5
Brian: The same specs yield pretty much the same results. 4/5


The Dell XPS 13


Round 4: Battery life

Dell XPS 13

Dan: Good, but not extraordinary, battery life. 3/5
Julie: On par with the first round of ultrabooks; not that impressive. 3/5
Brian: A solid 5 hours; that's standard for most ultrabooks. 3/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: The longest-lasting ultrabook battery to date, running about an hour longer than the Dell, but still behind the 13-inch MacBook Air. 4/5
Julie: Closest to the MacBook Air, hitting the 6-hour mark; pretty impressive overall. 4/5
Brian: It's an impressive 6 hours, behind only the MacBook Air. 4/5

Round 5: Value

Dell XPS 13

Dan: Decent bang for your buck, but not ahead of the crowd. 3/5
Julie: Cheaper than the MacBook Air, but not as packed as the HP. 3/5
Brian: You're still getting good value, just not great value. 3/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: At $100 less than the Dell, for essentially the same specs, this is a clear value winner. 5/5
Julie: Same specs, more ports: Ethernet, SD Card slot, and HDMI. At $899, the HP is the better value. 5/5
Brian: Just $899 for the performance and features in the HP may be the best value for an ultrabook of this caliber. 5/5

This was a tight contest between two very similar laptops. But the differences were clear enough that our category scores were nearly unanimous among the three judges -- a very rare occurrence. The final tally was as follows (calculated as an overall average of the average score of each individual round):

Total points:

Dell XPS 13:

HP Folio 13: 3.9

Winner: HP Folio 13