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CES 2019: Dell XPS 13's 2019 model fixes its biggest problem

No more "nostril cam" means that the new version of this 13-inch laptop will be tough to top.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The XPS 13 from Dell has been one of our favorite laptops for a few years. It launched the current war on bezels, shaving down its screen borders before almost everyone else, and that's a look being copied far and wide now.

But, even the most recent generation of the XPS 13 -- which made big strides all its own -- suffered from a near-fatal flaw. Its webcam was positioned below the screen, not above it. That's the opposite of pretty much every other laptop ever, and that's for good reason.

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Blame the super-thin bezel around the screen, which didn't have room for a webcam. The unfortunate compromise was that Skype calls and videos shot from the under-screen webcam all hit that unflattering up-the-nose angle.

This time around, Dell has cracked the code, and is inserting a new, extra small, "micro HD" webcam design right where it belongs -- above the screen. So no more nostril-cam. The new camera is 2.25mm high, so it just fits in that slim 4mm top bezel. It's not a Windows Hello camera, but there's an optional fingerprint reader for biometric logins.

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Now that's a tiny webcam. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Besides that, you can get up a 4K display, surrounded by a slim 4mm bezel, and Dolby Vision support for HDR video. The colors have been tweaked slightly, but it's still a sharp-looking mostly white laptop, with a variant in, you guessed it, rose gold.

Basic specs and configuration options include:

  • CPU: Intel eighth-gen Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7
  • RAM: 4GB to 16GB
  • Display: 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, 1,920 by 1,080-pixel touchscreen or 3,840 by 2,160-pixel touchscreen
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620
  • Storage: 128GB to 2TB

The XPS 13 remains a standard bearer for slim mainstream laptops, and I suspect it will remain one of my go-to recommendations. It'll start at $899 (about £700 or AU$1,260) and go on sale Jan. 8.

This story originally posted at 10 a.m. PT.


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