The Good Upscale design with leather trim, backlit keyboard, and edge-to-edge screen glass.
The Bad Bulky for a 13-inch laptop; weak battery life.
The Bottom Line Dell's SX13-163B (a retail version of the upscale 13-inch Studio XPS model) offers a solid set of components, but looks and feels clunky compared with other 13-inch laptops.
Editors' note: This review is part of our Retail Roundup: Q1 2009, covering specific configurations of popular laptops that can be found in retail stores.
The 13-inch laptop owes much if its success to Apple's embrace of the form factor for its popular MacBook systems. But besides that, the 13-incher hits the right middle ground; it's the smallest size we'd consider using for everyday work, and at the same time, the biggest size we'd consider carrying around on a regular basis.
Dell recently made waves with its new high-end 13-inch Adamo system, less than an inch thick, but starting at a wallet-crushing $1,999. More reasonable is the $949 Dell SX13-163B, part of the Studio XPS brand. Like the Dell Studio XPS 16 we looked at recently, this model has some features that distinguish it from a run-of-the-mill Inspiron, including a backlit keyboard and a somewhat superfluous leather trim on the back of the lid--but at 5 pounds and 1.4 inches thick, it's bigger and heavier than 13-inch systems such as the Adamo and MacBook.
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