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Dell XPS 14z review: Dell XPS 14z

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MSRP: $1,299.00
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The Good Compact design; Sturdy aluminium shell; Powerful processor.

The Bad Too few USB ports; Ports placed awkwardly at the back; Underwhelming gaming performance.

The Bottom Line The Dell XPS 14z offers decent performance for general computing tasks with a bag-friendly design and sturdy construction. If you're a gaming fan, or need a lot of ports, it won't appeal as much.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

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If the name didn't give you a clue, the Dell XPS 14z laptop is the little brother of the XPS 15z. It knocks an inch off the screen size but still offers decent performance with a sturdy metal case.

Our model came loaded with an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. It's available from 15 November for £849 from Dell's online store.

Design and build quality

If you're particularly style-conscious and don't want to carry round some ugly lump of black plastic, the XPS 14z is worthy of your consideration. It's wrapped in a silver metal shell that's certainly more attractive than many laptops on the market and will look good sat on your desk or on your knee in some posh coffee bar.

It's not got the flouncy looks of some Dell machines though, so you could happily slide it out of a bag in a meeting room without running the risk of being passed over for promotion. Again. There's not a whole lot going on on the lid -- just the Dell logo emblazoned on top. It's a rather minimal look that smacks somewhat of the MacBook Pro.

XPS 14Z main
That clean, aluminium design is somewhat reminiscent of the MacBook Pro, don't you think?

The metal shell means it feels very sturdy. We did find a bit of flex when we pushed down on the closed lid, but the underside of the machine -- and around the keyboard on the inside -- feels strong and would certainly put up with a few knocks on the go.

It's a good job -- as a 14-inch machine, this thing is definitely designed for a life on the move. With a width of 335mm and a length of 234mm, it will easily slide into a case for you to carry it across town. It's 23mm thick which isn't as slim as ultrabooks such as the stunning Asus Zenbook UX21, but it's hardly what you'd call fat -- we were able to easily slide it into a normal backpack and head out to the pub all our fancy events without any troubles.

Keyboard, trackpad and ports

Under the lid you'll find the same keyboard as on the XPS 15z. It uses rounded, isolated keys that are perfectly comfortable to type on for long periods of time. We're not keen on the font Dell has opted for on them, though -- it looks like the sort of font that would be considered 'futuristic' in the early 80s. It will undoubtedly appeal to some people, but we'd much prefer something more classic.

xps 14z keyboard
The font may be a bit odd, but at least the keyboard is backlit.

It may have a daft font, but it is at least backlit, which will allow you to happily type away to all your friends on Facebook at night without ever having to get up off your chair to turn on a light.

The trackpad is large and is very easy to scroll around on. It has a slightly rough texture that allows your finger to slide round it without any trouble. The trackpad buttons are large and have a pleasing click to them, which all in all makes quick operation a hassle-free experience.

At the sides of the keyboard are two grilles that house the speakers. They put out a decent enough sound for a laptop which will do fine if you want to catch up on a bit of TV using BBC iPlayer, but if you want to listen to some music or enjoy an epic film soundtrack, you'll definitely want to hook up a proper set of speakers or plug in some good headphones.

Around the edges you'll find a slot-loading DVD drive, a mini display port, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port and headphone and microphone jacks.

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