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.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read
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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.

Watch this: New Dell XPS 13 and Inspiron 7000 Black Edition fix problems you didn’t even know you had

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.


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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