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03-15-2015, 08:04 PM   #1
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Should the Dell XPS 13 be my next laptop?

I'm in the market for a new laptop this year. My Lenovo is starting to limp, and it's a shoulder/back-breaking 5 pounds. Weight and size are critical because I do take my laptop and edit when I travel. At home, I'll pair it with a monitor (which I'll also buy at the same time as the laptop). I'm not a fan of Apple, so I'm looking at PCs. I also print photos at home (for school and also I make prints that are donated at a farm sanctuary where I volunteer), so I'm interested in hardware that makes it easier to get a look that is close to what I'm printing. That makes me leary of the glossy screens that are so popular these days.

I have small hands so ultrabooks are no problem for me to work on. And so I'm thinking about the Dell XPS 13, which has a 13" screen packaged in a size that is more commonly associated with an 11" laptop, and it only weighs about 2.6 pounds. If I choose the Dell XPS 13, I definitely will choose some upgrades including:

- faster processor (5th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-5200U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz)
- 8GB Dual Channel DDR3L-RS 1600Mhz (On Board)
- at least 256GB solid state drive (can be upgraded after purchase)

I'm not sure which display to choose. The standard is a 1920x1080 infinity display (non-touch). There is an option to upgrade to a UltraSharp™ QHD+ (3200 x 1800) infinity touch display. I do plan to buy a high resoluton monitor (3840x2160). There is a lack of clarity (pun intended) on whether the less expensive and lower-resolution screen on the laptop is matte as opposed to glossy. Reviewers seem to say it's matte, but when you chat with Dell, they all say all screens are glossy. If I can get a matte screen on the lower-resolution model, I'm tempted to get it (my preference and I save $). But if the screens are the same (except for the touch and resolution factors, then I'd rather splurge on the higher resolution screen). I'm not in love with touch screens but I supposed I've become accustomed to them, so maybe going backward would be hard.

What do others think about the options? Assume price is generally not an issue here - it's more about what's the best option (and best combination) for photo editing, primarily for print but to some extent for screen viewing.

03-15-2015, 08:09 PM   #2
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My take would be, IF you are really interested in a mobile platform WITH a tiny tinge of purpose for color critical work (simple on-the-go editing), aim for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.

ONLY the 3rd version. Why?

Because, Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Display Technology Shoot-Out

The screen beats the crap out of ANY mobile platform i would say.. Something which most photogs that i know of overlook, surprisingly..

"most accurate on-screen colors of any Tablet or Smartphone display that we have ever measured for all standard consumer content (sRGB/Rec.709)"
03-15-2015, 08:19 PM   #3
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I'm debating the same thing. Would be interested to hear comparisons of the Dell XPS vs. Samsung ATIV 9 vs. Lenovo X1 if any photographers use them.

SyncGuy, that's decent info - but I would need a full-blown desktop replacement on the road. More than just "simple on-the-go editing" - and color perfection isn't critical. Could you run Lightroom & Photoshop on the Surface Pro 3?
03-15-2015, 08:25 PM   #4
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I was sort of in the same boat but I've decided to wait until next year's XPS 13 potentially with USB Type-C port. I would go with non-touch version to avoid glare personally. Also, it will perform a little better - those ultrabook CPUs are a bit under powered to power those high res screen in my opinion.

03-15-2015, 08:38 PM   #5
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Review: Surface Pro 3 for digital photography
03-15-2015, 08:46 PM   #6
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Im not a apple fan either, but at that price, the mbp13 with 16gb RAM, is more atracctive for me, the XPS13 was one of the option i look but the lack of more RAM is a dealbreaker to me.
03-15-2015, 08:52 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by carpents Quote
I'm debating the same thing. Would be interested to hear comparisons of the Dell XPS vs. Samsung ATIV 9 vs. Lenovo X1 if any photographers use them.

SyncGuy, that's decent info - but I would need a full-blown desktop replacement on the road. More than just "simple on-the-go editing" - and color perfection isn't critical. Could you run Lightroom & Photoshop on the Surface Pro 3?
I've yet to own one but i definitely am aiming for this one..

Look at the link that's posted by Vanya..

QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
I would imagine the highest tricked out version fits you best; i7 with 256g or 512gb SSD

Last edited by SyncGuy; 03-15-2015 at 08:58 PM.
03-15-2015, 09:08 PM   #8
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Surface Pro 3 is due for price drop or CPU refresh any time now... Keep that in mind if that's the one you decide to go with.

03-15-2015, 09:24 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ruggiex Quote
Surface Pro 3 is due for price drop or CPU refresh any time now... Keep that in mind if that's the one you decide to go with.
Holy cow... Nice to know that.. I've always loved being one step behind in technology (2 steps now since it's moving even faster), so that i don't need to pay the early-adopter "penalty fee".. ;P

Nevertheless, i wonder if we can do a dual display out with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking station used.

Edit: Found my answer, OP check this out..
http://blog.surface.com/2014/07/surface-pro-3-docking-station-next-leap-productivity/
03-15-2015, 09:31 PM   #10
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I started to get interested in the Lenovo X1 until I saw reviews indicating that it doesn't do as well on color gamut as some of the competing ultra books like the XPS 13 (ref: Mobile tech review.com).
03-15-2015, 09:37 PM - 1 Like   #11
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On a 13" screen anything above the 1080p will not make a noticeable effect in your workflow. It will give your a better magnification rate which is usefull but personally I think wide gamut ratings are the most important specs for a photo-editing screen.

I'm a big fan of the XPS line, I used older 15" models (an RGB LED with 95+% adobe coverage), and I'm currently on a Precision 17" M6600 which I use for work. My wife uses a 13" MBPro and although it's it has an Intel i5 processor it's twice as slow as my i7 2760qm (and 16 gb of ram) I've used many laptops in the past, Sony Vaio, Gateway but in my personal experience the Dell (especially the higher models like the XPS and Inspiron/Precision) are quality products. The Retina Display Apple products have very good screens but they're expensive.

Its important to emphasize that the screen is an integral part of your photo-editing laptop. Ideally you want an IPS RGB Led screen but that's an $400-600 option in the built-you-own list.
03-15-2015, 10:30 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stavri Quote
On a 13" screen anything above the 1080p will not make a noticeable effect in your workflow. It will give your a better magnification rate which is usefull but personally I think wide gamut ratings are the most important specs for a photo-editing screen.

I'm a big fan of the XPS line, I used older 15" models (an RGB LED with 95+% adobe coverage), and I'm currently on a Precision 17" M6600 which I use for work. My wife uses a 13" MBPro and although it's it has an Intel i5 processor it's twice as slow as my i7 2760qm (and 16 gb of ram) I've used many laptops in the past, Sony Vaio, Gateway but in my personal experience the Dell (especially the higher models like the XPS and Inspiron/Precision) are quality products. The Retina Display Apple products have very good screens but they're expensive.

Its important to emphasize that the screen is an integral part of your photo-editing laptop. Ideally you want an IPS RGB Led screen but that's an $400-600 option in the built-you-own list.
That's exactly why I'm looking at that Surface pro 3... Sheesh! Wish I could afford one now. LoL!
03-16-2015, 05:06 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Stavri Quote
On a 13" screen anything above the 1080p will not make a noticeable effect in your workflow. It will give your a better magnification rate which is usefull but personally I think wide gamut ratings are the most important specs for a photo-editing screen.

I'm a big fan of the XPS line, I used older 15" models (an RGB LED with 95+% adobe coverage), and I'm currently on a Precision 17" M6600 which I use for work. My wife uses a 13" MBPro and although it's it has an Intel i5 processor it's twice as slow as my i7 2760qm (and 16 gb of ram) I've used many laptops in the past, Sony Vaio, Gateway but in my personal experience the Dell (especially the higher models like the XPS and Inspiron/Precision) are quality products. The Retina Display Apple products have very good screens but they're expensive.

Its important to emphasize that the screen is an integral part of your photo-editing laptop. Ideally you want an IPS RGB Led screen but that's an $400-600 option in the built-you-own list.
That's what I was thinking. I expect my workflow is going to be something like this:

- laptop (sitting on the comfy chair in our den or on-the-go while travelling): identifying selects, adding metadata, a few basic global adjustments in LR; and
- at my desk with a larger display (4K) - finer edits, including local adjustments in PS, and prep to print or upload.

I believe the XPS 13 has a wide gamut (better than the Lenovo X1). I haven't looked at the Surface Pro but I'm not sure a tablet is the right choice for me. I need to look at the video reviews comparing the XPS 13 to its peers before making a decision. And finally get around to getting my student card from Adorama before going ahead with the purchase.

Dell XPS 13 (2015) Review - Laptop Reviews by MobileTechReview
03-16-2015, 05:44 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Janet, I'm on my second ultrabook (each an Asus Zenbook). The first (matte screen, Windows 7) has an i5 processor. The second (glossy touch screen, Windows 8) has an i7 processor. My comments:
- There is a big difference between them in performance for photo editing. The i7 was several hundred dollars more, but well worth it. Get more RAM too.
- The glossy screen on the later model produces much better resolution, but it is hard to read in bright light. It is getting hard to find a matte screen. I rarely use the touch screen function.
- The flaky trackpad is a let-down on the Asus (the older one is worse). Try out the trackpads before buying.
- 13" is a very small workspace for photo editing, especially if your editing program has a busy layout. An external monitor is a good idea when you are using it at home.
- The flip side of the light weight of ultrabooks is that they are vulnerable to damage. My older one broke the charger socket when it slid 18" onto a carpeted floor. My partner's Samsung died when it got literally a few drops of rain on the keyboard.
- Three USB ports if possible.
03-16-2015, 06:59 AM - 1 Like   #15
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I've had a Dell XPS 13 for ~3 years. The screen, CPU, and other specs have changed since my purchase so I can't comment on those. The build quality is very good. My prior laptops were shoddy builds: a Gateway where the charging jack and other ports kept breaking, and a Sony with screen hinge and power problems.

(*) Despite my good experience with Dell, my next "laptop" may be a Surface Pro and docking station. That would be a unified replacement for my laptop, desktop, and tablet. I prefer to build my desktop PCs but keeping 3 devices updated and in sync is tiresome.
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