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Dell’s new XPS 13 moves the webcam back up top, right where it belongs

CES 2019 is officially underway, and Dell has revealed a revamped XPS 13 laptop. The device comes with a fixed webcam in the top bezel, new Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs on the inside, and other subtle improvements that could make it one of the best laptops of the new year.

The biggest of the changes for the 2019 Dell XPS 13 is a switch to Intel Whiskey Lake CPUs — options include the eighth-generation Intel quad-core  i5-8265U or Core i7-8565U processors. Along with an enhanced battery life of up to 21 hours, the new CPUs should provide significant performance and multitasking improvements. For consumers seeking a less-powerful dual-core model, there is also an option for the Intel Core i3-8145U processor.

Key Specs

  • 13.3-inch 4K UHD touchscreen, or 13.3-inch FHD touch-optional screen
  • Core i3-8145U, Core i5-8265U, Core i7- 8565U CPU
  • Intel UHD Graphics
  • Up to 4GB, 16GB LPDDR3 Dual Channel SDRAM
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB SSD
  • 52-watt-hour battery
  • 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports with Display Port, 1 USB Type-C port with power and Display Port, microSD card reader, headset jack
  • Optional Windows Hello fingerprint reader in the power button
  • Killer 1435 802.11ac WiFi+ Bluetooth 4.2

Dell has also moved the webcam from the bottom back up to the top bezel in the display of the XPS 13. Using a 4-element lens and active alignment technology, it is the smallest webcam ever, coming in at 2.25 mm in size. The company worked for two years to bring it to market and managed to shrink the overall size of the webcam housing down from 7 mm in previous generations. Special temporal noise reduction software is also powering the webcam, promising for better video quality in dim lighting conditions.

On the outside of the new XPS 13, there are now options for a new frost exterior and improved arctic white palm rest. The material brings more color choice, and the new arctic white woven glass fiber palm rest appears brighter, whiter, and stronger than ever.

Other changes on the XPS 13 include a suite of next-generation Dell Cinema technologies, including Dolby Vision, which on supported content on Netflix can deliver brighter highlights and blacks that are up to 10 times darker.

Finally, Dell re-engineered the hinge system on the XPS 13. The new model features a “variable torque hinge” that makes opening the device easier. Dell promises that the change in torque is now smooth, so you can open it with just one hand.

The new Dell XPS 13 will be available later in January for prices starting at $900.

Inspiron 13 and 15 7000

In addition to the new XPS 13, Dell has also announced a new set of Inspiron 2-in-1s, the 13 and 15 7000. They don’t look all that different from previous Inspiron devices, but they now sport diamond-cut chamfer edges on the touchpad.

The “Black Edition” of these devices packs a magnetically attachable full-size pen right inside the hinge. Unlike other 2-in-1s that typically come with pen loops, the pen will always be accessible to the user, no matter how the device is configured. Also, compared to its previous two-hinge design, the new hinge looks a lot nicer and has fewer lines interrupting the overall visual flow of the system. It even helps improve airflow, so that consumers will never accidentally touch a hot spot when handling the device.

As for thermals, Dell is using a new Adaptive Thermal Technology, which enables the Inspiron 13 and 15 7000 to adjust performance so they generate less heat when mobile and more when sitting on a desk. The display looks fairly similar to the XPS 13, packing a narrow border bezel for increased screen space and a smaller footprint.

Also new on the 15-inch version is a keyboard design that debuts a new power key and fingerprint reader, freeing up space for a full-sized number pad. Technical specifications and pricing on Dell’s new 13- and 15-inch 7000 2-in-1s were not available, but they’re set to be released in June and July 2019. A separate model will be available in silver without the pen garage.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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