DELL XPS14Z-laptop fun

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By Ian Morris

DELL, WITH its new XPS range, and specifically, the 14z, come up with enough of a temptation to lure customers from all those super-sleek computers that are making laptops fun, in the face of stiff tablet competition?
Out of the box, there’s a lot to like here. Dell has also made extensive use of aluminum which adds to the weight, but gives it a sturdy, trendy feel. There’s no untoward bending or bowing when you press the case. This is a solid, well-built laptop and no mistake.
Weight-wise, it’s a little on the chunky side. The official weight is 1.98kg, which sounds like a lot, but we’ve carried it around a lot, and in practice it’s perfectly manageable. Of course, with all these things, it could always be lighter, but there are other things to consider too. For example, this laptop has a DVD drive, which is likely to appeal to some.
One of the nicest features has to be the island-style keyboard, with backlighting, which in a dark room is quite helpful. The trackpad too, works as it should. This is a standard pointing device with distinct and easily press-able buttons beneath that act as you would hope and expect.
Dell includes its “Stage” application, which provides a graphical interface that allows you access to photos, music, video, games and magazines. It’s kind of pointless, but also stays out of your way unless you seek it out. It’s largely pointless though, and acts mostly as a way to launch other applications on the machine.
Audio quality is reasonable. We did a lot of Skype calling with the 14z, and it did a good job with that, and with other media we played via its speakers. As always, your world isn’t going to be rocked by the audio, but it’s fine for most things.
In some ways, it’s a little hard to tell what market this laptop is aimed at. It’s a powerful enough machine for home use. If you think it more as a day-to-day machine, for users with more modest requirements, the price is perhaps a little high. But there is plenty to like about this laptop. It’s powerful enough for most things, and despite being a little weighty, it’s still perfectly portable and a nice machine.


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