Review: Dell's XPS 13 Kaby Lake Is One Of The Year's Best Laptops

We tried out the newest edition of Dell's popular XPS 13 laptop this weekend, in the environment in which its merits can be best appreciated — on a cramped flight across the country.

The new version, like the previous one, impresses with its 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display that has practically no bezel on the top and sides—making it a laptop that feels small and highly portable overall yet still has plenty of screen space to work on. Among 13-inch laptops, the XPS 13 has the smallest total surface area, according to a recent comparison, and its small footprint showed while we used it easily during our Boston-to-Phoenix flight.

[Related: Review: Dell Takes On 2-In-1 Market With Latitude 3379 Laptop]

Then there's the upgrades that Dell has made with new XPS 13. The battery is 7 percent larger than on the previous version, and we found the battery life to be terrific, getting between nine and 10 hours on a charge in our tests.

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The version we tested is the non-touch screen edition, which is easier on the battery drain.

Dell also made two big upgrades around speed. One is the inclusion of Intel's seventh-generation Core i5 or i7 processors, known as Kaby Lake. Combined with the second addition — Killer 1535 Wireless-AC for a faster, smoother Wi-Fi connection — the new XPS 13 loaded web pages for us at blazing speeds, even on airline Wi-Fi.

Portabilitywise, the new XPS 13 maintains the same thin-and-light profile of the previous version with a thickness of 0.6 of an inch and a weight of 2.7 pounds (or 2.9 pounds for the touch-screen edition).

For us what solidifies the new XPS 13 as a candidate for 2016's best laptop is the starting price of $1,099, which seems like a good deal for all of the speed, portability and battery life you're getting.

We didn't try out the touch-screen edition, but along with touch capabilities it adds a much higher-resolution display — 3,200 x 1,800 versus 1,920 x 1,080 on the non-touch version. It also adds $500 to the price.

The only real nitpick with the laptop we tried is around the trackpad, which is not quite up to our expectations since it sometimes shows a little bit of latency — a common problem with Dell laptops, in our experience. The issue is mostly noticeable when trying to quickly scroll web pages, as opposed to just using the cursor for navigation.

One final point is that the new XPS 13 adds a Rose Gold color option, for another $50. Our test model came with the color — definitely pretty, and if it was us buying the laptop we probably would actually spring for the Rose Gold.