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

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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.

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.

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