Dell’s Upcoming XPS 13 Plus

Monica Chin, writing for The Verge:

First, Dell got rid of the function row. It’s been replaced with what the company is calling a “capacitive touch function row,” which refers to little LED buttons on a flat bar that you can tap to fiddle with things like brightness and volume. Dell insists that this is not a touch bar (but it is, I mean, a bar that you touch to toggle things, so anyone else whose brain immediately jumped to that comparison, you are valid, and I see you), and to that point, they have a fixed set of functions like real function keys. The touch keys were responsive in my brief testing time, and I was never worried about accidentally bumping them like I always am with the Touch Bar on older MacBook Pros.

They’re capacitive, like the Touch Bar, but the buttons are set in hardware.

Another thing you’ll probably notice: there’s no delineated trackpad beneath the keyboard. Dell has outfitted the XPS 13 with what it calls a “haptic ForcePad.” As is the case with MacBook touchpads, this one doesn’t physically depress when you click; it just reproduces the sensation of depressing. I imagine there might be some learning curve to figuring out where you can and can’t click, though Dell thinks muscle memory will make that a non-issue.

This non-delineated trackpad makes for a very clean look, but I feel like I want to know where the edges of the trackpad are. The edge-to-edge keyboard looks cool, too, and brings to (my) mind the 12-inch PowerBook G4 from 2004 — one of the best-looking laptops ever. (The speakers on the Dell XPS 13 Plus are under the keyboard.)

Notably missing? A headphone jack.

Thursday, 6 January 2022