The Dell XPS 13 Plus adds capacitive Touch Bar-style keys and a tactile trackpad, and no headphone jack.

Why is it important: The Dell XPS 13 has long been regarded as the best ultraportable Windows device for its combination of design, battery, power and display. The company unveiled its latest version of the laptop at CES, and it saw an unexpected change: the function row of keys has been replaced with small LED buttons on the flat panel, as opposed to the touchpad, which Apple recently removed from its MacBook Pros. …

The Dell XPS 13 has long won the Best Ultraportable award alongside the 13-inch MacBook Pro in our guide to the best laptops. It is often praised for a design that one might imagine couldn’t be smoother, but the Dell XPS 13 Plus shows it can be done, but isn’t it too sleek?

The first thing you’ll notice about the new model is that Dell has removed all the space between the keys on the keyboard. It might not sound appealing, but it makes each key a little larger (the keyboard reaches the edges of the chassis) and the company says it still has the same 1mm travel as last year’s model.

But the most obvious difference is that Dell has replaced the laptop’s function line with a “capacitive touch function line.” Despite the obvious comparison, Dell insists that this is not its version of Apple’s Touch Bar, as each has a fixed function such as brightness and volume, although users can switch between function and multimedia keys. Dell also claims that removing the function keys can improve thermal performance.

The trackpad is different too. Now bezel-less and invisible under the glass panel at the bottom of the keyboard, Dell calls this a “tactile ForcePad” that doesn’t compress when pressed, but reproduces a tactile feel just like MacBook touchpads.

The last major design change is the headphone jack has been removed. Dell believes this gives the XPS 13 Plus an even more minimalist design, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would be happy with such a solution.

In terms of hardware, the Dell XPS 13 Plus offers a choice of OLED and LCD screens, 12th Gen Core i5 or i7 processors, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 2TB of storage, four speakers, a 4K touchscreen and, as in the previous models, the number of ports is limited to two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C inputs.

While these are just the first impressions of short practice tests, opinions have ranged from very Okay To in different someone who called it “fashion mess… “We’ll find out for ourselves when it arrives in the spring with an expected starting price of $ 1,199.

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