Dell XPS 13 Review from WSJ, Isn’t

Updated on 23 February 2012 by

The Wall Street Journal have had some time with what appears to be the retail version of the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. While it’s nice to get some feedback on the product, we don’t suggest you use this ‘review’ as part of your buying research because it’s pathetic.

Dell XPS 13

The reviewer, highlights good build quality and a smaller footprint than the MacBook Air. There’s a “good, backlit keyboard” and he gives a tip that Dell will increase the resolution of the XPS 13 later in the year. That’s at least an indication that Dell are working on an Ivy Bridge version of the XPS 13.

The rest of the article is pretty much trash.

On battery life and performance the article doesn’t exactly give any solid information.

The computer easily handled other programs I installed, including the Google Chrome browser, and Apple’s iTunes.

Thanks for that WSJ!

On battery life the WSJ suggests sub-par battery life but has used a test with no baseline. Turning the brightness up to full (the article mentions a ‘bright screen’ but this isn’t taken into consideration) and turning off battery saving features (and freeing up the crapware that was mentioned in the article) with Wi-Fi on, on a fresh device (think Windows Updates) is a less than poor test. Ignore the “deal-breaker” battery life claims for the time being.

And that’s about it for information. The rest of the article waffles on about the XPS 13 not being a ‘bargain’ , suggesting the Core i5 model is also ‘speedy’ and a complaint that “the top row of function keys that is commonly used to adjust things like brightness and volume also requires you to hold down a special key to get to these controls.” Really a major issue to mention?

Any chance of giving us the screen resolution? Does it have Bluetooth? A Webcam? Did you test Intel Smart Connect or Wireless Display? They didn’t even mention the Gorilla Glass screen (although conveniently tagged it for Google.) Come on WSJ, this isn’t good enough.

There’s a lot more to learn about the Dell XPS 13 before buying. Hopefully we’ll get some more detailed information soon.


[Yes, we realise we’ve just given search engine weight to this WSJ article but we feel it’s important to call out those that offer ‘reviews’ for their target audience without thinking about detail that might be needed by hundreds of thousands of people as they find the article on the top of Google search for ‘XPS 13 Review.’  We’ve titled and tagged this article in the hope that it helps highlight the poor quality and encourage anyone that has the privilege of an early review sample to respect the privilege accordingly.]

[Update: Yes. The article isn’t headed ‘review’  but the title of the web page is “Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review” , appears in the WSJ category ‘review’ and the word ‘review’ appears 38 times in the source HTML – a clear indication of where WSJ want this article to go in Google search.]

50 Comments For This Post

  1. Aigak says:

    If you need a good review of XPS13, here it is:

  2. Chippy says:

    Much better. i’ve added it to our XPS 13 information page.

  3. Aigak says:

    Yeah, it is much better indeed. I see there is no info about Vaio brand in the table. Perhaps, it is worth to recollect all the stuff posted across the recent CES and add something: the machine will be unveiled in late March, curretnly it is nicknamed as Vaio VPC-T1 (with some indirect connotations relating the legendary vaio VGN-TT and TZ series – hope you remember them). It has 13.3″ display – what is interesting is that it is 1600*900 matrix – much the same as on current VPC-SA VAIO machines (at this moment it is unfortunately not clear whether it is semi-matte or glare one). The rest details about IO ports are on pictures in the net. But perhaps you saw these prototypes…

  4. Michael says:

    Chippy, its totally not on and umprofessional to critisize another journalist’s work. I have lost confidence in you bro. As a journalist, if you want, you can contructively comment on it but to call another person’s work trash etc, its totally wrong.

  5. Loren says:

    That is utterly absurd. One of the primary functions of journalism is to be skeptical and critical of misrepresented or poorly presented data. And in point of fact, there is no well-defined line between “constructively comment” and “criticize” [in fact, the phrase is “constructive criticism”, for the record]. This article highlights many specific deficiencies of the article, which can be held up as the paramount of journalistic laziness. If Chippy were merely insulting without substance, that would be another issue. But that isn’t the case here.

  6. James says:


    Being skeptical and critical only applies to actual misrepresented or poorly presented data but not to faulting a different writing style and forgetting the difference in target audience.

    An analogy would be like faulting a children’s book for not telling all the cold hard facts in a adult manner as a adult book would.

    There are different ways to present information to different target audience that’s relevant to the target audience but doesn’t have to also be relevant to other target audiences.

    Like presenting Integer and Floating Point scores means nothing to a layman. Only terms and ideas a layman would be familiar with would actually make sense to use in a article directed towards non-technical readers.

    We might as well criticize the readers if we’re to criticize the article written for them.

    While calling something trash or trying to define what should or should not be considered a review when a review is basically a opinion piece to begin with is stepping over the line between constructive criticism and defaming.

    When you call something trash it means it’s beyond salvage. You aren’t saying what could be improved or changed.

    Whether you like Mossberg or not, the guy is a veteran journalist and he’s been writing these sort of articles for literally decades.

    Yet all of a sudden we should suddenly start calling his work trash?

    Never mind, even if the criticism was legit, simple journalistic etiquette calls for such criticism to be at least diplomatically presented. Letting the readers make up their own minds to its actual worth.

    Only acts of plagiarism and intentional false reporting warrant such disrespectful representation of another’s work.

  7. PolkSDA says:

    But who relies on WSJ for computer recommendations? Hell, I never even knew they did computer reviews…

  8. James says:

    Walter Mossberg is a long time tech journalist, even got a award for it and for awhile at least was considered the King Maker as his reviews could make or break a product. Wired even did a article on him back in 2004 titled with that emphasis.

    He’s been with the WSJ since 1970 and has had tech column in the WSJ since 1991, Mossberg and Kara Swisher co-created, produces and hosts the Journal’s annual D: All Things Digital. Also appears weakly on CNBC, among other networks.

    However the guy is like in his mid 60’s now, many in his generation tend to lean towards Apple products, and has always tried to simplify the news for his target audience. So tends to avoid geek speak whenever possible and may be over doing it these days.

  9. Robert says:

    I would consider a sony ultrabook but they seem so late in the game and i am already waiting on the samsung series 9 so unless they are launched in close proximity to each other or there is something really nice about it which is worth the bit of extra weight. i go for the samsung 9 (or maybe spectre)

  10. DCrecil says:

    WSJ is a Republican trash rag, therefor very Pro-Apple. I can’t imagine why anybody would look to them for unbiased reviews considering Windows-based PC’s are very liberal by nature.

  11. James says:

    Interesting considering infographic surveys tend to label Mac Users as predominantly Liberal, Vegetarian, and City-Dwellers… Not your stereotypical Republican.

    Besides, you should look up Walter Mossberg before dismissing his article as just political trash. The guy may like Apple but no one has ever accused him of being politically motivated.

  12. PolkSDA says:

    DCrecil :
    WSJ is a Republican trash rag, therefor very Pro-Apple. I can’t imagine why anybody would look to them for unbiased reviews considering Windows-based PC’s are very liberal by nature.

    Well that’s an early leader in the clubhouse for “2012 Idiotic Comment of the Year”.

  13. HKombAsc says:

    Looks like a republican got his feelings hurt. The parallels are there though.

    Republicans-Apple take a very top down single mindset non-freethinking approach, heavily favoring profits over people, with sheep-like followers.

    Windows/Android take a very Democratic “anything goes” liberal approach. Of course MS is changing all of that with WP7 & W8.

  14. AceFly says:

    Haha, that’s actually a very funny (but good) point.

    I have ALWAYS found it odd that as much as Steve Jobs thought of himself as an outside-the-box freethinking liberal hippie, his company & it’s followers core culture were extremely Republican (for the reasons you mentioned).

  15. James says:

    Uh, no, liberal in US politics doesn’t mean what it use to.

    Really, just look what liberal democrats stand for… Who’s for more regulation… Liberals dems; Who thinks they know better than the masses what’s good for them… progressive Liberals; Who claims to be open minded but the moment anyone disagrees with them on anything they get demonized… Liberals, even if the person disagreeing is a fellow liberal; Anything goes to achieve their agenda… Liberals!

    What you’re actual thinking of is what’s called being Libertarian but there aren’t that many in either party.

    Never mind the erroneous assumption that the author of the article actually has to represent the same political leanings as the newspaper. Especially one that writes for other outlets and goes on shows on places like CNBC, the opposite of any Republican stronghold.

  16. Robert says:

    I hope this blog does not degenerate into some kind of political nonsense bickering that´s the last thing Steve deserves. I could really care less .. I dont come here for that. Needless to say I disagree with the core culture analysis above which is contradicting itself and betrays a myopic view ( terms like democrat vs republican are not relevant outside the US) For me bozo like Richard Dawkins being a declared Apple fan is the one reason I wont go apple :-)

  17. Nick Glynn says:

    You can’t moan at their review for leaving out parts you consider relevant when you leave things such as Linux compatibility out of yours.

    It’s a great way to increase your readership and it costs nothing to throw a few LiveCDs in and record if the camera/audio/standby/hibernate/touchpad/bluetooth work.

    People want different things from different reviews – you can’t please all of the people all of the time =)

  18. Chippy says:

    So you think if I go beyond a preview, full photo set, full review, video unboxing, live video review and Q&A, comment answering and in addition to all that I dive into Linux, something that hasn’t got anything to do with the shipped product, then I’ll be in a position to criticise?

    Bzzzzzt! ;-)

  19. James says:

    Sorry Chippy but he does have a point. Mossberg doesn’t cater to the same type of readers as you do.

    Just like someone else may cater to linux users who would care about how well linux runs on a given system, regardless if it came pre-installed, is another type of reader base from yours.

    Mossberg caters to lay people who have little to no knowledge of computers and tend to have very basic usage concerns. Remember, he started his column all the way back in ’91 and he still writes to pretty much the same type of readers as then.

    While you cater to people who are more technically knowledgeable.

  20. Chippy says:

    Mossberg might write his articles for less technical people but the wall street journal are promoting those as reviews that they know will become leading results in any search for a review. It’s a cheap move by the Wall Street Journal.

  21. James says:

    Chippy, you’re exaggerating, a review does not have to be technical or cover all possible aspects or even be that thorough to be considered a review.

    While like Nick Glynn pointed out, even you don’t cover all aspects of what people could possibly be interested in knowing.

    Whether it’s how the system works with linux, or how it can be optimized for gaming, or whether a product is easy or hard to upgrade or mod, or whether the company is doing anything that might make someone not want to do business with them, etc.

    There are many types of audiences for equally different types of reviews, but like any opinion they’re all entitled to their point of views.

    So like it or not Mossberg does cover a audience different from yours and what they consider important doesn’t have to conform to what you consider important.

    Far as most people are concerned, we find the type of reviews we like and it doesn’t matter what other reviews there are…

    Besides, your complaining about a business news source. WSJ is not CNET, CPU Mag, MaximumPC, Laptop Mag, PC World, etc. that focus primarily on technology. They’re the Wall Street Journal and they put “Wall Street” in their name for a reason!

    Most of their readers are more concerned about the world of business than the technical details of a laptop.

  22. Chippy says:

    Simply put, it’s a poor review. The battery life test doesn’t even reflect an ‘average user’ case. WSJ have put it out there as a review but I want to see better, especially when the media company knows they will be attracting a large percentage of the search engine traffic.

    As for whether I’m entitled to complain, like you, there’s no question. I prefer to complain and have a discussion like this than to sit here and let the quality of ‘reviews’ drop without doing anything.

  23. Michael says:

    You are so thick headed Chippy and arrogant. People here are being nice but what we really want you to know is that you should respect other people’s writings and just because it does not appeal to you, does not mean its wrong. Wow, so arrogant, small boy trying to put down a veteran journalist older to be his father!

  24. Chippy says:

    This is not about Walt, this is about a poor article the WSJ put out as a review.

    Ok. You don’t think its a poor review, I do. I don’t. It’s as simple as that and I’m happy to discuss nut there is absolutely no reason to get personal. NO REASON.

  25. James says:

    Sorry but it is about Mossberg, it’s his article and “All Things D” is more his than the WSJ, and your criticism was directed to what he wrote. Meaning you’ve already made it personal.

    You didn’t provide constructive criticism and you don’t want to even consider it a review because you’re basically refusing to look at it from the viewpoint of his target audience, but instead insisted on looking at it from the viewpoint of your audience!

    Look back on all of Mossberg’s articles, this isn’t a drop in quality but rather status quo, it’s his writing style and intended for a different target audience.

    Really, there are technical sites that makes your reviews as basic looking as Mossberg’s seems to you, but you don’t see them writing negative articles about you.

    Simply put, different audience means different points of view and levels of details.

    People who generally read Mossberg may or may not even understand everything you talk about in your reviews.

    For all you know Mossberg did do a valid review, but he doesn’t use terms or examples his target audience wouldn’t understand.

    The point of his articles is to give his readers a easy to understand general sense of what to expect in a way that matters to them, but not to explain to them how it works or go into a wide range of possible usage scenarios.

    If you want to have a debate of which type of review is more useful and whether todays audience is more geek versus laymen than it use to be, and thus a time for a change, then make it about that but the way you’re going about it now makes me want to start agreeing with Michael.

  26. Michael says:

    I have to agree with James fully. He has hit the nail on its head. Different people cater to/for different audience. For example, articles by AnandTech are so technical that even your artciles might seem simple. But you don’t see AnandTech picking on you.

    And by the way, you did get personal. Read the tone of your article and its so evident.

    All in all, the most important thing in life is respecting your elders. He is a much older and learned gentlement. He tasted salt far earlier than you, learn to respect his wisdom and age.

  27. PolkSDA says:

    Michael :
    I have to agree with James fully. He has hit the nail on its head. Different people cater to/for different audience. For example, articles by AnandTech are so technical that even your artciles might seem simple. But you don’t see AnandTech picking on you.
    And by the way, you did get personal. Read the tone of your article and its so evident.
    All in all, the most important thing in life is respecting your elders. He is a much older and learned gentlement. He tasted salt far earlier than you, learn to respect his wisdom and age.

    You and James are missing the point entirely. Chippy’s referring to your namecalling and insults. That is entirely different from being critical of another outlet’s review.

  28. Richard says:

    PolkSDA, what are you talking about? Chippy was not referring to namecalling.

    The only namecalling was done by you with your statement, “2012 Idiotic Comment of the Year”

    Do you even understand how to read?

  29. PolkSDA says:

    Speaking of reading, I guess you missed the very post that Chippy was referring to:

    “You are so thick headed Chippy and arrogant…. Wow, so arrogant, small boy trying to put down a veteran journalist older to be his father!”

    That’s not namecalling?

  30. James says:

    I wasn’t being disrespectful of Chippy, I only called him on his apparent disrespect of another writer and pointed out he was looking at it from the wrong perspective.

    Remember, he called most of the article “Trash”, and then tried to put it that it shouldn’t even be called a review and doing so was even under handed.

    There is a difference between constructive criticism and insulting another writer’s work!

  31. PolkSDA says:

    Available for order in the U.S., 3 configurations:

  32. Robert says:

    newspaper reviews will never have the dedicated and proffesional approach like chippy´s webpage .. this is the to go place and that´s why i am here daily:-) steve is thoroughly into the subject of ultrabooks on so many levels it´s second to none and i did not see anything disrespectful :) journalists call others up to standards they can certainly handle a call to seriousness :)like that

  33. James says:

    Newspapers often don’t have the luxury to dedicate an unlimited amount of space to anything that isn’t the main selling point of the paper.

    Unlike digital publications, every page of print cost money to produce, and while many also publish online it should be remembered the same articles get printed too.

    Along with the previous point that many cater to different types of audiences means yes, you won’t be seeing the same kinds of articles in a newspaper as you would on sites like Chippy maintains.

    However, calling anyones articles “Trash” and not worthy of even being called a review is disrespectful!

    Constructive criticism involves showing contrasts and offering ways to do it differently but without insulting the other writer in the process.

    Otherwise it degrades to defaming of another writers work and that’s just wrong to do no matter the reasoning behind it.

  34. Chippy says:

    Guys. I’m back from MWC now. Sorry I haven’t replied to this thread; it was a busy week. Packing already for CeBIT where I hope to see more in terms of Ultrabooks!

  35. PolkSDA says:

    Here’s a take on the XPS 13 from a different old fuddy-duddy (and I say that as a term of endearment), John Dvorak:,2817,2400818,00.asp

    Also, looking at this newly posted vid, it looks like the battery life comes up short compared to other ultrabooks, but he also claims that the SSD is faster than other ultrabooks thus far. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go into the testing methodology for either claim:

  36. Voni says:

    The XPS is now available in the USA

  37. Loren says:

    No: journalistic laziness is entirely worthy of disrespect. In fact, it is a huge problem in journalism today, and needs to be recognized for what it is more often. As for Mossberg, his reputation is irrelevant; it does nothing to salvage the empty writing contained in the article. To say criticism happens “all of a sudden” implies arbitrariness; yet this criticism is in response to a concrete stimulus which Mossberg himself provided. There was nothing arbitrary about it. Furthermore, why isn’t “defaming” justified when the party being defamed has legitimately done a miserable job?

    And furthermore, this is not a difference in “writing style”, it is presenting as professional work something so devoid of relevant information that I could have written it without actually owning the computer. Mossberg could have written with Tolstoy-an flare and still failed in his function as a reporter. Additionally, please describe to me a “target audience” that the article could plausibly anticipate. Even a layman, who is looking for a “children’s book”, could not plausibly use the information provided to inform his purchase, or even to form a concrete opinion on this computer.

  38. Andrew says:

    LOL, you talk so much but you don’t even know how to click the “reply” button properly. Learn to use a computer first and how to participate in forums before talking so much.

    At least Mossberg, would not have done that despite his supposedly “laziness”. Maybe you should start reading his column since 1991 to get tips on how to properly comment in forums, discussions and threads.

  39. Loren says:

    Can you reply to a 3rd level post? It’s only giving me the option to quote it. If your post-fu is strong please show me how. If not, perhaps an apology is due.

    In any case, it’s not worth having a serious discussion with people who degrade into ad hominem attacks. Goodbye.

  40. James says:

    First, you’re making an assumption of journalistic laziness. Catering to a different audience is not being lazy. The WSJ is a business world publication with everything else just being side news and catering to a mostly laymen reader base. They don’t focus on computer news!

    Second, Mossberg reputation is not irrelevant. The history of his writings is very relevant to the interpretation of his articles and who they cater to, in order to determine their actual worth. Otherwise you’re basing any analysis of his writing without any perspective to compare.

    Never mind, at the very least to give him the benefit of a doubt instead of persecuting him without anything to show that he has actually changed.

    The only thing his article has been compared to is articles written for a different audience and as already pointed out that’s like comparing two very different writing styles without any perspective as to which is more appropriate for the target audiences.

    A layman is not going to understand what Integer, Floating Point, mAh, WHr, 3D Mark, PC Mark, etc even means. Such technical jargon might as well be Greek to them. They’re only going to understand things compared to things they already know and understand.

    A layman is also not going to be using anything more advance than Office, Chrome, and iTunes. Many of them go for systems like Apple because they don’t have to learn anything or figure anything out to get it to work.

    To a layman, even having to press a key combination that isn’t always common to all systems means they have to learn something just to use common features instead of having dedicated keys for those functions.

    So you essentially are complaining that Mossberg target audience is non-technical and like things simple.

    What this discussion really shows is way too many people are taking things for granted. The world doesn’t consist of a bunch of people just like us. There are all types of people with all types of interests and ways of understanding things and being different doesn’t make any of them invalid.

    The point of the children’s book example is clearly to show that there is nothing wrong with presenting information in a way that best fits a target audience.

    Really, a child book would look simple to a adult but it would be perfectly appropriate for a child to read. Similarly, a layman article is meant for laymen and not for geeks and is just as valid to the target audience it’s meant for!

    Another analogy would be a car purchase. Not everyone needs to know how everything works to decide whether they have enough information to get the car they want.

    Non-car people aren’t going to understand RPM’s, fuel intermix optimization, etc. They’re going to understand things like car A gets better mileage than car B and other similar simple explanations.

    Customers only really need to understand what’s relevant to them and not everyone understands things the same way!

    So criticizing it for not using geek presentation is just as invalid as a engineer criticizing Chippy’s articles for not including thermal thresholds, main board schematics, etc. When his target audience aren’t engineers/scientists.

  41. Observer says:

    James, don’t even bother replying to people who talk nonsense. These are frustrated people, probably unmarried or their partner may have left them due to their twisted thinking. It is rather evident that this individual has no family love, frustrated and probably has not achieved anything in life and so angry with the world.

  42. James says:

    I do not approve of denigrating people with whom I simply disagree with, and besides it would be doing what I already argued we should not be doing!

    Making assumptions without perspective often leads to the wrong conclusions and without proof or at least perspective then everyone should get the benefit of a doubt.

    Besides, simply disagreeing on a subject doesn’t automatically mean people should be on completely opposing sides. There’s often room for more than one point of view and only logical reasoning can, or at least should, put any view above another.

  43. Loren says:

    Actually, I have a hard time thinking you really believe my posts are nonsense, as James and I agree philosophically on a great many points. Of course all writings have to be taken in context, and baseless insults should be shunned by reviewers. We just differ slightly on how that philosophy would apply to this particular situation.

    I cannot think of an audience that would benefit from this particular article, and the information is so vague as to preclude me from thinking the writer seriously thought about this ultrabook. James can envision an audience for which this information would be helpful. That’s really the only difference.

  44. AP says:

    Moss puppet has been in Apple’s pocket for years. If you see his reviews of any Apple product he never finds anything wrong with Apple products. For example the heat issues with Macbook Air when it came out. Moss puppet found Macbook Air was gift from heaven. It was the best laptop ever. He never criticizes extremely high price that Apple charges for its products. Chippy is right to point out the poor review done by Moss puppet. Its about time someone called out Moss puppet.

  45. James says:

    You know some Mac sites said something similar when Mossberg wrote a 500 word section on the Drawbacks of the iPad 2. So much for being a puppet!

    I can see how this got compared to politics, seems a lot of people like to polarize how a writers views actually stand if that writer doesn’t always write what they want to hear!

    So much for freedom of speech, tolerating different points of views, and embracing of diversity.

  46. Michael says:

    When someone starts to call names, it means he is purely jealous of another’s success.

  47. AP says:

    Looks like James and Michael are Apple fanboys.

  48. James says:

    AP :
    Looks like James and Michael are Apple fanboys.

    Nope, just looks like your a troll if that’s the best you can come up with.

  49. Alex says:

    AP :
    Looks like James and Michael are Apple fanboys.

    Looks like AP is a loser. A failure in life.

  50. Latifa says:

    Dell XPS 13 laptop gain WSJ

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