The XPS 13 and 15 Displays

My standards for notebook worth centers around the input, and the display. We interact through these things, and I'm willing to accept a performance tradeoff if the quality of those key components is of sufficient merit. Not everyone will agree with this, but I don't find even the most powerful notebook particularly useful if I have trouble with an inferior trackpad or struggle with a poor keyboard experience, or if the screen is of poor quality.

We went over the keyboard and touchpad on the previous page, and now we'll take a look at display quality.

Head on both displays look outstanding, with rich color and good contrast; though the XPS 15 has greater saturation and deeper blacks. Shifting the notebooks off-angle reveals the problem with glare you will encounter from these glass touchscreen versions:

I only had an issue with glare in direct sunlight, and this is about the same as what you can expect with any Gorilla Glass covered device.

The screens on both the XPS 13 and 15 are impressive in their own right, but looking at the XPS 15 is something of a revelation. This is in no way an 'ordinary' notebook screen, as we have the 4K IGZO panel in our review unit.

The XPS 15's 4K display offers rich color and high contrast

"XPS 15 is the only laptop with 100% minimum Adobe RGB, so you get a true representation of Adobe color that’s rich, vivid and bold. And with the Dell PremierColor application, webpages, videos and images are automatically adjusted into Adobe RGB format for the most accurate color, every time."

The display provides "100% minimum Adobe RGB" color, and is as impressive a panel as any you'll find outside of OLED. Indeed, there is an OLED-like quality to this display from the 4K IGZO panel.

IGZO structure (Image credit: Sharp)

After spending time with it I have to say it's the finest notebook screen I've ever seen. Realistic, saturated color that makes all other screens in my house pale (literally) in comparison. The only other computer screen of any kind I've seen that matches this is found on the late 2015 5K iMac (IPS with RGBr backlighting). To have a display of this quality on a portable is pretty incredible.

The XPS 13 is certainly no slouch – and given the gap in pricing these probably won't be compared side-by side by prospective buyers. If they are, the 4K version of the XPS 15 will make the XPS 13's display look a little washed-out, but on its own merit the 13 offers a great notebook display experience.

To provide a quick look at the the color produced by these displays, I quickly assessed the out-of-box color experience using my Spyder4Pro colorimeter, using HCFR to generate these RGB coverage charts. First we have the XPS 13:

Very good result here for the uncalibrated screen. Now we'll take a look at the 4K display from the XPS 15:

A huge difference here, obviously. Look at the significant green and blue coverage compared to the XPS 13; which explains why some colors were so rich-looking. This display could probably use a calibration for greater accuracy, but it is capable of displaying far more color than the 13, and looks fantastic in person even in its out-of-box state.

Viewing angles are very good (outside of the issue with glare with the glass screens in direct lighting), and I found the high resolution of our XPS review units (3200×1800 for the XPS 13 and 3840×2160 for the XPS 15) ideal for a 200% scaling percentage, which looked very smooth and detailed on screen. Apple uses 200% scaling for "retina" displays accross their product lines, and there's a reason for it. Windows 10 seems to handle scaling just a bit better than Win8/8.1 did, and I was very happy with the clarity of text and overall UI experience.

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