Finally! Having waited for what seemed like an age to get our mucky paws on Dell's latest and possibly greatest consumer notebook, we can bring you a review of the XPS M1330. Doubtless anyone who has already ordered one will be able to substantiate this frustration, because Dell has been struggling to fulfil orders of its latest consumer notebook due to some well publicised production issues. Thankfully, those issues seem to have been alleviated somewhat, though that'll be of little consolation to those who've been waiting for theirs to arrive.
Putting these issues aside for a moment: what's all the fuss about? Take a look at the pictures and you'll begin to understand, because the XPS M1330 is without a doubt one of the best looking consumer notebooks Dell has made in…well, ever actually. Built around a 13.3in display, the chassis measures a sleek and slender 318 x 238 x 33.8mm (WxDxH) at its bulkiest points and weighs 2kg with a 6-cell battery. Dell also claims that this is the thinnest notebook in its class, though this is somewhat disingenuous because the 22.1mm at its thinnest is only possible thanks to the wedged shaped design.
Ultimately this dubious claim isn't especially important, because it does nothing to add or detract from the M1330s undeniable good looks. On the outside Dell continues its use of the Microsatin finish we've previously seen on the Inspiron 1520, which is reputedly a source of Dell's production problems.
In any case, these finishes are both very attractive and very durable, proving predominantly scratch proof unlike the glossy finishes we see on many notebooks these days. Our unit came in a fetching Crimson Red, while the M1330 is also available in "Tuxedo" Black - it's remarkable how many kinds of black there are. This coloured trim is framed by strips of silver either side, while the silver XPS lettering and inset Dell logo are a vast improvement over the rather clownish logos found on the company's other consumer offerings.
Clearly then, the M1330 is something of a departure for Dell. Moreover, as a design it strikes a lovely balance. Elements such as the outer finish give it a striking visual appearance; while the simple metallic silver and charcoal grey combination on the inside give it a classy and understated look. It's a powerful combination, making the M1330 ideal for both consumers and the business user who wants something a little out of the ordinary but not too garish at the same time.
There are plenty of other nice touches too, such as the slot loading optical drive, the touch sensitive media keys and the media remote, which slots discreetly into the 54mm ExpressCard bay. Also worthy of note is the display, in this instance a 1,280 x 800 resolution LED backlit panel. Dell also provides a standard panel that's cheaper, but the LED backlit version is truly superb thanks to superior brightness levels, vibrant colour production and razor sharp detail. A glossy high contrast coating helps in this regard too and it's not the most reflective finish we've seen either, which is a significant bonus.