Connectivity is, on the whole, good for a notebook of this size. On the left you'll find DC-in, D-SUB, Ethernet, HDMI and a four-pin FireWire port, as well as a single USB port. Audio connections can be found at the front, with dual headphone jacks and an input for an external microphone as well as an infrared receiver for the media remote and a card reader. Alternatively there are microphones built into the chassis, which sit either side of the 0.3-megapixel webcam. Strangely, though, if you opt for the cheaper non-LED backlit display you get a 2.0-megapixel webcam instead. It seems odd, but for its purposes 0.3-megapixels is perfectly adequate for a webcam.
Moving onto the right edge you'll find the only other USB port, making two in total. Though this is a small notebook, it would have been nice to have at least three USB ports considering the number of devices one tends to have these days. Also on the right edge, though, is a 54mm ExpressCard slot, which instead of the usual plastic blanker features a very welcome media remote. This is joined by an On/Off switch for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, with the Wi-Fi Catcher slider just a little further along. The rest of the space is taken up by the slot loading optical drive, whose Eject button is part of the bank of touch sensitive controls above the keyboard.
For raw performance testing the XPS M1330 was put through our usual set of benchmarks, including PCMark 05 and our in-house Photoshop Elements and Virtual Dub tests. Overall performance was in line with expectations, with a solid 4,573 Overall PCMark score and a CPU score just under 5,000 -- both of which are very creditable. Results from our in-house tests were also good showing that, were it needed, the M1330 is up to some more intensive tasks. In general use though, the M1330 with the Core 2 Duo T7300 is snappy and brisk. A fact that will change little if you spec the T7250, which given the pricing would be sensible.
Compared to competing models, the M1330 also fares well. Sony's excellent SZ Series is the M1330's most natural competitor and the Dell matches it in nearly every department, while surpassing it in many others. Whereas the SZ shows its age in some respects, the M1330 looks and feels fresh and exciting. It has a better keyboard, sports better connectivity, while features like the removable media remote make the M1330 a more adaptable performer. One of the few things Sony's SZ does have over the M1330 is the ability to switch between discrete and integrated graphics, giving it a slight advantage over the M1330 in battery life.
However, the difference wasn't enough to stop us concluding that the Dell M1330 is the best Windows based notebook in its class. Of all 13.3in notebooks available, none can match the combination of quality features, performance and design savvy that the XPS M1330 achieves. Thus, if you want a Windows machine of this size, you can't do much better.
As of now the XPS M1330 is the best Windows based 13.3in notebook you can buy. Its dizzying combination of great design and market leading features make it an adaptable machine, capable of satisfying both the mobile worker and those with more multimedia orientated requirements.