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  • momoX52 - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Given how good this display is when calibrated, do you have the tools to check display uniformity like what is done with desktop monitors? Reply
  • hfm - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    "Overall, though, Splendid definitely isn’t what I would choose for proper colors. In general, the default colors in either mode aren’t that great, which is why we’d really like Dell (and others with these high-end panels) to factory calibrate."

    This is just the tip of the iceberg that is the uphill climb Dell has in regards to their QC woes on this premium-priced device. All you have to do is take a look at the number of people on a notebook review's XPS 15 forum.. with multiple returns. We're talking coil whine, dead pixels, laptop not closing properly or staying closed (and other build quality problems). Someone will RMA for one thing then get a unit back with something else wrong.

    I understand there is a level of defects expected but when you charge this much for a product where it's a premium price point you better ace the QC and not send people junk that looks like you have zero attention to detail.
  • Albino Digits - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    You're right. That is one of the reasons Apple products are so appealing. Not only do they make high quality devices, but they are very willing to go above and beyond to make a customer happy. Having an Apple store in every major US city doesn't hurt either.

    I run Windows on my desktop (primary computing device), and I have an Android tablet and phone. My partner has an iPhone, iPad, and pre-retina 13" Macbook Pro. Windows is my computer OS of choice. Where are the high quality Windows laptops with well calibrated displays though? The Lenovo T440S has a great display, but it won't match the Macbook Pro in build quality or battery life. There are heavier, larger workstation notebooks that fulfill those requirements too. It's a shame that Apple is only one that can get it right. If they made better Windows drivers, I would buy one without hesitation.

    The same thing applies to tablets. I went to Micro Center the other day, and I liked everything about the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 except the fact that it looked tacky and felt cheap compared to the iPad Air. Give me an iPad Air with Android, and you have a sale. Sorry about the rant. I can't be the only one that feels this way though.
  • Solandri - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Sony puts in good displays on their high-end laptops. I'm typing this on a Vaio VPC-Z1 whose stock display exceeds sRGB. The optional FHD display nearly covers Adobe RGB.

    Their latest offerings haven't been as good, but the Pro, Flip, and Fit still test between 90%-97% sRGB. Unfortunately if you're a fan of the "unyielding metal frame" the Macbook Pros use, you probably won't like the Sonys. They take the "bend like a reed in the wind" approach to surviving blows. Aside from the keyboard bezel, the laptop is rather flexible, almost alarmingly so. But I've dropped it a few times over the years and it's escaped no worse for the wear.

    The display has spoiled me rotten and I'm having a hard time finding a replacement. Sony just sold their VAIO division and it remains to be seen if the new owners will support graphics and video professionals to the extent Sony did.
  • Mentawl - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Meh, Apple laptops are, ironically, too much form over function for me. Have you seen the temperatures the components hit if your MBP has a discrete GPU and you put it and the CPU under any kinda load? Freaked me out - I owned a MBP for about 10 days, then returned it because my fingers were tingling due to the heat on the QWERTY row. Shame really, it was a nice machine otherwise. Reply
  • icwhatudidthere - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    I picked up an XPS 15 and have a slight blemish on the aluminum but that's all.

    On the other hand, while Macs are generally pretty good QC-wise, I've still had mixed results with Apple from a keyboard with broken keys out of the box which Apple refused to replace until I occupied a Genius Bar seat and threw a fit to a MacBook that would instantly power off with no warning. And I've never gotten the advertised 5 hours out of my MacBook Pro (an older unit) but I'm easily getting 10 hours out of my Dell.

    Maybe I was lucky (knock on wood) but after 20 years of buying Apples, this XPS 15 strikes me as 95% as good as a Mac.
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    To have such a wild swing post calibration is rather unfortunate. It means either Dell didn't care to show accurate colors on the display or purposefully went with a more punchy blue to appeal to customers. And it's a real shame too since they put far more thought and effort into their UltraSharp monitors which come calibrated out of the box. Reply
  • Rexyl - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    How does the quality of this display compare to the current MBPs? Is the XPS15 and MBP the only sub $2000 option for those who need colour accuracy above all else? Trying to find a laptop with a great display but I'm not going to shell out $2500+ for a laptop with a workstation GPU has proven a frustration. Anyone that does photography work have any good suggestions?

    What are you guys using to calibrate?
  • Rexyl - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    And by -you- I mean photography people. I see the reviewer is using calman 5. Reply
  • Solandri - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    I've been looking at different screens and even replacement screens. The manufacturers actually specify a range of color space. Apparently there is enough unit-to-unit variation that one screen may test at over 100% sRGB, while another screen of the same model may test below 100% sRGB. Apple pre-calibrates the screens on the Macbook Pros before shipping, so anything sub-sRGB gets filtered out before reaching the end user. The Windows laptop vendors don't seem to care as much, so you may get lucky or not.

    I assume the HP Elitebook and Dell Precision M3800 (XPS 15 clone) are the $2500+ workstations you're talking about?

    The Samsung Book 9, Yoga 2 Pro, and one other laptop whose name escapes me right now use the same screen that tests at about 97% sRGB. It is 3200x1800, but a non-standard RGBW arrangement - and therin lies the rub. Apparently on AC it doesn't use the W (white) subpixel and is a beautiful display. But on battery it uses the W to enhance brightness without using as much battery. As a result, the colors appear faded.

    As I mentioned above, the Sony Vaio Pro, Fit, and Flip use screens which test between 90%-97% sRGB.

    The previous gen Asus UX32VD had a 100% sRGB screen. Their current gen isn't as impressive - one is ~70%, while two are ~90%. I am waiting for their Haswell refresh to see if they pick better screens.

    A bunch of 14" laptops which use the AU Optronics B140HAN01.1 (AUO113D) screen test at about 90%-95% sRGB. The most accessible is the Acer V7-482PG (about $1000). Remember what I said about unit-to-unit variation? Anandtech's review of it had one of the best gamut measurements they've ever gotten.

    GenTechPC is a reseller for a bunch of laptops (mostly gaming, but some regular). They offer to customize some models with a 95% NTSC screen on the 15.6" models. It covers nearly all of Adobe RGB. After a bit of research, I was able to figure out it was a AUO B156HW01 V.4. The tech specs say it can exceed sRGB, though again unit-to-unit variation indicates many units slightly miss on the blue end. It's the panel used in the Thinkpad W540. It's TN but with good viewing angles (for a TN). Unfortunately it's only 6 bits, presumably using dithering to generate 16.7 million colors from a 262k palette.

    A bunch of new laptops and screens were released during CES and CeBIT, so we will have to wait until they're tested to get a feel for their gamut.

    And I use an iDisplay Pro to calibrate. The Sypder 4 seems to be as good, and I get the impression the default software is a bit better (has more features). Calman has a free color checker, but I haven't bothered paying for their calibration software.

    (And one note of caution about using % of sRGB or Adobe RGB as a metric. These color spaces overlap, but do not cover the same area. So it's possible to have a screen which covers both 90% of Adobe RGB but also only 90% of sRGB, even though Adobe RGB is substantially bigger than sRGB.)
  • Rexyl - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the post Solandri! This helps me out a lot. I'll be doing some more looking this weekend. Reply
  • Albino Digits - Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - link

    I know I'm just seeing this three months later, but that is a super informative comment, Solandri. Thanks! Reply
  • jphughan - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    A few extra notes about the splendid mode control in Windows Mobility Center since it can be a bit "shy". First, you need to have Dell Quickset installed in order to have that option in Mobility Center. Second, Windows needs to boot with that display enabled, so if you have an external display connected and your display configuration has your built-in panel disabled in that setup, you won't see splendid mode in Mobility Center even after you enable the built-in display; you have to restart in a way that has the built-in panel enabled right from startup. And third, some customers who have had their motherboards replaced have noticed this option missing despite the above two conditions being met. It turns out the fix it to start your machine ONCE with the BIOS set for Secure Boot disabled and Legacy Option ROMs enabled. Once you've done that, it will reappear, at which point, you can switch those options back to their previous settings and it will continue to stick around. Reply
  • jphughan - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I'm all over that thread (under the same nickname) and while yes there are a disappointingly high number of issues with this system, keep in mind that people on forums are generally more likely to be there about issues and problems rather than to post that everything is fine. I have coil whine on my system, but I've had it on all of my previous laptops that used high-wattage power supplies, so I didn't even consider it an issue until so many people complained -- but other than that my system has been absolutely flawless. I suspect that despite the indications on the forums, I'm in the majority. It's just that the people who are annoyed tend to be much more vocal. Not an excuse for QC problems, especially those who have had repeated issues, but that's not an indication that the majority of people getting these systems are having problems. Reply
  • Wally Simmonds - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I've also got one of these laptops and very happy with it - got it from the DFO for 1600 AU for the mid spec. No coil whine, and the screen out of the box is great for me.

    I've traditionally been a Lenovo man, so the only thing I miss really is the trackpoint - everything else has been great.
  • Tujan - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Of course you have to have the Display color calibrated . But as for the PPI among the applications. I'm just wondering the reason "CTRL+C" doesn't just do it for you. Reply
  • Tujan - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    edit: "CTRL + " doesn't do it for you. Reply
  • jphughan - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Several reasons: One is that not all applications support zooming in that fashion. Another is that even if it does support zooming, you're not actually getting sharper graphics, just larger -- which defeats the point of having a HiDPI display. And third, some applications would best be designed to scale only certain parts of their UI. For example, with Photoshop you would want the toolbars and controls scaled up to be legible, but you would NOT want the image itself to be scaled; that would still be rendered with a 1:1 pixel mapping in order to take advantage of the increased DPI. Reply
  • Tujan - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    Yeai know. All you need is programing for everything you just listed. Either with controls within the applications themselves. Or something to have 'independent resolutions'within the applications. Given the monitor could do so. Anything other than doing a larger DPI (system wide). Or actually setting the overal resolution. Or doing yourself an unfavor,by increasing the Font sizes,and draining the printer ink for your run to the store. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Why is your comment a direct copy/paste extract from someone hfm's comment, with a shortened link that goes to an unrelated product on Amazon? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    Sorry -- missed the spam and now it's gone, so your post is a bit orphaned. Please, people, don't force me to mark your account as spam by posting (affiliate) links to unrelated products! I can only assume you're a spambot when that happens, so "BenjaminCHiggins", you got deleted. Reply
  • B3an - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    Still no article on the DX12 announcement? Reply
  • JGreene - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    " a high DPI PPS (like IPS) panel"

    What is a PPS panel? I can't find any reference to it anywhere else. Do you mean PLS (Samsung's take in IPS)?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    No, there's reference elsewhere to this being "PPS" from Sharp, which means it's probably about the same as PLS and IPS, but not exactly or there would be patent issues. Reply
  • randomw - Friday, March 21, 2014 - link

    @Jared Could you post something on how you calibrate LCDs? Or a review on calibration tools? What would you recommend to someone who would like a calibrated monitor but not have the resources to spend the way a professional might? Reply
  • GreenThumb - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    Solandri, I second the thanks for your reply back on page 1
    Please reply here with more of your findings.

    Also I second the above request for articles on calibration tools. They seem like voodoo to me.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 22, 2014 - link

    I would defer to Chris Heinonen on this subject, as he knows far more about it than I do! Reply
  • Maxal - Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - link

    Availability though could be better, my order is being pushed back and back....from start of February, now its ship date is on 14.04.....on Dell website high end models are at 23.04.... Reply
  • CGameProgrammer - Monday, March 31, 2014 - link

    I went to the local Windows store this weekend and they had the XPS 15 on display as well as the Samsung ATIV Book Plus 9 (a 13" 3200x1800 laptop). The XPS' screen looked great - sharp, bright, with excellent reds and yellows. The Samsung, along with another laptop that used the same screen, had a ridiculously awful yellow - RGB(255,255,0) literally appeared as a dark olive color. Red looked good and bright so I don't know why it was so inept at producing yellow. The 13" and 11" 2560x1440 screens all looked decent but avoid whatever laptops have that 13" 3200x1800 screen. (Again, the XPS 15's 15.6" screen is fine.) Reply
  • radcpuman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    I'm curious about your comment "considering the number of high DPI displays coming down the pipe".

    I really hope 17" notebooks can get the some Quad HD love soon. I am using an old dell 17" that has 1600x1200 display just for the extra 120 lines of resolution holding out for either QHD or Ultra HD displays.

    Do you now of any High DPI 17" notebooks in the works?
  • rpagespollo - Thursday, May 22, 2014 - link

    Has someone checked the unit with a 1080p display? There is a lower configuration with a 1080p display instead of the HiDPI display. Reply
  • n8turepix - Saturday, April 25, 2015 - link

    Jarred, thanks for doing this excellent work. I have a question and comment. When using i1Profiler to calibrate, it wants to know the display type (CCFL, white LED, color LED, etc.) I took a guess at white LED. Is that right?

    The comment: For newer laptops, it appears that Splendid Color has now gone away. There is now an Intel HD Graphics Control Panel app that controls display settings. There are options to adjust color enhancement and saturation, but not having your instruments I don't know what the best settings would be. If you can get access to a new machine, the right settings for the new app would be most useful. I did all the other workarounds mentioned here with disabling Secure Boot but the Mobility Center does not show the control for Splendid Color. Dell Support says it's not in the build for this model of the XPS 15 (March 2015).
  • n8turepix - Saturday, April 25, 2015 - link

    Some other comments on this laptop. Display brightness does fluctuate a lot when on battery. There are options to turn this off, but of course battery life will suffer. For critical work, plug in to AC power. This is also a bright display, and it helps to calibrate for both the native brightness and 120 nits. Reply

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