The Dell XPS 15 9550 Review: Infinity Edge Lineup Expandsby Brett Howse on March 4, 2016 8:00 AM EST
After everything we've seen so far, what is there to say about the XPS 15? As a pure exercise in style, mimicking the look and feel of the XPS 13 was definitely the right way to go. The same Infinity Edge display allows Dell to squeeze a 15-inch notebook into the space that most 14-inch models take up. The aluminum outside feels great in the hand, but the contrasting dark carbon fibre weave on the keyboard deck makes the keys easier to read, and it also does a better job resisting fingerprints. The soft touch coating makes typing on the XPS 15 very comfortable.
XPS 15 Compared to 15.6-inch Lenovo Y700
The keyboard is roughly (if not exactly) the same as the XPS 13 keyboard, which I liked. The 1.3 mm of travel is kind of shallow for a laptop this large, but overall it is pretty good. There are better keyboards around, but it would not take long to get used to typing on the XPS 15. The trackpad is excellent, with plenty of room to work, and nice smooth scrolling. The Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers lack some of the customizability of other trackpad drivers, but the gestures available are enough for what I need.
Performance is very good, thanks to a quad-core Skylake processor and a NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics card. This isn’t a dedicated gaming system, but the GPU can hold its own and even allow you to play modern games as long as you are OK turning the graphics down a bit. The CPU performance is strong, although as with the Lenovo Y700, the Skylake quad-core didn’t bring a big jump in performance over Broadwell.
The display shipped on the review unit is the 3840x2160 UHD panel with support for the Adobe RGB color space, but the wider gamut can't make up for the disappointing accuracy out of the box. Once calibrated though, this display can hold its own with pretty much anything out there. Text is very crisp, and colors are very vibrant. It’s a shame that there’s not an easier way to use Adobe RGB, but with more devices starting to support this color space perhaps Windows will work on how it deals with different gamuts. We can hope.
The downside of the over 8 million pixels though is the less than amazing battery life. With a large 84 Wh battery, I was hoping for more than 7.5 hours on our light test, but that wasn’t the case. The efficiency is not fantastic, and it is also hindered by LED backlighting that supports a higher gamut, although we did run our testing on sRGB mode. Overall battery life isn’t much different than the XPS 15 9530 that we tested a while back, despite the IGZO display and latest generation processor. It’s hard to get around driving light through that many pixels. The 1920x1080 IPS panel offered in the base model would certainly help here, though not having tested that model it's hard to say just how much it would help.
Dell didn’t load the XPS 15 down with too much extra software either, which is nice. The Dell PremierColor application is great though, and being able to make improvements to the built in Windows Snap assist is a good move. Much of the time I’m not interested in extra software, but if an OEM can improve upon something that is built in, it’s hard to argue with them adding it in.
Overall, the XPS 15 is one of the sleekest 15-inch laptops on the market. If I was looking to purchase something of this size, the XPS 15 would be near the top of my list, thanks to the excellent build quality, great design, and compact size. When you work it, it does get loud, but the combination of good qualities in the XPS 15 are hard to ignore.
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Hulk - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkIt's really not that hard. 1. Always use a tripod. 2. White balance when shooting (white card) or in PS. 3. Go full manual or aperture priority to get the exposure right, spot meter. 4. Shoot the sweet spot of every lens which is generally f/8. Again use the tripod and timer so you can deal with long exposures which will be necessary.
It's not like you're shooting a moving kid or portrait.
Beany2013 - Saturday, March 5, 2016 - linkTo be honest, the best way to get an amateur to take better photos is to hunt down a professional photographer and find out how much they'd charge for a consultation. Given that AT isn't a professional photography site, I'd wager most wouldn't mind not being the ones taking the photos, and would appreciate letting an interested amateur pick up some tips from the trade to improve their overall craft.
I've been trying to get a semi-client of mine who operates a photobooth to do this for near three years now (I'm not a pro snapper so I don't feel I can teach him well enough) but he still doesn't do it - presumably, texting me is cheaper as I only charge in coffee and cake ;-)
But it's definitely worth a pop. Taking a usable photo is fine, taking a really nice, professional *looking* photo is very much it's own reward.
I agree with other commenters that the main meat of the article is definitely the words though; these photos might not be studio quality, but they're plenty clear enough for their purpose. Having them a bit nicer would be a bonus, and as a techy person and amateur snapper myself, I'm pretty certain Brett would enjoy learning how to bodge some nicer pics in - it's a lot of fun messing with this stuff with 'our' analytical kind of mindset.
Shadow7037932 - Saturday, March 5, 2016 - linkHere's the thing, you don't need $10k in gear to take good photos. You can get a refurb D3200/D3300 (~$330-350) with a fast standard zoom with good sharpness (Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS HSM) for ~$300-350. Add in an off camera flash or two (~$60-70ea). Add in a CPL filter (~$50-60 for a good one) for dealing with reflections and a light box (~$40-50 for a large one) and you're all set.
As far as white balance and other things goes, shoot RAW, and deal with it in post. Or do it in camera using the custom white balance.
nagi603 - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkAs someone who has invested into photography, you don't need 10k. Not even close. Frankly, your micron shot doesn't even have correct white balance. Fixing that would be a breeze if you shoot in RAW, use the same temperature lights, and used any post processing software. And yes, I've been there, I did shoot stuff as a journalist. Now I'm shooting events as a hobby, so I know what I'm talking about.
tuxRoller - Sunday, March 6, 2016 - linkIt's too bad the Verge doesn't spend as much time on article content.
Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkPhotography is clearly not my strongest suit, but I've got some things I will try for the next review which I hope will help with the photos. Laptops are not the easiest thing for my to photograph and get a good result. Please bear with me as I try to step up my game on the images.
trenchtoaster - Friday, March 11, 2016 - linkI have been reading AT for years now and this is the post which drove me to create an account and comment. I literally have no idea why the image you linked is any better than the ones from the article that you posted previously. What makes the image you linked so much better? I feel like I am missing something
sircod - Friday, March 4, 2016 - linkI didn't notice it until you pointed it out, but that is pretty bad. Looks like he is shooting on a Canon EOS Rebel T4i, which apparently doesn't correct geometric distortion on its JPEGs.
Brett Howse - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkThat's exactly what I am using, and apparently it does not. I, as an amateur photographer, did not even notice the distortion until it was pointed out, but I'll try to avoid it in the future.
close - Monday, March 7, 2016 - linkYou think someone buying a $1500+ laptop takes the decision based on how the pictures of the laptop look like on a website? Maybe people will assume the laptop is all bendy and with uneven color, right? I mean it's obvious they made one side of the laptop too bright and the other too dark.
You go to a review site for he things you can't see in the store, not for some glamour shots. Yeah, of course they could be better but personally I don't think this subtracts anything from the value of the review.
Also going for the IQ argument because you think the picture looks bad makes you look even dumber than your idea that "people won't buy the laptop if the picture wasn't shot RAW".