Another Low Quality TN Panel

Stop me if you've heard this one before. AnandTech receives a notebook for review from a vendor not named Sony or Apple, and that notebook features a cut rate 1366x768 TN panel with poor viewing angles, poor color, poor contrast, and just poor quality all around. While I don't take issue with that resolution on a 13" screen, everything else only continues to be aggravating, and it's a situation notebook vendors just don't seem to be in any great rush to correct.

If you'll forgive my soapboxing for a second, this wasn't quite as aggravating before the tablet boom. At that point in time, there wasn't any device we could really point to and say "why can't we have that on a notebook?" You could argue that tablets necessitate IPS panels, but high resolution ones like the ones that are beginning to proliferate? And how do they really necessitate them any more than a notebook would, when you're still going to be looking at the screen from roughly the same angles? Yet tablets continue to enjoy excellent quality screens while notebook users are being left out in the cold.

LCD Analysis - Contrast

LCD Analysis - White

LCD Analysis - Black

LCD Analysis - Delta E

LCD Analysis - Color Gamut

The Sony Vaio Z2's high resolution screen runs roughshod over the competition, while the XPS 13 ranks only as one of the best of a bad bunch. It's incredibly difficult for us, as consumers, to demand better or vote with our dollars when there are virtually no notebooks out there with good panels for us to vote for. Dell is theoretically a big enough vendor to get good panels in the kind of bulk order needed for economy of scale, and I can't help but wish they'd throw that weight around.

Viewing angles are adequate, but the sweet spot is hard to find as is often the case with TN panel notebook screens in this size class. Really, we just need better screens.

Battery, Noise, and Heat Conclusion: Excellent Starting Point


View All Comments

  • ArmanUV - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    That's a "good thing"? How on earth can you not care about the screen, trackpad and keyboard? What good is a beefed up internal hardware when you have to suffer everytime you actually have to use the device?
    Do people buy laptops to brag about the cpu/gpu or do they actually use it?
  • robco - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    That's the problem though, the XPS line is supposed to be high-end. If they wanted to make a cheaper ultrabook, they should have made it an Inspiron. There should be a higher quality baseline for a higher end product line. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    Agreed. Everything about this thing looked great, besides the resolution (and the battery could be better, but I don't usually go that long unplugged). Reply
  • nklak - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    I am CEO of dell partner company, and requested Vostro V131 as soon as it was availavable in channel. Great notebook, excelent ergonomy (superb battery capacity and design) etc. etc. After 3 days of looking to lousy screen, ditched it to my wife and bought myself a sony. I still think that V131 is BETTER overall than sony Z but I COULD NOT look into it. This 768p dimm screens with no life on them are terrible. I am bussinesman, I dont watch movies on 13.3" so 16:10 (1440x900) is far more usable for all bussines apps. Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    My pesonal opinion is that the 16:9 ratio just does not work well with smaller screens. It only becomes acceptable at 17", (although I probably could live with a 15" screen at 1600 x 900). I'm still using a work-provided 1920 x 1200 17" Dell from 2006. I'm approved for a new laptop, but just don't want to lose the beautiful screen I have now. I'm seriously thinking about getting a MacBook and running windows on it. Reply
  • Cloudie - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    'Aesthetics are almost always a matter of taste, but I continue to personally prefer the looks of the XPS 13 to the other ultrabooks on the market barring the hot pink Zenbook ASUS produces.'

    This line tickled me! haha. Also loving the aesthetics of the XPS 13 but it's a shame about the other stuff. Thanks for the great review!
  • Ryan1981 - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    Hi, I was wondering, I don't know the meaning of the expression barring in this context (I am dutch :P) Would you care to explain what the reviewer means by "barring the zenbook"

    Thanks a lot
  • Cloudie - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    Barring in this context means 'except' or 'with the exception of'. :) Reply
  • dfiler76 - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - link

    Exactly. In other words, what the reviewer means is:

    'Aesthetics are almost always a matter of taste, but I continue to personally prefer the looks of the XPS 13 to nearly all the other ultrabooks on the market. The only one I think looks nicer is the hot pink Zenbook ASUS produces.'
  • Ryan1981 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    Thanks a lot both :D Reply

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