Screen and Speakers
The XPS 15z has a 15.6-inch display with a glossy/reflective surface. The notebook is available with two screens: a base 720p model (1366×768 pixels) and a full HD 1080p (1920×1080) model with superior color reproduction and brightness (300-nit); our review unit has the latter.
The 1080p display is positively gorgeous and worth every penny over the standard display. The colors are warm and pop out of the screen; cheaper screens such as those found on most consumer notebooks are dull and cold by comparison. Additionally the 1080p display is noticeably brighter than run-of-the-mill displays, 300 nits to be exact. Besides the quality, the resolution is excellent – 1920×1080 is the highest available on a 15.6-inch notebook. There are enough pixels on the display to comfortably allow two windows side-by-side. A 1080p resolution has 40% more vertical pixels than the base 720p screen, meaning 40% less scrolling is required on average. The only downside of this display is the glossy surface, which is a double-edged sword; it enhances contrast and clarity but adds reflections and is difficult to clean.
Two stereo speakers are located on either side of the keyboard. They have sufficient volume but have a “thin” or somewhat tinny sound with hardly any bass.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The XPS 15z has a full-size keyboard with white backlighting. Unlike other 15.6-inch Dell notebooks this one does not have a separate numeric keypad. The flat-topped keys are smooth to the touch. Unfortunately this keyboard offers little feedback and is not pleasing to type on. The key travel is so short it hardly feels like the keys move, making it somewhat difficult to type quickly. The feel is vague and lacking overall.
There are also issues with the layout. Dell neglected to make the home, end, page up, and page down keys dedicated; instead they are integrated into the arrow keys as secondary functions (the [Fn] key needs to be pressed in conjunction). As a frequent user of these keys, I found it to be inconvenient at best. In the end it looks like Dell focused on form over function when designing this keyboard.
The Cypress touchpad on the other hand is excellent. It has a large, smooth surface that is easy to track on even with damp fingers. The two buttons are separate (not a single piece) and provide excellent cushioned feedback. Their most important aspect is quietness; I test too many notebooks with loud touchpad buttons.