Two Dell XPS 13 notebook computers.

London - When it comes to computing power, it’s all too easy to start feeling like Dr Evil in Austin Powers demanding “one meellion dollars” not to destroy the world, only to discover that thanks to 30 years of inflation, the going rate is now $100 billion.

Laptops have the Dr Evil problem in spades.

Sure, with the XPS 13 Dell may have crammed a real, dual-core PC into a device so thin you could hide it under a sheet of A4 paper – but phones have quadcores now.

The comparison’s not fair, really: Windows and Android are apples and pears.

But it does get you thinking about the Dell’s price tag.

And while laptops haven’t quite lost their mojo to the disastrous extent that Mike “Dr Evil” Myers has comedy-wise, it’s difficult to get worked up over Intel’s Ultrabooks (thin, high-power machines that are the chip giant’s last, faintly desperate offensive against the iPad).

On the other hand, the Dell XPS 13 is gloriously sexy. It’s very rare to use the words “sexy” and “Dell” in the same sentence – but with its on-trend mix of magnesium, aluminium and carbon fibre, this out-glams the MacBook Air and the similarly sleek Asus Zenbook.

If you’re looking for a laptop purely to make other geeks look at you enviously in coffee shops, this is your chap.

Dell’s laptop engineers must have high-fived, had a celebratory game of World of Warcraft (or whatever it is computer engineers do to celebrate), then thought, “Hang on – we can charge as much as Apple for this!”

And that’s the problem.

Not only does the top model cost R18 999 – enough to buy a couple of regular, perfectly decent (if portly) Windows laptops – but they’ve copied Apple down to the point of removing the ports. There’s no SD card slot, no Ethernet, no HDMI out.

It’s like buying a beautiful house only to find there’s no door and you have to crawl in through the letter box. – Daily Mail


l The built-in speakers sound a bit flat – probably because they are. You’ll need headphones to fully enjoy 720p HD films on the nice-but-not-brilliant LCD screen – although the Gorilla Glass display goes almost edge to edge, earning the Dell another design gold star.

l Buy this for a gamer and you’ll see a very sad face. Possibly even tears. Like most Ultras, this relies on Intel’s own built-in graphics – that is, it’s no use for gaming.

l Naturally, there’s no hard disk here: it’s all solid-state – and you won’t get the vast, rolling fields of storage that you will on a big laptop. But in these store-everything-online days, do we care?