GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams
Olive: Dell XPS13 9380
20190310 The Dell XPS13 9380 (2019) is currently reviewed as the best 13 inch laptop. Common pros are the keyboard, screen, 3 USB-C with 2 Thunderbolt and 1 Powershare, with the WebCam back at the top (compared to the repvious model that recieved criticism for having nose-cam). The Cons are no HDMI nor USB-A and the powerfull 4K display is a battery drain. The battery live is said to be 8 hours of typical use. It is a “gorgeous” machine and gets a 5-star rating from PCMag as “the best ultraportable laptop you can buy.” It has a 13.3" 4K display (336mm as I measure it). It also has a 3.5mm audio jack and stereo speakers.
The system was purchased from a local Singaporean retailer, Courts, at the Singapore IT Show 2019. Advertised and on-line price was SGD $2699. The best we could get (noting that all vendors, Challenger, Harvey Norman, and GainCity were quoting the same price) was SGD $2294 with some 12 accessories added by Courts, including official Dell sleeve, USB-C to VGA adaptor, a wireless mouse with USB-A, and a box of accessories including USB-C to USB-A, travel adaptor, earpods/microphone, USB card reader, keyboard protector, cable pouch, etc.
Choosing a we started with XPS and noted that there is a kind of XPS in supercalifragilisticexpialidocious which lead to Mary Popins. Popins was considered and then Popye and then Popye's friend Olive. We chose olive (39.3).
[olive]Olive will be used as a development machine for writing LATEX documents, compiling C and C++ programs, and interactively developing R and Python scripts for data science. It is also ultra portable and so when travelling and flying will be used for programming.
The ultra portable 13.3" comes in a compact form factor (reputably an 11" form factor) which was a concern on first sight as being too small if you are coming from a 14" laptop. But you will quickly adapt to the smaller size. Actually a compact size without compromising performance is quite a thing and the keyboard is just fine.
In terms of connectivity Dell have gone full monty with USB-C only. Certainly having 2 Thunderbolt connectors which suport power is great and the third with Powershare allows charging of other devices when the Laptop is powered down.
The tiny WebCam comes back to the top of the display rather than the previous model which recieved criticism for having a nose-cam with the camera at the bottom of the display.