Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F full review

Although we've seen the Dell XPS 15 L502X before the P11F is a slightly different ?laptop that comes with a touchscreen. As an entertainment-focused laptop the touchscreen offers a different way to watch DVDs, for example, letting you select options on-screen rather than use the touchpad, making the experience ever-so-slightly easier. However, when navigating around Windows it really isn't much of an advantage.

Although Windows 7 was designed to support touchscreens, there are still too many fiddly menus to navigate, and pressing the screen of a laptop feels slightly odd in comparison to pressing the screen of a handheld device. It takes some getting used to, but ultimately you'll still probably find yourself using the physical keyboard and touchpad for most tasks. Bear in mind, though, that Windows 8 will be much more touch-friendly and is likely to be released in around a year's time. So if you're prepared to wait and make the upgrade to the next-generation of Windows when it comes the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F could come into its own.

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For now, though, the touchscreen on the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F seems to be little more than a gimmick. There's no stylus provided, meaning you'll be using your fingers, and the screen's glossy finish shows up greasy fingerprints a treat. It's also a pain to use in bright conditions, the reflective finish meaning that you need to be careful where you place the laptop in relation to any light sources.

If you want to watch movies on your laptop the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F is a pretty good choice, although far from perfect. The screen doesn't support full HD (though you will find variations of this model available with a resolution of 1920x1080, albeit without touchscreen functionality) and the standard optical drive doesn't read Blu-ray Discs, but again you can pay extra for this feature should you want it. It's the audio quality, provided by the JDL speaker system, that really make the entertainment experience – you won't need to worry about rigging the Dell up to external speakers in order to get high quality surround sound.

Gaming, too, is well catered for – the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F managed minimum frame rates of 31fps in the FEAR graphics test on maximum settings, suggesting that you'll be able to run most games without too much trouble. The 1GB GeForce 525M graphics card seems to be a strong performer, and you do have the option to upgrade this component too.

Overall performance is good, though not outstanding, a WorldBench 6 score of 117 indicative of a system that will deal with everyday tasks easily, though might lack the grunt to deal with high-end applications. The battery life was short of five hours, which is slightly disappointing and could prove problematic if you can't access the mains for any period of time. At just under 2.8kg it's too heavy to carry around for long periods.  

There's 4GB of RAM, expandable to 8GB should you want, and the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F's hard disk will provide you with 500GB of storage. The high-speed USB 3.0 interface is catered for, there's HDMI (though no VGA) and a mini DisplayPort too. You'll also find a combo USB 2.0 and eSATA port.

The design of the Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F is fairly smart, though suggests an entertainment-focused laptop rather than an office worker's tool, and it feels fairly sturdy too. The keyboard is slightly odd, with a wide but short Return key and a Caps Lock key that is far too big and easy to accidentally hit when you're gunning for the A. The touchpad is nice and big, and very easy to use, which only adds to our doubts about the usefulness of a touchscreen.


Dell XPS 15 L502X P11F: Specs

  • 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor
  • 3MB level 3 cache
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1333MHz RAM
  • 500GB SATA 3Gbps 5,400rpm hard disk
  • 15.6in (1366x768) glossy LED backlit touchscreen
  • 1GB nVidia GeForce GT 525M graphics
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 2xUSB 3.0 port
  • 1xeSATA/USB 2.0 port
  • DVD±RW drive
  • SDXC/MMC/MS Pro card slot
  • 2xheadphone jack
  • mic input
  • stereo speakers
  • HDMI port
  • mini DisplayPort
  • removable 56Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 381x266x57mm
  • 2.78kg