Hitting the sweetspot between portability and useful screen estate, this XPS Studio houses a 13in 16:10 widescreen, regrettably of highly reflective sheen, with a glass front that stretches from screen edge to screen edge. It's a white LED-backlit panel, which provides purer colours, although backlighting was not absolutely even on our sample.

A 1.3Mp webcam is inset into the bezel top, bracketed by a pair of built-in microphones for online conferencing.

At 2.2kg it's not the lightest 13in laptop you'll find but it does feel remarkably solid and robust. In design terms alone, given the quality of build and the feeling of integrity of the whole notebook, Dell could be on to a winner here. And we haven't even explored the component specification yet.

At the heart pf the Dell Studio XPS 13 is a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running high-speed DDR3 RAM: 4GB of it. The 128GB SSD storage may be limited in hard disk terms, but anything over 100GB is more than enough space to install every app you'd need and leave room for personal files. If you want to expand the storage capabilities with an external drive, you really are spoilt for choice.

There are two USB 2.0 ports of the Dell Studio XPS 13, one on each side, with the right-hand one doubling as a powered eSATA port, allowing connections to a hard disk drive fast enough to compete with internal SATA storage. On the same side is a mini FireWire 400 port, just below an ExpressCard/54 slot.

Wireless connectivity of the Dell Studio XPS 13 is threefold. There's a dual-band 802.11 wireless adaptor capable of 5GHz 802.11a/n operation as well as the usual 2.4GHz 802.11b/g. Bluetooth is included, and for roaming broadband, a slot in the battery bay takes a SIM card to activate the on-board 3G wireless modem.