Keyboard & Touchpad / Upgrade Options
Keyboard & Touchpad
The 14zís dimmable backlit keyboard uses a typical chiclet design and is bordered on either side by wide-spaced speaker grilles. The keys are well spaced with suitably large Enter and Shift buttons but like many other thin and light notebooks there is very little travel, diminishing the amount of feedback each keystroke gives. Nonetheless, typing for long periods of time didnít post any problems while we wrote this review and we actually found the experience quite comfortable.
There are a few small issues here but letís prefix this section by mentioning that each one of these items is very, very minor. First of all the compressed directional arrow keys take a bit of getting used to and we were constantly groping around for them when touch typing. In addition, the keyboard does have two settings of dimmable backlighting (which is certainly a welcome addition) but the difference between maximum and minimum output is next to nothing and there is a hesitation of several seconds before it responds to commands.
Dell has also used a magnesium alloy to coat the palm rest to increase durability and decrease unsightly oil stains from your hands. The repellant surface does get a bit slippery after extended use but that didnít overtly impact our typing speed.
The trackpad on this notebook is simply massive and its expansive area along with a slightly resistant surface really helps tactile feedback. Regardless of its size, the trackpad is well positioned so it doesnít pick up any inadvertent presses as your fingers fly across the keyboard. Its two physical buttons should also be taken as a lesson for all other manufacturers since they respond perfectly to input commands without requiring too much force.
Upgrade options on the XPS 14z are non-existent. Dell does claim that you can open the chassis to add an extra stick of memory (there arenít any slots available the 6GB configuration) but opening this thing up is impossible without wreaking havoc to its finish. Unfortunately, the battery isnít user upgradable either.
The lower portion of the 14z is a single piece of milled aluminum which is held in place with eight small screws. Youíll then need to wedge a small flat head screwdriver into the gap between the top and bottom panels while praying to every deity you know that nothing crack or bows. After a few minutes, we gave up since this is one notebook that is being sent back to Dell without any blemishes.
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