Dell's XPS and Studio laptop series were initially marketed as high-end performance and stylish consumer laptops respectively. It has now combined the two into the Studio XPS range, and the Studio XPS 13 is its first compact and powerful portable.

Glossy black plastics and genuine leather accents create a high-quality feel, but the plastics quickly show scratches and fingerprints. The 2.2kg chassis is almost ultraportable and perfect for regular travel. This is aided by a fantastic 277-minute battery life.

The keyboard is solidly constructed and very comfortable to use. It is also backlit for easy usability in low light conditions. It's positioned near the front of the chassis, however, meaning larger hands hang over the front of the laptop when typing, so aim to try it out before you buy.

The 13.3-inch screen is entirely encased beneath a thin layer of plastic, which sits completely flat with the bezel. The glossy layer creates bright and sharp images, ideal for editing photos and watching movies, but is extremely reflective, so can be awkward to use in bright conditions.

Graphics performance is impressive for such a compact laptop. Its integrated Nvidia GPU is the same solution found in Apple's MacBook, and is the first integrated chip we've seen to offer comparable performance to a dedicated GPU. You can even play less resource-heavy games.

Dual-core power

The Intel 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor is optimised for high performance and performance is indeed excellent. The 2048MB of high-speed DDR3 memory makes it easy to multi-task high-powered office and multimedia applications.

The 250GB hard drive provides comprehensive storage for such a small laptop. The disk spins at 7200rpm – the fastest rotational speed for a laptop drive – which is particularly rare for a laptop this size. As a result, data can be saved and accessed quickly and smoothly.

A slot-loading DVD rewriter is fitted on the right-hand side of the chassis for playback of CD and DVDs and also for creating your own discs. Access to flash storage cards is also provided by the included 3-in-1 card reader.

The included HDMI-out port lets you connect to an HDTV for full high-definition (HD) playback. Dell also includes a fantastic on-site warranty, so in the event of a fault during the first year, all repairs can be carried out in the comfort of your home.

By packing impressive performance and mobility into a small and affordable laptop, the Studio XPS 13 is a great addition to Dell's range. The leather features may not suit all tastes, but this is still a great laptop for the power-hungry traveller.