Dell XPS 13 review (2021): OLED stands out

Put any OLED screen next to any non-OLED screen and what you are will Colors notice. Whether it’s TVs, phones or now laptops, OLED colors are jumping off the screen; They are more vibrant, more saturated, and more realistic thanks to the darker black.

So what is OLED and why should you care? Well, O is organic (LEDs are still photodiodes). This is organic as in chemistry, not as organic as the pesticide-free banana you paid too much for at the supermarket. Light is emitted by organic molecules, in most cases rings of carbon atoms.

In a traditional display there is a backlight, and its light is emitted by a layer of elements (which varies by display type) which then show what color the pixel is supposed to show at any given moment. In an OLED display, each diode acts as its own backlight. No backlight always on and drains battery power. This is why black looks so good on an OLED screen; It is really the absence of light, not something that covers the light that is still shining.

I know what you’re thinking. If there is no backlight, why is the battery life reduced? Shouldn’t OLED use less power? Well, when the screen is fully lit – let’s say by a mostly white web page – it looks like the OLED screen uses more power. The answer, or the answer, is dark mode. All OLED laptops I’ve tested with Windows have arrived in dark mode, which helps a bit. (I turned it off and things got worse.) But if you mainly use the web, which consists mostly of white pages, OLED screens will likely tax your battery more.

You have changed your browser of choice, Vivaldi, to dark mode, changed the themes on Slack, Gmail, and some other websites I use regularly, and I found them useful. But the web is overwhelmingly shining. For now, that will mean more OLED battery life.

Deserves all the effort?

The big question then is whether an OLED display is worthwhile. It depends. If you want better battery life, stick with the 2021 XPS Full HD models. You’ll also get more customization when choosing RAM, storage, and processors.

With OLED, you’re forced to get a Core i7 model, 16 or 32GB of RAM, and Iris Xe graphics, which is overkill for most people, not to mention the high $1,600 price tag. On the other hand, going back to my 4K screen after an OLED is, well, a little faded and washed out. I think I can live with a shorter battery life.

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