Dell XPS 12 review

Dell XPS 12 review

T3 4
  • The Dell XPS 12 is a hybrid device blending the boundary between tablets and PCs. But does this Windows 8-toting device deliver?

    Dell XPS 12 review

    Love

    • Great keyboard
    • Impressive screen
    • Very powerful

    Hate

    • Pure weight
    • Chunky power supply

    It's no secret that Windows 8 hasn't been the desperate boost that PC sales need - in fact, Windows 8 hasn't halted the decline of laptop sales against the furious rise of tablets.

    Dell has long been intent on combining the two and the Dell XPS 12 (also known as the Dell XPS Duo 12) has a screen that flips 180 degrees to act as a hefty Windows 8 tablet with a 12-inch screen.

    The biggest rival, over a traditional laptop and tablet, is the £699 Lenovo Yoga ultrabook, which features a screen that bends back through 360 degrees rather than the 'spinning within a frame' design of the Dell XPS 12.

    Dell XPS 12: Size and build

    Dell rarely puts a foot wrong with stylish yet sensible build, designed for business and serious home use. Despite the tablet credentials, the Dell XPS 12 is definitely a machine for the home - it weighs over 3lbs which is a barrier that few ultrabooks cross, even if they have larger screens than the 12-inch display here.

    There's a lot inside, however, so more on that later. The weight also explains the rugged feel - against Asus and Acer rivals, there's no flimsy compromise anywhere on the body - it feels like a desktop computer compared to a laptop. The keyboard and trackpad are both soft, responsive and very quiet - as perfect a typing system as we've seen on a PC laptop.

    Dell XPS 12: Features

    There's a hefty spec from the start on the high-end model - an i7 processor meets 8GB of RAM and a 256 SSD drive. The £979 entry level model downgrades to an i5 process, 4GB RAM and 128 SSD so it's worth the extra cash for the SSD upgrade alone.

    There's a headphone socket, Bluebooth 4.0 and two USB ports but no HDMI out however, which seems a bit 2008 for a modern laptop that is designed for serious business and home office use. There's no optical drive for DVDs or Blu-ray discs.

    Dell XPS 12: Screen

    The 12.5-inch Gorilla Glass True Life WLED display is impressive and sharp and, crucially, touchscreen commands work well and the screen is responsive in PC and tablet mode. The screen may look fragile when flipped but it's a solid frame and is secure once wedged into tablet or PC formation.

    Dell XPS 12: Performance

    An i7 process and 8GB of RAM means that this is a serious laptop offering MacBook Pro levels of performance especially when paired with 256GB of SSD storage.

    Windows 8 may still be a confusing operating system but tasks from video editing to managing DSLR photo edits fly - it really is a machine that will replace your desktop without showing signs of stress.

    The tablet mode performance is acceptable but the weight demands that it be placed on a surface, which kind of negates the free roaming joy of a tablet. It's a nice option to have but we feel the hybrid format is a marketing message rather than a consumer need at the moment.

    Overall, the speed of the machine combined with the excellent keyboard mean that browsing and editing documents is easy. As a PC, it's one of our favourite desktop contenders - the power supply and bulk really means it's a pain to travel with.

    Dell XPS 12: Battery

     

    A 6 cell lithium ion battery does a good job in keeping the powerhouse going for almost five hours of heavy use which isn't bad given the screen size and power of the XPS 12. It can't quite match a similarly priced MacBook Pro but it does beat many rivals by at least an hour by our reckoning.

    Dell XPS 12: Verdict

    The Dell XPS 12 is an excellent PC rather than a laptop - used as your main home system, it's portable, quiet and feels like a luxury experience thanks to a great display and highly usable keyboard and responsive touchscreen.

    The tablet mode works but it's one of the heaviest tablets in the world so only suitable for sofa or desk use. Even without the tablet skill set, it's an admirable and powerful machine tied to the home.

    Dell XPS 12: price: Out now

    Dell XPS 12: price: £1279

  • The Dell XPS Duo 12 PC-tablet hybrid comes equipped with the Windows 8 OS, a pin-sharp screen and plenty of internal storage

    Dell XPS 12 review

    Love

    • Great keyboard
    • Impressive screen
    • Very powerful

    Hate

    • Pure weight
    • Chunky power supply

    The arrival of Windows 8 tablets sees Dell dive in headfirst but cautiously retains a keyboard in a novel PC with a tablet screen that flips - is this the definitive PC tablet hybrid?

    The Microsoft Surface and Asus Transformer Prime are tablets with keyboards but the Dell XPS Duo 12 is a PC with a tablet screen.

    What’s the difference? Power, lots of it - the Dell XPS Duo 12 comes in i5 or i7 flavours making it one of the most powerful ‘tablets’ around.

    Dell XPS Duo 12: Build

    Dell is known for rugged products at all price levels and the XPS Duo 12 is no different - soft touch plastic, chrome surround and a luxury cover all contribute to a premium feel.

    The twisting tablet screen pivots smoothly on the frame - there’s a little gap around the screen and the frame which supports it but it doesn’t detract from the smooth action.

    With the screen rotated 180 degrees so that he keyboard disappears and the XPS Duo 12 becomes a fully fledged tablet, it’s thick and heavy compared to an iPad.

    It’s not designed as a coffee table content browsing machine, however. Dell say the tablet skills are designed for people on-the-go and the porable size and backlit keyboard is ideal for plane and train travel.

    Curiously, the keyboard uses a sleek, futuristic font rather than the generic Dell styling that we’re used to.

     

    Dell XPS Duo 12: Features

    The top-end i7 XPS Duo 12 flies along at a great pace and gives the MacBook Air something to worry about. Dell are cagey about RAM options and price but there’s a giant 256GB of SSD memory under the hood.

    Elsewhere, expect a similar level of spec to the existing XPS 13 and a premium price tag to match. Twin USBs are on the minimal side but average for this level of laptop.

    Dell XPS Duo 12: Screen

    A Full HD 10 inch display - a real USP for such a small machine. The screen is responsive but we found fingerprints annoying when flipping back to PC mode.

    Gorilla glass adds to the feeling of class and ensures heavy pressure when closed won’t leave keyboard imprints on the screen or ultra thin bezel.

    Strangely, the screen doesn’t balance when rotated - it will always drop to the default ‘PC’ position when your hands leave it.

    Dell XPS Duo 12: Performance

    The transition from tablet to PC takes seconds and the i7 version combined with a Full HD screen is a great combination.

    The XPS Duo 12 is clearly aiming itself at the MacBook Air and the touchpad and screen are on a par with the Apple ultrabook before the added bells and whistles of Windows 8 touchscreen features are taken into account.

    Dell XPS Duo 12: Verdict

    It’s rare for Dell to be so experimental after the Dell Streak and the combo shows a company unwilling to jump from a core PC laptop business in case the whole Windows 8 tablet thing doesn’t work out.

    That said, it’s a brilliant, portable laptop which is ideal for travel. We think the tablet mode is useful but may be too heavy for some.

    As a PC to make people look and stare, it does the job perfectly and we can see business travellers watching films in the tablet mode and then using the PC mode for work.

    Ultimately, it’s the price tag that will be the decider. If a MacBook Air and new iPad is cheaper than this all-in-one, the case for the XPS Duo 12 may have a problem.

    And that’s before the Microsoft Surface makes a play for a share of the Windows 8 tablet market...

    Words:Richard Melville

    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell-XPS-12-lead-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell-XPS-12-2-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell-XPS-12-1-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell-XPS-12-3-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell-XPS-12-4-624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell12Duo_lead_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell12Duo_1_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell12Duo_2_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/de/xs_Dell12Duo_3_624.jpg

Best Tablets

Apple iPad 4th generation
Best Tablets

Browse our best tablets list to discover the ultimate slate

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now