DELL XPS 12 - Tablet Review

DELL XPS 12 - Tablet Review

LIKE THE YOGA 13, Dell’s XPS 12 is an Ultrabook convertible, but it moves from clamshell device to tablet in an entirely different way. Push in on the lower back of the screen with both hands and it rotates in its frame to face backward - then just close the lid and you have a tablet. We like how this design hides the keyboard from sight, and feel, but we can’t help but wonder how the rotating screen and thin metal frame will fare over time and with regular use. Dell says it’s been tested to 20,000 cycles.

With its 12.5-inch screen, the XPS 12 is a bit smaller than Lenovo’s Yoga 13, but it weighs the same three pounds, 6.5 ounces (without its power brick) as its peer, which again, makes it a more sedentary type of tablet. We’re not saying you can’t benefi t from being able to fold up this Ultrabook, rest it atop your lap, and surf the web from your couch while you watch TV, tablet style. We’re just pointing out that it’s larger and more unwieldy than even a 10-inch iPad.

Size issues aside, the XPS 12’s 1920x1080 IPS screen is crisp and bright and its edge to edge Gorilla Glass coating should make it plenty durable. Capacitive sensors enable prompt response to all the various touches and swipes in Windows 8, even in desktop mode. Dell was kind enough to include a “Getting Started with Windows 8” app in the Modern UI, which explains how to navigate the OS - a feature that’s sorely lacking from Windows 8 itself. Like the Yoga 13, the XPS 12’s touchpad also supports Win8 gestures, so you can, say, swipe in from the right of the pad to expose the Charms bar, or swipe in from the left of the pad to switch programs. This worked most of the time, although not quite as reliably as with the Yoga. The physical keyboard is suitable for productivity, with nicely sized and spaced keys and a pleasant rubberized palm rest. It’s also backlit with blue LEDs.

The XPS 12 starts at $1,200 for a config similar to the Yoga 13. But Dell sent us its most fully loaded model, which costs quite a bit more at $1,700. It consists of a 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U, 8GB of DDR3/1600 RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It’s a pretty similar build to our zero point Ultrabook and the two machines traded modest wins in all of our benchmarks.

While the XPS12 is handsome and has admirable parts, it strikes us as falling shy of the mark by being too cumbersome to fully satisfy as a tablet and too pricey to fully satisfy as an Ultrabook.

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