I had a chance to test out Dell’s XPS12 Ultrabook convertible. After using it for about a week now, I am overall impressed. I don’t think that my current 10” HP laptop will be used for a while. For a laptop, the Dell XPS12 is the perfect size, and perfect weight. For a tablet, it’s just too heavy.
Design & Usability
I am not a tablet user, in fact, I’ve only used an iPad once or twice, and I have only played around with Android tablets while at the shops. My reason for not buying a tablet is that I have a perfectly good 10” HP netbook running Windows 7 that I can do almost anything on. I can check my emails, surf the internet, play games, browse Facebook, type essay’s, and install most programs that my desktop PC runs. It’s small, lightweight and can boot from hibernation in 10 seconds. With a tablet, the lack of a physical keyboard can make it a timewaster when writing long emails and you are limited to certain apps and not the full range of software currently available on Windows.
What I like about the he Dell XPS Ultrabook convertible is that it gives you the best of both worlds – a tablet and a laptop all in one, and powered by Windows. (By the way, I am not an Apple fan). I now have a tablet that I can use in the same way as I use Windows 7 (minus the start menu).
For a laptop of 12.5”, it is reasonably light and allows you to be somewhat productive with your screen real estate, compared to using a 10” screen. If using it as a laptop does not tickle your fancy, within a few seconds you can be walking around using a tablet device.
The Dell XPS12 has a sleek design, and feels incredible solid thanks to the carbon fibre casing and machined aluminium edges. However, as a tablet, it is not as easy to hold compared to something such as the iPad. The XPS12 is heavier, bulker, and can be somewhat awkward to hold and work on.
If you are considering the XPS12, you really need to be in the mindset of “I need a laptop, which also has the bonus of being a tablet in a few seconds”. With this mindset, you will be less likely to be disappointed with your purchase.
After using the XPS12 for a few days, I did have some minor annoyances:
The Ultrabook is top heavy
When in laptop mode, I’ve found myself using the touch screen more as it is quicker to select items on the screen compared to using the mouse pad. However, when you select items from the top of the screen, the base on the laptop lifts, which can be a little off-putting.
An excited mouse when right clicking
Don’t bother right clicking where my finger is, because you won’t be able to click on what you want, the mouse jumps around. This can be somewhat annoying until you get into a habit of ensuring you right click near the centre-line.
Because the screen swivels on two pins, if you are using your the XPS12 with a bright background, the gap between the screen and the aluminium edge can be somewhat distracting.
There needs to be a stand
I would love to use the Dell XPS12 has a tablet more often because of Windows8 and the great touch support. However, it’s awkward to use on a desk. It’s too heavy to hold with one hand and type, or you’ll get a sore neck from looking over it because it is flat on the table. If it came with a flip stand like Microsoft Surface, the tablet usability will be so much better.
A few things I do like about the Dell XPS12 is how the screen swivels. It feels quite solid and built to quality, and clicks into place nicely. (Once you get a hold of the XPS12, you will spend at least 5 minutes just by swivelling the screen.)
The backlit keyboard is very nice to type on, however, depending on where you are sitting, you can see the lights from underneath, and around the keys, which I don’t like.
While in tablet mode, you have your standard “home” button that switches from the start screen to your last running application. The screen rotates in all directions depending how you hold it, and there is an auto-rotate button to stop the auto-rotation. Next to it, you have a headphone jack and the power button, as well as volumes controls. On the other side, you have your HDMI video port, two USB slots and a power meter button showing how full your battery is.
Price & Where to Buy
The model that I am reviewing comes at a price tag of $1499AUD. This is packed with an Intel Core i5-3317U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.6 GHz, TPM), Windows8 64-bit, 4GB Dual channelDDR3 RAM and a 128GB SSD. A 12.5 inch LED Backlit Touch Display with True Life and FHD resolution (1920 x 1080) powered by an Intel HD Graphics 4000 video card.
After you get used to Windows8 and learning all the keyboard shortcuts and swipe gestures, the Dell XPS is a good device. I think it’s perfect for students taking notes, and with the touch ability, writing maths equations will be simple.
If you are looking for a tablet, this is not for you. If you are looking for a laptop with a tablet option (as I was) with Windows, the XPS12 is a great device. Having used Windows7 on a touch screen tablet and the XPS12 with Windows8, I prefer Windows8.
While I was reviewing this, I had to keep stealing it back off my mum, she loved using it, and I cannot blame her. It was perfect sitting on my laptop while watching the Australian Open and getting the live statistics updates.
Disclaimer: Dell provided me with the XPS12 Ultrabook convertible (to keep) and to know my opinions.