Reviewing Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 : Hands on at CES with the shapeshifting PC marvel
The Dell XPS 13 was already an excellent laptop, one of the best Windows machines on the market. At CES 2017 the company unveiled a 2-in-1 touchscreen version in a stunningly small shell. Here’s our Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 hands on review.
DELL XPS 13 2-IN-1 REVIEW
Dell is no stranger to peaks and troughs when it comes to being in fashion. Luckily, it is a brand that is in the ascension once more, helped by a subtle rebranding and excellent products to match.
This rise has been greatly helped by the excellent XPS 13, one of the best if not the best Windows laptop in the world. At CES 2017, the company lifted the lid on an impressive update to the line in the XPS 13 2-in-1, a convertible touchscreen version. It continues to help Dell blur the lines of its target market,with tablet functionality and the option to use the Dell Active Pen. Here our hands on review of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.
DELL XPS 13 2-IN-1 REVIEW: UK PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Dell is good for customising your PC at point of purchases, so for improved processor power and additional RAM, expect to pay slightly more.The XPS 2-in-1 will be available late January the UK via Dell starting at £1,349.
DELL XPS 13 2-IN-1 REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD
The design is stunningly thin yet the right side of substantial, with metallic frame and plastic detailing in all the right places.The XPS 2-in-1 is simply one of those tech products that begs to be touched, mauled and used.
The 13.3in display is Dell’s InfinityEdge variety, which basically means incredibly thin bezels. It might take you a while to get used to not seeing thick black bezels surrounding the screen, but Dell has done it right. It claims the unit is actually when closed the size of an 11in laptop. This is a bit of a stretch but it’s certainly one of the most compact 13in models outs there, measuring 199 x 304 x 13.7mm.
The whole thing when closed has an elegant taper to it, with a professional blend of silver and black colours. The presence of the soft finish of the body when opened also helps to add to the premium look and feel of the laptop.The chassis also houses a micro SD slot, 2 USB-C ports that share charging, data transfer and display port duties, a lock slot and a headphone jack.
Unlike the new 13in MacBook Pro, the Dell keeps traditional scissor mechanism buttons on its full size keyboard. But you need not use the keyboard under some circumstances, with two hinges that allow you to spin the screen around and use the unit as a tablet. As the dimensions of the screen are laptop-size, you probably won’t find yourself using it portrait way up, but in landscape mode you can take advantage of the touchscreen and Dell Active Pen .
You may not use it as a full on tablet, but the fact the option is there along with pen input is all the more attractive when Dell has achieved it without compromising the usability of the device as a traditional laptop.
DELL XPS 13 2-IN-1 REVIEW: FEATURES AND SPECS
As mentioned, Dell’s laptops are extremely flexible when it comes to specs and customisation, but the base, cheapest model of the XPS 13 2-in-1 ships with a 7th gen Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB solid state storage. It’s good to see the latest gen of Intel’s chips inside, but remember these are the low-voltage versions that mean the XPS runs silently and without a fan.
This can be upgraded up to Core i7, 16GB RAM and 256GB storage if required, but all models have the same excellent Full HD display that packs incredible detail into the 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Also on board is an Intel HD graphics card, a widescreen HD (720p) webcam with dual mics, 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi connectivity and powerful stereo speakers. There are in fact two cameras that sit oddly at the base of the screen (due to the InfinityEdge display) that are Windows Hello-ready (the tech that allows for retinal security identification).
Bar the still debatably annoying lack of a USB-A port or full size SD slot, this laptop won’t disappoint with the functionality on show compared with other barer ultrabooks on the market.
Dell claims the XPS 13 2-in-1 can run for 15 hours on a charge, which if true is impressive. We’ll have to get our hands on a unit for a full review to make sure.
DELL XPS 13 2-IN-1 REVIEW: SOFTWARE
The XPS 13 2-in-1 will ship with Windows 10 Home, and this is an operating system that works pretty well in tablet mode but is exceptional in laptop mode. Windows has refined it in the latest Anniversary Update. Paired with the XPS 13 2-in-1, we found it to be an easy match for the MacBook/macOS Sierra combination as well as any other PC out there running Windows 10.
Here’s our review of Windows 10.
With Windows Ink, you can use the Active Pen to take notes, annotate documents and explore the newer creative features of Windows 10. We must admit that if you are keen to fully embrace digital note taking or illustration then this isn’t the machine for you (try the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or the Lenovo Miix 720)
but the ability to be able to use those functions while still investing in a fully-fledged laptop will make the XPS a tempting choice for some.
The Dell XPS 13 was already excellent, and it’s a smart move from Dell to release this hybrid edition without compromising the design and functionality of the original vision. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is an ultrabook powerhouse and will likely fit in to any home or work environment better than many other laptops out there. The thin bezels, excellent keyboard and thoughtful design are marred only by a high asking price. Then again, this is the future.