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Thursday
Apr072016

Review: Dell XPS 12 with 4K Ultra HD display

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Dell's answer to the Surface Pro is a more practical, affordable solution that sligthly more portable but which does not compromise in the display and power departments. This is a serious enterprise 2-in-1 worth considering

The new Dell XPS 12 is the company's take on the 2-in-1 PC market and competes directly with Microsoft's flagship Surface Book. Bringing the functionality of a powerful tablet that can easily be converted into an ultraportable notebooks designed for productivity in the enterprise.

Dell knows a thing or two about making well-built, innovative and enterprise-ready devices. The XPS 12 continues the focus on high quality devices that bring the latest consumer trends and put them to practice within the rigours of the enterprise.

Composed of a solid slab of tablet that gingerly locks into a magnetic keyboard, the XPS 12 weighs 2.8 lbs, this is the weight of some midrange Ultrabooks. While it feels heavier and more robust than your average Surface clone, the Dell XPS 12 really does have more in common with notebooks than flimsy cloth keyboard-toting convertibles.

While decidedly austere, the XPS 12's design and aesthetic is stark, angular and colourless. If you, like Batman, like your devices in light absorbing matte black, this is the 2-in-1 for you. The hallmark design features of the XPS line are clear and present here, the border-free display, the solid mix of tempered glass, metal sheathed in hard rubber and a keyboard that's unyielding yet responsive and you have a great notebook replacement that just happens to be a tablet.

Dell didn't futz around with kickstands or weird contorting mechanisms here. The XPS 12 is a tablet and it has a slightly magnetic keyboard which sits at an angle. It only works on one position, however, so take it or leave it.

The when both components are connected, XPS 12 completes the illusion that it is just another ultraportable notebook but trouble begins if you move it from the base because the magnets that guide it into place aren't strong enough to stop the tablet portion from tipping over.

Picking up the Dell XPS 12 from the screen end dislodges it completely from the keyboard portion. Maybe Dell could have gone just one step further to make the connection between keyboard and tablet much more secure.

The big attraction is the XPS 12's 4K display, it is the first one I have seen on a tablet of this size and it is jaw droppingly gorgeous. I seriously expected to see 4K to come to a tablet from Apple or Sony, but Dell's beaten everyone to the punch.

While its great to have 4K capability on a device of this size, there's still the question of finding the type of content that can take advantage of all those pixels. I doubt anyone will want to edit 4K video on a screen this size but the Dell can certainly do it.

The Dell XPS 12 is a forward thinking device for a number of reasons. It can be your only PC, notebook and tablet if you can subscribe the way each of these functions work. The availability of USB Type-C and dock accessories makes it eminently versatile. Attach an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer and you can be as productive as any desktop. 

With the keyboard accessory deployed, you can be as productive as any notebook provided you don't mind the fixed angle. I find the Dell XPS 12's keyboard a better option for typing than the Surface Pro, it may not be as portable or light as Microsoft's 2-in-1 but it does offer a better typing experience which makes it a better solution for users who input a lot of text.

Conclusion

Starting at $1,499.991, Dell's XPS 12 can be considered a premium and enterprise-facing device. The rubber and magnesium alloy construction is top-notch even if the styling is a bit austere and the fact that Dell includes the keyboard in the package shows that they understand their users are primarily content creators. 

The 4K Display is the showpiece here and might be the reason to consider this over other 2-in-1 devices, otherwise the clever design and connectivity options plus forward thinking use of ports are the key strengths of this unique tablet 2-in-1.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

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