The Bottom Line
Jul 5 2013 - For those that want a system that can act as a desktop or be moved around the house for entertainment and utility, the Dell XPS 18 offers a very compact package that makes for an easy time moving it around a home although its still a bit large to take on the road compared to a tablet or laptop. It even offers a very reasonable amount of running time when not plugged into the wall power. The downside to this is that it offers the same rough level of performance as your standard ultrabook laptop which is well below your average desktop.
- Compact Size And Light Weight
- Good Battery Life
- Excellent Audio For Size
- Performance Is Less Than Standard Desktop Class All-In-Ones
- Built-In Plastic Legs Could Be Sturdier
- Optional Stand Does Not Add Any Additional Ports
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive With 32GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 18.4" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With Intel HD Graphics 4000
- Intel HD Audio With Sterep Speakers
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, 8-in-1 Card Reader, 720p Webcam
- 18.3" x 11.2" x .7"
- Windows 8
Review - Dell XPS 18 Portable
Jul 5 2013 - Dell's XPS 18 Portable is essentially a hybrid all-in-one desktop computer system. The primary system is the display panel that is really just a large 18-inch tablet. While it is certainly quite large, it is relatively thin as many smaller tablet systems and a weight over just over five pounds. This makes it much more portable than the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon with its large 27-inch display and the Sony VAIO Tap 20 with its thicker profile and double the weight. Now the system typically comes with just the display, AC adapter, wireless keyboard and mouse. The system stands upright as a desktop display when two legs fold out of the rear. For an extra $99, there is a raised stand with a lip that also hides a dock adapter that is used for powering and charging the system but it does not add any extra ports.
In order to allow for the system to run away from the wall outlet, it was necessary to use low power mobile parts. Specifically, Dell elected to use the Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor that is typical of many ultrabooks. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory which provides a smooth overall experience with Windows 8. Now this is much slower than a traditional all-in-one desktop system but it still provides sufficient performance for the average user that mainly uses their computer for email, browsing the web, streaming media and productivity software.
Continuing its similarity to utlrabooks, the Dell XPS 18 Portable uses a 500GB laptop class hard drive to provide storage for applications, data and media files. Normally this provides mediocre performance from the system but the version as tested also features a 32GB solid state drive that acts as a cache for the primary hard drive. This improves the speed of booting up the system as well as loading frequently used applications. This gives it a respectable twenty second boot time which falls short of dedicated SSDs but much faster than a straight hard drive. If you do require additional storage space, there are two USB 3.0 ports that are on the left hand side of the typical upright display mode. There is no optical drive which is becoming more common now.
With an 18.4-inch display, the Dell XPS 18 is rather on the small side for an all-in-one system. Most ship with 20 or 24-inch size screens but the smaller screen dimensions help with the portability. The screen itself features the same 1920x1080 resolution that most desktop systems have now and it is fully multitouch which is pretty much a requirement from when it is removed from its desktop environment. The brightness and color from the screen are quite good as are the viewing angles. The only downside is that it does feature a glass coating which makes glare an issue especially if you don't have the ability to adjust the angle from its limited positioning from the feet or the stand. The graphics for the system are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the Core i5 processor. This is fine for most basic tasks but it still provides a limited 3D experience such that it isn't suited for traditional 3D PC gaming and is best suited only for accelerating video encoding with Quick Sync enabled applications.
Since the Dell XPS 18 Portable is design to be taken around and away from the power supply, it features a battery within the chassis to function without the power cord. Dell rates the internal battery with a 69WHr capacity battery which is a decent size for an ultrabook but this does have to contend with a larger display. In digital video playback testing, this resulted in just over four and a half hours before going into standby mode. Now this is well below what a tablet would achieve and still below a standard ultrabook but it is quite good considering the size of the display. It is certainly much longer than the 27-inch Lenovo such that it can be used for extended media watching.
Pricing for the Dell XPS 18 Portable as tested comes in at $1350. This puts it above the Sony VAIO Tap 20 at roughly $1200 and the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon at $1600. It is on the high side for an all-in-one system especially given its size where 20-inch touchscreen based all-in-ones typically cost around $1000. The flexibility of being able to move the tablet is key to its price though. Both Sony and Lenovo have a harder time being moved because of their larger size and in particular weight. The primary benefit they offer though is larger overall storage and a bit more flexibility as a desktop system.