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Dell XPS 12 (2013) 12.5-inch Convertible Ultrabook Review

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Dell XPS 12

Dell XPS 12

©Dell
Dell XPS 12 Screen Flipping to Tablet Mode

Dell XPS 12 Screen Flipping to Tablet Mode

©Dell

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The Bottom Line

Oct 25 2013 - Dell's 2013 edition may not seemed to have changed much on the outside but the new processor combined with an improved battery give this system some outstanding running times. Unfortunately, it still does not have any media card slots for use with flash memory and it stll is a bit heavy even though they did drop the weight slightly from the original model. Even with these minor flaws, the Dell XPS 12 remains one of the better convertibles on the market.

Pros

  • Exceptional Battery Life
  • Nice Hybrid Design
  • Good Performance

Cons

  • No Memory Card Slots
  • Still A Bit Heavy As A Tablet

Description

  • Intel Core i5-4200U Dual Core Mobile Processor
  • 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • 128GB Solid State Drive
  • 12.5" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400 Integrated Graphics
  • 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Two USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort
  • 12.5" x 8.5" x .8" @ 3.2 lbs.
  • Windows 8

Review - 2013 Dell XPS 12

Oct 25 2013 - Dell's 2013 edition of the XPS 12 doesn't really change the design from the initial XPS 12 release. It still sues the same flip screen design to convert from a laptop to a tablet system with its aluminum and carbon fiber frame. The dimensions are all the same but they did manage to make it slightly lighter at 3.2 pounds which is still on the heavy side when compared to 11-inch convertible laptop and on par with the slightly larger 13-inch convertibles. While the exterior is very different, the internals have been upgraded.

The biggest change is with the introduction of the new 4th generation Intel Core i processors. For the entry level XPS 12, this is the Intel Core i5-4200U dual core processor. This gives it essentially the same rough performance as the previous Core i5-3317U based version last year which should be enough for most users. Why the change then? The new processor offers much greater power efficiency which should translate into longer running times. It is disappointing that it still ships with just 4GB of memory when more systems in this price range are moving to 8GB.

Storage remains unchanged with the 2013 version of the XPS 12 coming with a 128GB solid state drive standard. Performance has improved a bit with boot times now coming in right at ten seconds compared to the thirteen before and applications and data loads very quickly. The only real downside is that this is a fairly limited amount of space such that anyone carry around a lot of high definition media or programs can quickly fill up. There are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage but unlike most of its competitors, there still is no flash memory card slots. As with most thinner and smaller systems, there is no DVD drive.

As mentioned earlier, the 12.5-inch display picots within a metal frame to allow one to switch the XPS 12 from its laptop to tablet mode and back. For the most part, this works real well thanks to the magnets that hold it in place but there may be some slight ambient light leakage around the display and frame and it can make opening it from the close position a bit tricky at times. The 1920x1080 resolution display offers a very sharp and crisp image with good color and brightness. The only complaint is some contrast drop when viewing off angle to the left or right. The integrated graphics got a slight boost with the new Core i5 processor from the previous Intel HD Graphics 4000 to the 4400. This still lacks much 3D performance other than for gaming at lower resolutions and detail levels but it does offer some nice media encoding performance with Quick Sync applications.

The keyboard and trackpad remain unchanged from the past design with its isolated layout and concave keys that provide an accurate and comfortable experience. The trackpad has improved a bit with some better multitouch gesture support but that is less an issue when the system also has a multitouch display panel.

The battery received a slight upgrade from the 47WHr capacity in the original version to 50WHr in the new 2013 model. This combined with the new power efficient processor should help give it longer running times. In digital video playback testing, the system was able to achieve and impressive nine hours which is a jump of three and a half hours over the original version all while having the same rough performance. This is quite impressive and should provide near all day computing for many people but it still falls short of the over ten hours that the non-touchscreen Apple MacBook Air 13 achieves.

Pricing for the 2013 version of the XPS 12 comes it at $1199 for the configuration reviewed. There are a number of competitors in this segment but the sizing puts it somewhere between the 11-inch and 13-inch laptops. Lenovo offers both the Yoga 13 and Yoga 11s which are priced under $1000 with their fold back screens. They offer similar performance but less battery life and lower resolution screens. The Sony VAIO Duo is smaller and lighter but is priced a bit higher and has a sliding screen system that is a bit different and not as elegant to use in its laptop form. HP's EliteBook Revolve 810 G1 offers a much more durable design but is far more expensive and with much less battery life and screen resolution.

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