Dell XPS 12 (2015) Review
When I see the letters XPS linked to a Dell device, powerful, premium notebook computers come to mind. Well now you can add a new 2 in 1 tablet replacing the original XPS 12 convertible in Dell’s lineup.
Out of the box the new XPS 12 is an impressive looking device that fells really solid and well built. The 12.5″ tablet come with an impressive 1080 HD screen and if you want to spend the money…and battery life…a spectacular 4K screen. Pair that with a really good keyboard and you have quite a device.
Let’s start with the tablet. My trial unit came with the 12.5-inch 1920×1080 IPS screen is truly impressive. Bright and sharp and a 10 point touch surface to boot.
It is just as impressive under the hood. There’s a Skylake Intel Core m5-6Y54 with 8GB of fast memory. Storage options include your choice of a 128GB or 256GB SATA SSD.
Now some will criticize the choice of the m5 processor as underkill. Sure it is not is fast as say an i5 but it sips electricity and requires no fan. I found it more than powerful enough for the kind of work you should expect to do with a ultraportable device like this. Try to play complicated 3D game, render a 4K video or sort a 10,000 cell spreadsheet and you will be disappointed. Using it for the usual on the road things, surfing, email and wordprocessing or other light duties and you will love this svelte 0.31 inch thick 11.46 inches tall and 7.6 inches wide 1.75 pound device that is a full blown Windows 10 computer.
The tablet also has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5MP front-facing camera not that I can ever get used to taking pictures with a tablet..but many do. the rear facing camera takes decent but not outstanding pictures in good light and the front facing one is great for video calls. It features two USC Type C/ Thunderbolt 3 ports, so you can easily charge the XPS 12 while still using it with a connected peripheral or while charging another device. The USB-C ports will require an adapter for some of your existing accessories but boost in transfer speed is a worthwhile benefit.
Now for the 2 in the 2 in 1..there’s the XPS 12 Premier Keyboard with Dell Premier Magnetic Folio – For what Dell describes as a traditional keyboard experience with full 1.9mm travel. My take is that it is one of the best laptop keyboards I have used and certainly way better than anything I have seen for a tablet. The keys are a good size with nice feel and travel and the bigger than expected touchpad is nice to use. Dell seems to be the only producer of Windows computers to have figured out how to make a useable touchpad. The whole thing adds about a pound to the weight. The tablet and keyboard are held together with powerful magnets.
If you want something a bit lighter there is also the XPS Slim 12 Keyboard – Slim design with 1.3mm travel and adjustable viewing angles up to 150 degrees accomplished by a sort of kickstand on the back. Still a pretty impressive keyboard with the same great touchpad. Again it’s all held together by magnets.
The keyboards are excellent or really good to type on depending on which you choose but they both have a serious shortcoming. I wasn’t comfortable with either on my lap. Both felt unstable and a wrong move would have me grabbing at the various parts before they ended up on the floor. Both are really comfortable to use on a desk, table or airline/train chair table and I found the fixed angle on the Premier keyboard fine for me…your mileage may differ.
The XPS 12 supports Dell’s Active Pen which connects via Bluetooth and features 2,048 levels of sensitivity. There two buttons on the barrel for erasing and selecting objects and third on top for opening OneNote. In OneNote, it felt very comfortable to use and had a nice writing on paper feel to it. Now, I have absolutely no artistic talent but I see how someone with talent could take advantage of the sensitivity.
Overall this is a very nice 2 in 1 device that could tempt you as a replacement for your notebook. A well designed tablet teamed up with a choice of the two best keyboards I have seen on this class of device. My only caveat is the lack of stability using it on my lap but, if it is to used on a desk, table or chair table then I think it is the best choice in this category.
The Dell XPS 12 is available from Dell with a choice of keyboards starting at $1500