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Dell XPS 12 ultrabook review (Windows 8 convertible)

Updated on January 8, 2014

Dell XPS 12 is a convertible ultrabook, in other words, you can transform it into a tablet by just rotating its touch screen.


Pros:

- Good processing power;

– Access to files and boot are very fast with the SSD;

– Bonus: it can be used in tablet form;

– Screen with great definition and sensitivity to touch;

– Solid construction and yet lightweight;

– Good audio quality.


Cons:

- Few connections;

– I has display port, but its HDMI output needs an adapter that does not come with the product.


Verdict:

The Dell XPS 12 ultrabook stands out because it can be turned into a tablet. But this format we have to say that it turns heavy if you are holding it for a long time, after all it weighs 1.5 pound (light for a ultrabook, but heavy for a tablet). So it´s interesting to use it in this mode when you are on a couch or bed – places where it can be supported. On the tablet mode: it´s a bonus to the ultrabook be used otherwise, it’s fun. The screen has great touch sensitivity and this causes us to put off the touchpad because it´s much more immediate to interact with the software and windows going directly on the screen. Processing power is suitable for demanding tasks like multitasking. In the physical part, the keyboard is very comfortable and the carbon fiber construction ensures strength and lightweighting. The aluminum rims that serve as a basis to rotate the screen are dense, so very strict. In photos we saw before testing, we found that it was a fragile system. But the practical experience showed that the construction is very firm. Audio quality also surprised us with clear and high sound.

Dell XPS 12 ultrabook review »»» Configuration

Laptops are being reinvented. Besides being thinner and lighter, the ultrabooks now can turn into tablets. This is the case of the XPS 12, manufactured by Dell.


This model comes equipped with an Intel third generation processor, a Core i5-3317U - 1.7 GHz, which can reach 2.6 GHz depending on application needs. The GPU (graphics processor) is the HD 4000, also from Intel. The RAM uses standard DDR3 running at 1600 MHz (dual channel) and its capacity is 4GB.

Dell XPS 12 uses an SSD that replaces the traditional HD. The SSD drive is composed of memory chips. As it has no mechanical parts and accesses data electronically, the access to data is thousands of times faster than with an HD. It runs Windows 8 and comes with software from Dell that is very interesting to perform system backup, because in case of failure, it´s easy to recover.

In terms of connectivity, the XPS 12 has Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth. It also has two USB 3.0, a video output display port and a connector for headset, which also serves for microphone or earphones.


Design and finishing

XPS 12 design is very reminiscent of the Inspiron 14R (one of the brand´s notebook). It has rounded corners cut at the same angle and the edges of the cover are surrounded by aluminum. Despite this similarity at first glance, the XPS 12 stands out for its carbon fiber body, its touch sensitive screen and its capacity to transform into tablet (the screen turns on itself, based on two axes located in the center of each side edge, so it lands on top of the keyboard).

And it may seem fragile with this description I´ve made, but in our testing we found that the system is very rigid, well built, leaving no margin for criticism. When the screen is in position to act as a ultrabook one don´t even realizes that it is fanlight.

Its dimensions are 31.7 x 2 x 21.6 and it weighs 1.5 kg. Here we leave a note: 1.5 kg for an ultrabook it´s considered light, but to be used as an holding in hand tablet is heavy. So we find it interesting to use the XPS 12 as a tablet only if you have something to support it.

As the XPS 12 can also be used as a tablet, Dell has adjusted the buttons design so they can be also suitable for this format. The on / off button is key like, very small, you slide and drop to turn on and off the ultrabook. There is also a button to prevent screen rotation when you turn the laptop from horizontal to vertical.

Volume control button is also on the side. And so the XPS 12 has total control even when it is in the form of tablet. The speakers are also on the sides and the screen still has the Windows button at its base and serves to facilitate the user's life when he wants to return to the Home screen.


Screen

The 12.5 inch screen uses LED-backlit LCD technology. It has a great luster and color definition. Its resolution is 1920 x 1080 points, which means it is full HD. With this resolution, the Dell XPS 12 has almost twice more pixels than standard resolution screens.

Photos come out wiht great definition, since they are taken in high definition, but characters, Windows menus and icons are small text. Thankfully, you can change Windows font size. And the videos in full HD, are good? We can say that when you are watching movies on a screen of 12.5 inches it will not matter if the movie is in full HD or lower resolution. Therefore, they are as good as in standard definition screens.

The screen is also protected by Gorilla Glass, a technology developed by Corning that is resistant to scratches and minor impacts. The rear of the screen which is also ultrabook cover is coated with carbon fiber, so it is very light and very tough.


Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is soft, very comfortable for long typing. It has good spacing between the keys so that the fingers are well positioned without being squeezed. The touchpad is common and works as it should. It glides well and is accurate, and also has zoom functions (with fingers pinch) and you can slide the screen using two fingers. But with the touch screen, it's likely that you forget the touchpad because it is addictive to use the screen to click, moving screens, draw, adjust sizes, etc.


Performance

The XPS 12 maintains a processing performance quite similar to a notebook computer with the same CPU. But it differs by SSD, which makes the system boot very quickly and also has the help of Windows 8 that has optimized boot time compared to Windows 7. In our testing, the Windows 8 takes only 9 seconds to be ready for use from the moment we set in motion the button to turn on the ultrabook.

And to return from hibernation it takes only 2 seconds. Not bad at all. The performance of the touch screen is great.


Battery Life

To test the battery life, we used the software POWERMARK. We have executed the program in two ways. First in productivity mode, which only uses word processing and web browsing, which are activities that do not require much of the ultrabook. The Wi-Fi was also linked at this time and the screen brightness is at 50%. The keyboard light was also turned off. In this test the battery took 5 hours and 6 minutes to be discharged.

After recharging the battery, we use the POWERMARK in entertainment mode, which, in addition to word processing and web browsing, it also runs videos and games parts (graphics). In this mode the battery took 2 hours 38 minutes to unload.
These are not exceptional times, but they´re on the average for ultrabooks.

Dell XPS 12 ultrabook review »»» Verdict:

The Dell XPS 12 ultrabook stands out because it can be turned into a tablet. But this format we have to say that it turns heavy if you are holding it for a long time, after all it weighs 1.5 pound (light for a ultrabook, but heavy for a tablet). So it´s interesting to use it in this mode when you are on a couch or bed - places where it can be supported. On the tablet mode: it´s a bonus to the ultrabook be used otherwise, it's fun. The screen has great touch sensitivity and this causes us to put off the touchpad because it´s much more immediate to interact with the software and windows going directly on the screen. Processing power is suitable for demanding tasks like multitasking. In the physical part, the keyboard is very comfortable and the carbon fiber construction ensures strength and lightweighting. The aluminum rims that serve as a basis to rotate the screen are dense, so very strict. In photos we saw before testing, we found that it was a fragile system. But the practical experience showed that the construction is very firm. Audio quality also surprised us with clear and high sound.

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