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Dell XPS 12 review

Dell takes Windows 8 into flip-screen territory

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1920 x 1080
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Great processor
  • Top quality screen
  • Massive SSD
  • Cheaper than Retina
  • Fantastic build

Against

  • Too heavy
  • Limited use as a tablet
  • Windows with touch is difficult
  • No HDMI

Windows 8 has a shaken up the design of laptops and tablets, with the new emphasis on touchscreen technology resulting in some of the best hybrids we've ever seen.

With this in mind, there was little surprise when Dell announced that its new 12.5-inch Ultrabook, the Dell XPS 12 convertible, would be another shape-shifting device. But there were a few raised eyebrows when we learned that the screen-swivelling design of the Dell Inspiron Duo from 2010 was making a return.

  • Buy XPS 12 Ultrabook from Dell

Available for £1,299 /AU$1,499/US$1,199, it's a serious outlay but with top components and both laptop and tablet functionality, it's one of the biggest names on the Windows 8 roster.

Dell XPS 12 review

The Dell XPS 12's party trick is its 12.5-inch touchscreen, which swivels on a hinge within the bezel so that it can be folded back on itself and used like a tablet. You can use your digits to control Windows both in laptop and tablet mode.

We've been spoiled with Windows 8 laptop-tablet hybrids over the last few months, and there's been a huge range of new devices which have been realised through a host of different designs.

There's the sliding Sony Vaio Duo 11 (which nipped in to steal the 'Duo' name from the XPS 12), the bendy Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, not to mention the transformer style Asus VivoBook and Microsoft Surface (the non-RT model slated for next year.)

The Dell XPS 12 is the only 12.5-inch model in this list of Ultrabooks, which tries to bridge the divide between the now standard 13-6-inch laptop and the 10-inch tablet. Toshiba has also recognised this potential sweet spot and launched its Toshiba Satellite U940T convertible Ultrabook with the same screen size.

Dell XPS 12 review

The Dell XPS 12 fits right into the rest of Dell's Ultrabook lineup. It's made from carbon fibre, with a soft textured lid and cool aluminium detailing. There's a full-sized keyboard and a luxurious trackpad, but there's a substantial bulk that somewhat overrules the entire hybrid premise.

The Dell XPS 12 weighs a substantial 1.54kg (3.4lbs), which is a perplexing bulk for a 12-inch laptop. Most 13-inch Ultrabooks have converged at the 1.3kg (2.87lbs) mark, so the extra weight with an inch less real estate is confusing.

Dell XPS 12 review

It's noticeable too, and it turns the clever trick of spinning the screen around into an uncomfortable experience that limits the need to use the feature at all.

Watching movies on trains and planes is certainly a good reason to use it, and so is providing a comfortable way to use touchscreen apps, which don't exist yet. However, we'd wager that most Dell XPS 12 users will spend 90% of their time using it like a laptop.

Of course, price is all important, and at £1,299 /AU$1,499/US$1,199 it's not far from the MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display price, which you can buy for £1,499/AU$1,899/US$1,699.

Dell XPS 12 review

But how does the Dell XPS 12 compare? Read on as we get down and dirty with this swivelling Ultrabook.

Tech Specs

Product TypeUltrabook/Tablet
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD 4000
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Solid State Drive Capacity128 GB
DisplayPortYes
Product FamilyXPS Duo 12
Keyboard BacklightYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Processor Modeli5-3317U
ColourAnodized Aluminium
Operating SystemWindows 8
Brand NameDell
Form FactorConvertible
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Processor TypeCore i5
Screen Size31.8 cm (12.5")
Number of Cells6-cell
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Standard Memory4 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.52 kg
Cache3 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Height20.1 mm
Width317 mm
Depth214.9 mm
Screen ModeFull HD
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Product Series12
ManufacturerDell, Inc
Product NameXPS 12 Ultrabook/Tablet
Product LineXPS Duo
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberXPSD12-1600ALU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.dell.co.uk
Marketing Information

Break the boundaries of work and play.

This touch-enabled 12" convertible laptop combines the fun of a Windows 8 touch tablet with the power and productivity of an Ultrabook™.

Flexible design.

Transform your XPS 12 Ultrabook™ to a tablet with a fluid flip-and-fold motion. Have the best of productivity and entertainment right at your fingertips.

Limited Warranty1 Year