Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dell XPS 12 Convertible Review

After much deliberation I finally decided to take the plunge into the new convertible era for PC's.
The platform? The Dell XPS 12 Convertible.
This implementation of the convertible concept uses a swivel to convert between the laptop form factor to a tablet style.

I thought id just give it a review and focus on the device as opposed to the convertible vs not discussion. The decision to use this as the platform to start with was based on its ability to suit my needs. I would primarily use it as a laptop and the tablet side would fill the remaining needs. Now what separates this in comparison to other convertibles? For the convertible to suit my needs it would have to address these main features:

  1. Screen
  2. Keys
  3. Battery life
  4. Well built mobility features (speakers - convertible styles)
  5. Specs to support programming, web editing, video editing and some gaming
  6. And ultimately to boost productivity away from my desktop.

The Screen

I'll start here as it is the first thing you will look at and from first glance you can tell instantly that it is a stunning screen. It's IPS, fitting 1080p resolution on a 12.5" Screen and has Gorilla Glass to complete the look and provide you with a sense of durability. As I would be using the tablet form factor this type of glass was an important factor for use in the long term.

Battery Life

The battery life I would say is about average and many making their decision with their purchase would like upwards of 6 hours worth to make their decision. The XPS 12 generally gives me in the vicinity of 4-5 hours for average use at a time. Whilst watching movies or streaming it drops significantly to about 2-3 hours as you'd expect. I did manage though to watch a complete movie the other day and stream 40 minutes of video without a charge. For me personally, this was enough for me to be satisfied but if I were to get less than 4 hours at best - that couldve been a deal breaker.
At this stage though I don't see many other machines that offer significantly more that fit the profile I wanted.
Overall, it's not the best but it is definitely enough for most users. I'd say its a little higher than the middle of the pack when it comes to this factor.


This one was simple - first was size and due to it being in a 13" case they had space to work with and utilized it well. The second was that it had to be backlit - which it is suiting late night programming and such. Tick in both cases, moving on...

Mobility features

Namely speakers and converting style.
Speakers - much louder than I expected. Whilst on the run I don't always have external speakers handy and sometimes you don't want to physically be at your laptop or require hearing other things than just the audio from the laptop. In this case I am very happy with the both the volume and clarity.

Now onto the converting style - which to me provided many deal breaking opportunities for most models. First off I didn't want anything I felt was going to break (too easily). Form factors like the lenovo with the twist - with all the stress in one joint it seemed too flimsy for my liking. After using the XPS 12 and the ease at which it turns in the aluminium frame it is actually quite sturdy.

Now the flip to convert style is quite handy for a few reasons. The first is I have a few options for how I want to use it. The 2 obvious ones are as a laptop and as a tablet as shown here.

What I do also like that I can flip it and keep it folded up to use the whole base like a flip stand - with multiple angles. This has the advantage over the upcoming Microsoft Surface which I was also considering as an option with the kickstand being a cool attachment but cannot sit at multiple angles. The Surface though is focused on being primarily used in the tablet form factor.
Another advantage of the flip to convert is that when I am finished with it, the screen is now faced down and feels more protected than in comparison to the Sony convertible which slides down with the screen still faced up to achieve tablet mode. Some may say "well then its a chunky tablet" - some convertibles use the detachable form factor but I prefer not to have a detachable piece especially
when travelling whether it be on the train or on a flight I find the detachable piece can be quite annoying when you need to quickly convert modes then put the spare piece in your bag etc.


The top model sports latest generation i7-3517U @ 1.9Ghz processor 8gb of ram and the Intel 4000 Graphics and a 128gb SSD.
This combination has been powerful enough thus far having finally installed visual studio 2012 and netbeans with no issues debugging programmes etc.
As for gaming, I know not to expect a high intensity gaming experience but I will be testing games such as Batman Arkham City, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and Guild Wars 2.
Once I've gone through some of these I'll update my experiences with such titles.


With all of these elements I have found this to be the perfect device to complement my work style and game style. When using my desktop primarily or at work, I can flip the laptop and use the base as a kickstand while I have supporting document to scroll through or have emails on a separate screen.
Then when I want to move I fold it down to tablet form factor to use windows8 apps, or to show a document to another colleague. When leaving the office and not at home yet, I can still do real work with the same device - day or night.

If you are considering purchasing the Dell XPS 12 in this iteration of convertibles, I would definitely recommend it for those users wanting to take the dive into windows 8 and have a need for a convertible style device. With the primary use as a laptop, this convertible at this point in time
is definitely the bar for which one should compare any of the options they are considering. The price point is right where you'd expect it (although not hope) but with new technology that sports this combination of pieces is definitely worth it.

If you would like to know more or add your experiences just post a comment to let me know.

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