Dell XPS 12 review: first look

25 Oct 2012
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Dell-XPS-12-hands-on_thumb.jpg

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of days examining Windows 8 devices in all shapes and forms, but to me the XPS 12 (which first broke cover at this year's IFA) looks like the real deal: a powerful laptop when you want it, a tablet when you just want to consume or fiddle with information.

Its basic design is no novelty, with Dell’s Inspiron Duo making its debut a couple of years ago. But it’s taken Windows 8 to make sense of it, helped along by the kind of design quality you’d expect from Dell’s premium laptops.

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It may seem strange to start with the keyboard, but this screams quality in a way that rivals fail to match. The full-sized keys and uncluttered layout make it a pleasure to type on - it's leaps and bounds better than some of its convertible tablet rivals, such as Sony's VAIO Duo 11.

The screen quality looks perfectly good – we’ll have to get a full review unit into the Labs before passing proper judgement – with brightness matched by good viewing angles and vibrant colours. The Full-HD, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution makes for pin-sharp images across the 12.5in panel.

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But of course it’s the ability of the screen to pivot within the lid that marks the XPS 12 out, and the mechanism works well. Hidden magnets see it lock into position with a click, but it's easy to move when you need to. That said, only time spent commuting with it will reveal whether or not it jolts annoying out of place when you go over a jump in the train tracks.

Another big factor in its favour is sheer speed. Different specs will be available, but I played with a Core i5 machine and it felt every bit as slick and responsive as its Ultrabook counterparts.

Does this mean you should rush out and buy one? I’d still advise caution, not least because there are so many Windows 8 devices out there (over 1,000 according to one Microsoft source), but the XPS 12 looks like the front runner – as far as convertible Ultrabooks are concerned, anyway.

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