Dell XPS 12 review

11 Jan 2013

Dell’s XPS 12 is a stylish, ingeniously designed hybrid, but it’s still a better Ultrabook than it is a tablet

Price when reviewed: 
1,279(£1279 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
5

Recent months have seen all manner of hybrid devices make their debut, but none are quite like the Dell XPS 12. Dell’s split-personality hybrid is a laptop capable of transforming from a sliver-thin Ultrabook into a 12.5in tablet with a mere prod of a finger.

Open the lid, push firmly upon the display’s upper half and, with a soft click, the magnets and latches disengage, allowing the panel to pirouette through 180 degrees. Snap the lid shut, and the XPS 12 assumes its tablet guise; swing the base around, and, just like the Lenovo Yoga 13, the Dell’s hinged base doubles as an adjustable stand.

Dell XPS 12 - rear 3/4 (screen flipped)

While you might expect such a design to feel flimsy, the XPS 12 exceeds expectations. The base not only looks great, but it feels taut and flex-free, and the combination of a metal frame and carbon-fibre construction does a great job of keeping the display and bezel feeling more solid than you might expect. It’s only once you compare it to Lenovo’s Yoga 13 that the XPS 12’s flip-twist design begins to feel fragile.

The display is one of the best we’ve seen on any Dell laptop. With a Full HD resolution on a Gorilla Glass-covered 12.5in panel, everything is pin-sharp. We had to increase Windows’ DPI setting to avoid painfully tiny text, but the image quality is gorgeous. With a contrast ratio of 681:1 and a gleaming maximum brightness of 395cd/m2, the XPS 12 is only a tad behind the best laptops money can buy.

Dell XPS 12 - front

In laptop mode, the XPS 12 is excellent. More accident-prone purchasers will appreciate the spill-resistant keyboard, the backlit keys illuminate when the lights go down, and the slightly concave keys partner with a firm, crisp feel to make the XPS 12 a typist’s delight.

The glass touchpad is equally luxurious, with a silky finish that makes for a lovely feel under the finger. It’s almost flush with the wristrest, so invoking Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures is easy and reliable. We had to do some fettling in the control panel to get the sensitivity just right, though, and experienced the odd hitch with two-fingered zooming and scrolling, with gestures occasionally not recognised.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,066
Price inc VAT £1,279
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 317 x 214 x 20mm (WDH)
Weight 1.510kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-3517U
Motherboard chipset Intel QS77 Express
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 12.5in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics card RAM N/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Spindle speed N/A
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk Samsung PM830
Optical drive none
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
FireWire ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad/Touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 1min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.65
Responsiveness score 0.68
Media score 0.74
Multitasking score 0.52

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8
Recovery method Recovery partition

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