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Dell XPS 12 review


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

Review Date: 11 Jan 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,066 (£1,279 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £1116
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

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User comments

USB ports?

Its about time you changed your specs template to include the number of USB2 and USB3 ports - it would be much more useful information than the number of 9 pin serial ports.

By RichardRRJ on 11 Jan 2013


Hi Richard

I've stripped out the silly entries you noted, but the USB 3 field doesn't seem to be getting picked up in the website template.

I've flagged it for now, and we'll see if we can't get it fixed.

Just to clarify, the XPS 12 has two USB 3 ports, Mini-DisplayPort and no Ethernet. There is dual-band 802.11n wireless, however.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

By SashaMuller on 11 Jan 2013

if the price of £1,279 inc VAT is too much

Yes it is too much !
You mention a smaller brother but not its price.
It may be a cracking bit of kit but the price is just to rich. Considering a basic lap top can be bought for Sub £250, cannot actually see where the extra £1000 comes in.

By davidk1962 on 11 Jan 2013

Looks poor value for money considering prices available for Macbook Pro Retina 15

The Macbook Pro Retina can actually be bought for £1500 online if you shop around, and £1260 on eBay from 100% rated sellers, brand new, against which i don't think this machine can compete.

By Jonny_Bingham on 12 Jan 2013


the extra price comes in because this is Dell's top end ultra portable laptop, not a basic one, and nor is the spec considering it has a full hd display, i7 processor, 256gb ssd.

By Jonny_Bingham on 12 Jan 2013


And that sub 250 laptop, that has 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, full HD 12" display? It has an aluminium body, the touch screen rotates?

A Dacia Sandero is the SUV car on the market at the moment, why would you pay extra for a Land Rover, Range Rover or a Toyota?

By big_D on 12 Jan 2013

Thanks guys...

Thanks guys but you miss my point I know its not the same as a sub £250 laptop (!), what I point at is does the increased specification warrant a £1,000.00 pound increase.

8gb ram is peanuts, a 256gb ssd can be bought for sub £150, aluminium case add £50, add another £25 for the flip. Add £75 to increase the screen spec. OK the i7 thats probably an extra £250. Yep there is more to add and I am only guessing, but you've along way to go to make to make it to that price tag.

And thats all at retail.

and @ big_D, i'd rather walk than be caught in a land/range rover (but that is another issue for another forum). Unless it is an emergency/rescue vehicle where it is doing its job.

By davidk1962 on 12 Jan 2013

Dacia Sandero

Well you learn something new every day, never heard of one of these, it sounds like a type of Pond Fish...

On topic, there's a lot to commend Dell for with this product, it was out on time in my view, eg. before Christmas 2012, and reflects a return to quality from Dell not seen since before Michael Dell left the company.

WIthout product like this Microsoft will have a hard time convincing people to adopt Windows 8, or the upcoming Windows 9 which will presumably correct the Vistaness of Win 8.

Its an early adopter price, but I would expect this to fall back somewhat once the rest of the pack catch up.

By Gindylow on 15 Jan 2013

Windows 8 Devices

Are you planning on doing an upcoming issue reviewing the best Windows 8 devices?

By pariddington on 16 Jan 2013


My Favorite Tablet: The Octopus Tablet: For 1K dollar
1.A small PC with Windows Office and Photoshop
2.A HDTV at full 1080p, plays: avi, mov, wmv..
3.A (second) monitor for DSLR camera’s or DVD player with HDMI IN, using the ONE DOLLAR plug.
4.A full drawing tablet, with ‘Wacom’ drawing/ painting pen included.
5.A scanner with OCR character recognition
6.A photo/ video camera with 8M pixels on the back
7.A back up device with USB3 connector
8.A video editor with Videopad basic.
Next to the octopus features! Bluetooth, WIFI, microSD, 64G ram..the tablet has it all.
What’s the ONE dollar plug- connector= HDMI IN/OUT (DisplayPort In/Out)
Free Apps.
PhotoLight: you can turn the brightness to ‘high’ white 3200K, so you can use it as a photo light source for DSLR camera’s with full sensors like Canon and Nikon. (ISO12500)
Painting app.
Corel paint for tablet

Stand for a DSLR camera
Cable for video DispayPort HDMI-- IN/OUT
Bluetooth Keyboard

By Antonio_Banderas on 7 Feb 2013

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