Reviewers say the Dell XPS 12 is a very good Windows 8 convertible laptop, packed with blisteringly fast hardware and a bright, crisp 1080p display that proves very responsive to multi-touch controls. Rotating the screen and closing the lid transform the Ultrabook into a 12.5-inch slate, but experts say some other convertible laptops surpass its performance and value.
Are you sure this is a tablet? The third generation Core i5 processor, 128 GB solid-state drive and 4 GB of RAM are last generation compared with better Ultrabook models, but it's relatively potent for a tablet. Reviewers say the system blazes through tasks while the 1080p display looks crisp and clear, with exceptionally wide viewing angles. Battery life lasts between 5.5 and eight hours, which is great for a laptop but just OK for a tablet. The sound gets loud but is a bit muddled, critics report.
Split personality. The Dell XPS 12's calling card is its swiveling screen, which allows it to switch between a large-screen tablet and a full-fledged Windows 8 Ultrabook. As a Windows 8 device, the XPS 12 can run both traditional desktop Windows programs as well as the tablet-friendly apps found in the Windows Store. The Windows App Store's selection remains fairly skimpy, however, limiting the number of touch-optimized programs available. A front-facing webcam helps with video chatting but doesn't take especially good pictures, reviewers say, and others wish the laptop had an SD card slot.
Great input tools, iffy interface. Testers say the Dell XPS 12's keyboard, touchpad and touch screen all feel comfortable and responsive, while the powerful internals eliminate lag entirely. The display sports wide viewing angles and a light sensor that automatically adjusts the screen brightness to match the environment. The biggest stumbling block will likely be Windows 8 itself, but Dell includes several video tutorials to help new users get around the touch-oriented operating system.
A laptop first, a tablet second. As a laptop the 3.35-pound Ultrabook weighs remarkably little, but that heft and the 12.5-inch screen make the XPS 12 bulky as a tablet. Experts say it works better if you consider it a top-notch laptop with the ability to transform into a tablet when needed, rather than the other way around.
Improved overall. Dell's customer service and technical support has come in for some knocks in recent years. The brand took the worst knocks in last year's tech support survey by Laptop Magazine but has rebounded nicely by dropping some questionable phone practices. Dell scores below average compared to other top laptop makers in annual satisfaction surveys at PCMag.com, although that, too, represents a step forward from rankings in previous years.
The XPS 12 is backed by a one-year warranty that includes one year of on-site service following remote diagnosis and one year of phone support, so that's a plus.
All in how you look at it. If you want a single device that serves as both a functional and powerful laptop as well as a functional and powerful tablet, experts call the Dell XPS 12 a good option among Windows 8 hybrids. However, we've seen more positive feedback for the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Est. $850 and up) . A bigger screen and niftier folding mechanism make that convertible laptop a better value overall.
The Dell XPS 12 earns a rating of Excellent at PCMag.com thanks to a convertible design that functions as both a top-notch laptop and a top-notch (if a tad heavy) tablet. "The Dell XPS 12 is a front runner in the nascent hybrid category," Westover says.
Review: Dell XPS 12, Brian Westover, Oct. 23, 2012
2. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine also gives the XPS 12 an Excellent rating. "The Dell XPS 12 represents the most elegant way we've seen to handle Windows 8's dual interfaces," Prospero says.
Review: Dell XPS 12 Review, Michael A. Prospero, Oct. 23, 2012
3. Computer Shopper
ComputerShopper.com says the Dell XPS 12 delivers a potent combination of fast performance, great design and comfortable ergonomics. On the downside, the hybrid is a bit bulkier than conventional tablets.
Review: Dell XPS 12 Review and Ratings, Brad Chacos, Oct. 25, 2012
The Dell XPS 12 proves to be a versatile and well-designed device full of power and portability, Ackerman says. Nevertheless, "for all the hype about touch and tablets with Windows 8, the XPS 12 still works better as a laptop than as a slate," he writes.
Review: Dell XPS 12 Review: A Unique Take on the Convertible Laptop/Tablet, Dan Ackerman, Oct. 23, 2012
5. Notebook Check.net
Notebookcheck.net wholeheartedly recommends the Dell XPS 12 after testing its mettle in several benchmark evaluations. "A sensational start: the XPS 12 is an amazing pick of hardware built by Dell," Schonborn says. "Even though we tested the precursor model, we found few flaws."
Review: Review Dell XPS 12 Convertible, Till Schonborn, Oct. 23, 2012
The Dell XPS 12 isn't for people looking solely for a tablet, Wollman reports. However, its versatility makes it a great option for those who want to carry a single device. "Though the XPS 12's size and weight make it a bit unwieldy as a substitute tablet, it's still a compelling option if you're in the market for a high-end, touch-enabled Ultrabook," she writes.
Review: Dell XPS 12 Review: With the Launch of Windows 8, 'Convertible' Takes on a New Meaning, Dana Wollman, Oct. 23, 2012
Credibility: Very Good
Unlike other reviewers, Null isn't exactly taken with the Dell XPS 12, calling it heavy, loud and hot compared to more mainstream tablet-only slates. "As a laptop, I have no real complaint with the XPS 12," he says. "But, tragically, it's largely unusable as a tablet." Wired gives the device 5 out of 10 stars.
Review: Dell XPS 12: Flippity Doodad, Christopher Null, Oct. 23, 2012