Dell's XPS 12: Notebook to tablet - flip magic?

Jan 20, 2013, 10:41 IST | Nimish Dubey

In terms of form factor, the Dell XPS 12 is definitely one of a kind, but is there substance behind the style?

It has been raining convertibles and hybrids in the market ever since Microsoft launched its touch-friendly Windows 8 OS. Every manufacturer has since been out to prove that they have the best combination of touch and type to offer the consumer. And one of the devices that has been showcased and talked of most often in this regard has been Dell’s XPS 12, a convertible ultrabook, which attempts to double up both as a conventional ultrabook/notebook and a tablet.

Dell showed us it was capable of design magic with its XPS 13 last year, which we consider the closest a notebook has come to rattling the MacBook Air’s cage. The XPS 12 takes another step in that direction. It is a mere 8mm at its thinnest and 20mm at its thickest, and tips the scales at a very lightweight (for a notebook) 1.54 kg. When shut, it looks like a slim ultrabook with a carbon fibre top and an aluminum rim. Open it and it still seems like a conventional notebook, with a decent keyboard and trackpad and the usual array of ports — two USB 3.0 ports, a mini display port and a headphone/microphone port. Then there is the 12.5-inch full HD (1920 x 1080) Corning Gorilla Glass (scratchproof) touchscreen display with a front facing camera.

The display that is magical. Push it back and it will actually flip over from the bezel and revolve around to the other side, while staying within the frame. Put it down on the keyboard and what you have in your hands is a Windows 8 tablet. It is not the lightest tablet but if one wants to view rather than type content, it works brilliantly. Ensuring that everything ticks along merrily is a third generation powerful Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, depending on the model you choose, combined with 4-8GB of RAM and SSD storage of up to 256 GB. Yes, we would have preferred better graphics but as long as you do not get into high-definition gaming, your experience on this device is going to be very good.

The keyboard is easy to use, although the trackpad is a bit iffy. The 12.5-inch display is an odd size but renders everything so brilliantly that one barely notices this fact. And the revolving mechanism works smoothly while appearing solid enough. One area where we did feel a trifle let down was in battery life. Blame it on Dell for spoiling us with the nearly nine-hour battery life on the superb XPS 13. The XPS 12 generally struggled to get past the five hour mark unless we yanked down the brightness, which, given the brilliance of the display, we were not keen on.

It runs Windows 8 smoothly in touch as well as type mode, works well as a sleek ultrabook and can double up as a tablet. Unfortunately, the XPS 12 starts at Rs 89,990. If you are on a tight budget, we would advocate either waiting for a more affordable option or opting for a conventional Windows 8 notebook with a touchscreen. But if money is no problem, this is as good as it gets.

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