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Dell’s XPS 12 is the world's first 4K 2-in-1 - hands on

Matt Breen Richard Easton
8 Oct 2015
Dell XPS 12 teaser
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Dell's XPS 12 is set to give the Surface Pro 4 a run for its money with a supremely high-resolution display

A bit like buses, it seems, major 2-in-1 tablet announcements come in bunches. We just saw the Microsoft Surface Book, Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and HP Spectre X2 announced in the span of two days. Now Dell has gotten in on the action and announced its new XPS 12, the world’s first 2-in-1 tablet with an astonishing 4K Ultra HD (3,840x2,160) resolution touch display.

Granted, you’ll only get that number of pixels if you opt for the more expensive configurations. A more reserved Full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution option is also available. These equate to pixel densities of 352ppi and 176ppi for the 12.5in displays, respectively.

Dell XPS 12 laptop side

Colour accuracy is another area where the two displays differ; the higher resolution covers 100% of the colour gamut (Adobe RGB). The Full HD display, on the other hand, makes do with just 72%, making it not the best choice if you’re involved in colour accurate work. I had a chance to take an advanced look at an early XPS 12 build and it’s fair to say the Ultra HD display was gorgeous with vibrant colours and sharp images. How it fares under more intense testing remains to be seen.

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Depending on the configuration, the XPS 12 tablet component starts at 790g, increasing to 1.27kg when you attach the mobility base keyboard. For comparison’s sake, the HP Spectre X2 weighs more as a tablet, at 840g, but less when combined with its keyboard at 1.22kg. Both tablets are 8mm thick.

Dell XPS 12 tablet side

The way the XPS 12 docks with its mobility base is a bit of a strange one. It does so using magnets and doesn’t really have any sort of clasp that I’m used to seeing. There’s a groove in the mobility base that the tablet slots into and a magnet in the centre docks and holds the two together. However, with the early build version I saw, grabbing the tablet at an awkward angle caused the tablet to slide horizontally in the groove, undocking the two components.

The other issue comes with the fact that, when used as a laptop, there’s no screen angle adjustment. There’s literally just one angle the screen is propped up to. This is because there’s no adjustable hinge. Aside from getting a more comfortable viewing angle, anyone who’s ever used a laptop on a train’s tiny tray will know that sometimes you need to adjust the angle simply due to space restraints. I’ll need more time testing in the real world to see if the lack of adjustments will cause any problems but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Dell XPS 12 docking

There’s the backlit keyboard we’ve all come to expect from XPS devices as well as a generously-sized touchpad. Both felt nice and comfortable to use during my time testing. Inside the XPS 12 is a dual-core 6th generation Intel m5-6Y54 processor running at up to 2.7GHz. There’s also a generous 8GB of DDR3 memory as well. For storage, you have a choice of either 128GB or 256GB SSD.

The XPS 12 has two Thunderbolt 3 ports that can be used for charging. Dell has new Thunderbolt docking solutions available now, too, and these will work happily with the XPS 12. A USB Type-C to Type-A adaptor is also included for your older USB peripherals.

Dell XPS 12 Thunderbolt 3 ports

^When folded down, the tablet and mobility base keyboard are held together slightly awkwardly by a second magnet

Right now, prices haven’t been confirmed for the XPS 12 but we would expect the entry-level (i.e. non-Ultra HD) to start around the £850 mark to remain competitive with the HP Spectre X2 and Microsoft Surface Pro 4. The XPS 12 is expected to release around January.

XPS 13 and XPS 15

Dell XPS 15 2015

As well as the shiny new XPS 12, Dell has also announced upgrades to its XPS 13 and XPS 15 laptops. The XPS 13 is now available with up to a Quad HD screen (3,200x1,800) touch display, as well as a 1,920x1,080 non-touch version. Just like before, Dell has crammed a 13.3in screen into the chassis of your typical 11in laptop thanks to its InfinityEdge bezel-less display. The non-touch model will weigh 1.2kg, with the 4K touch model weighing 1.29kg.

Memory options include 4GB, 8GB and 16GB DDR3 memory. Storage can be configured all the way up to 1TB PCIe SSDs. Like the XPS 12, there's a Thunderbolt 3 port that can also be used with Dell's new dock range. Intel Skylake processors are the order of the day when it comes to processing power, ranging from a 2.3GHz i3-6100U all the way up to a 3.4GHz i7-6600U.

Expect around 18 hours of battery life from the Full HD model and 11 hours of wireless web browsing with the Quad HD. Prices will start at around £849.

Dell XPS 13 2015 side

The new larger 15.6in XPS 15 is, in fact, the world's smallest 15.6in laptop. It has a similar InfinityEdge display squeezed into the chassis of a typical 14in laptop and is 11-17mm thick. You also get a choice of Full HD or 4K touch displays. The non-touch model will weigh 1.78kg whereas the 4K touch model will be slightly heavier at 2kg. You can configure with 8GB or 16GB of memory, with 32GB DDR4 coming at a later date. There's a choice of either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5. Storage options include: 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash; 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, or 1TB PCIe SSD. Thunderbolt 3 again makes an appearance. 

Dell XPS 13 2015 lid

Dell rates the battery life at around 10 hours 30 minutes for the 4K model and 17 hours with the Full HD. An optional Dell Power Companion is available that will net you a further 9 hours. Prices for the XPS 15 will start at £1,099.