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REVIEW: Dell’s New XPS 13 2-in-1 Is Bright, Fast, And Beautiful

Dell’s XPS 13 does precisely what it says on the tin: rather being a laptop that bends over on itself, like previous incarnations, this is an actual detachable tablet with separate keyboard. Two products in one, you might say.

In fact, the Dell XPS 13 9315 2-in-1 marks the first detachable XPS since the XPS 10 was released in late 2012 – it’s interesting to see them revert back to this clearly superior design, and makes one wonder why they strayed from the original formula at all.

It’s an actual 2-in-1 – a powerful tablet that operates smoothly as a standalone – and a laptop that stands up against more expensive competition and hits far above its weight.

Speaking of weight, without the clamshell design of its other recent XPS devices, Dell have been able to shed some of the weight that made other models seem a little cumbersome for the on-the-go lifestyle these are designed to complement. It weighs just 700grams, making this a truly portable device.

The first thing you’ll notice (aside from the weight) is the 3K screen, with its bright and beautiful display. As you’d hope, it is very responsive to both the pen and touch commands. The pen especially feels like you are actually writing, as opposed to waving a wand at the screen and approximating, like other pens. (In fact, it feels so natural I absentmindedly attempted to write on paper with it numerous times over the past week – which is a problem MSI have actually solved elsewhere. But I digress.)

The way the keys are laid out, without spaces between them, will slow down any touch typers out there, although the keys themselves are responsive and feel good under your fingers. I’m not a touch typer — being firmly of the hunt-and-peck school of four-fingers typers — so this doesn’t bother me.

Maybe it’s simply a case of getting used to it – same as any slightly different interface – and it does take a while to adapt to the fact the keys are laid on a folio-style base. It feels like it should be flimsy, but it really isn’t.

The 13-inch screen sports a nice 3:2 aspect ratio with a 3K resolution (2,880 x 1,920). This model boasts a rather impressive 2160p rear-facing camera, and a 1080p webcam, both of which are far better than they have any right to be.

If you are looking to buy a notepad/laptop rather than a tablet due solely to the increased oomph, the 12th Gen Intel i7, Iris XE graphics card, and 16GB of memory might just change your mind.

The downsizes to this computer are purely design-based, which makes them a bit of an avoidable shame, but also not enough to actually sway your purchasing decision – take these as minor quibbles about a top product, not as warnings to steer clear.

First is the actual magnetic pen. With other recent devices with pens, there is a nice slot to keep the pen at the back, where it clips and will not be disturbed by the rough and tumble of transportation. This pen has no such place to clip it – it sits magnetically on the top of the laptop snugly enough, but risks being knocked off as soon as you place it in a bag. With such an easily lost item, this should have been front and centre when developing the aesthetics of the machine. Given the wrap-around case has a dent to accommodate the camera bump, its doubly frustrating that care was taken here, and not with the pen.

In the same realm, the two USB-C slots are located on the middle of the left hand side, meaning the power cord hovers awkwardly, and gets in the way unless you take special care to tuck it away. You also lose half a foot on length because of this. Again, a minor issue, but quite an avoidable one.

Also, there is no headphone jack. While this won’t even be noticed by most of the Bluetooth-loving, wireless headphone generation, it seems a pointless exclusion – again, something so easily remedied.

It seems unfair to point out these little issues when the Dell XPS 13 9315 2-in-1 is such a mighty device, and I would hate if this review reads as anything else but a hearty recommendation.

Unless you are a professional gamer, this computer will immediately make all your other devices seem redundant – it has the flexibility of a tablet, a bright, responsive screen for design work, and can match laptops twice its price for power and usability.

At less than a kilogram, you might even wanna leave your phone at home, too.

SCORE: 9.5/10

PROS:

  • Blistering response rate
  • Beautiful, bright screen
  • Steady as a rock, light as a feather

CONS:

  • The awkwardly placed USB-C inputs
  • No headphone jack
  • It isn’t (yet) sentient.

 



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