Dell has managed to make a strong name for itself as far as Ultrabooks go and it is once again taking the lead in the Indian market with the swanky new XPS 12. The smallest in the series, the XPS 12 combines the same premium, high-quality craftsmanship we’ve seen in the XPS 13 with a bit of razzle dazzle. On one hand, it’s a regular Ultrabook and then with a quick screen flip, it turns into a tablet. Dell had debuted this same concept a few CESs back, but it never really made it to production because the software wasn’t quite touch friendly at the time. So, does the XPS 12 have enough practical value to justify the high price tag? Let’s find out.
Design and build
On the face of it, the XPS 12 looks like nothing more than a shrunken down version of the XPS 13. Save for the carbon fibre finish on the lid, it looks pretty much identical to its elder sibling. The chassis is made up of a mix of carbon fibre, machined aluminium and Gorilla Glass for the display. This makes the notebook extremely durable and sturdy and it will happily take the beating of everyday use without showing any scars. It’s quite light as well with a starting weight of 1.54 kg. While this is quite light for a notebook, it’s a lot for a tablet.
The ports and buttons are arranged a little differently so that it’s convenient to use in either modes. We have speaker grilles on either side for stereo sound, a volume rocker and orientation lock button for tablet mode, headphone jack and the power switch to the left. The other side houses two USB 3.0 ports, the charging port and a mini DisplayPort connector. There’s no card reader, LAN jack or HDMI present.
Doing the flip
You can switch to tablet mode by simply rotating the display within the bezel itself. There are latches that hold the screen in place when locked into position so that it doesn’t accidentally pop out when travelling. The mechanism is extremely smooth and fluid, allowing you to flip the screen in one swift motion. The backlit keyboard is the exact same one used on the XPS 13 and just like it, the battery is also non-removable. Overall, the Dell XPS 12 is very well designed and built and simply exudes style and luxury.
Low on connectivity
The XPS 12 is available in four pre-set configurations. The base model that we received came with an Intel Core i5-3317U Ivy Bridge CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 128GB SSD storage. This being a hybrid notebook, you get Windows 8 as the OS of choice. The XPS 12 maxes out at a Core i7-3517U, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Sadly, there’s no option for a discrete GPU even if you want it. The battery capacity also remains the same. One good thing is that you get a Full HD display as default, no matter which configuration you pick. The panel has very good viewing angles and excellent colour reproduction, which makes watching video or simply using Modern UI a real treat. However, one side effect of having such a high-resolution display on a screen this small is that the desktop environment does not scale as well as Modern UI so everything looks really small. This makes it a real task to work on text documents or simply read anything without having to zoom in.