Regular readers of my blog would know that I reviewed and eventually purchased a Lenovo Yoga 13 so that I can fully enjoy Windows 8 touch experience. Back then I did not have access to the Dell XPS 12 review unit, and although I have heard a lot of positive impressions, I did not have confidence on the XPS 12 flipscreen mechanism.
Now that I finally tested a review unit, I must say that the Dell XPS 12 equally impresses me on the design and user experience, and if I were to choose again, I might go for the XPS 12 instead.
What I Like
Build quality. The XPS 12 is made up of several materials to create the premium and solid feel. From the strong aluminium frame of the flipscreen to the tough carbon fibre surfaces and Corning Gorilla glass screen. They won't wear and tear that easily.
Firm keyboard with backlight. The keyboard action is firm and doesn't feel too soft. The backlit keys helps when working under weak lighting conditions.
Sufficient Tilt Angle. The XPS 12's screen can tilt quite a distance. In fact, the angle is just nice when you put the XPS 12 on your lap while seated upright.
Sensitive touchpad. The XPS 12 touchpad is rather sensitive, allowing me to scroll in small movements. I do find the touchpad works less reliably when doing fast swipes and gestures. The touchpad supports up to 4-finger gestures, and while the gestures are not customisable, it is very useful. I do come across some independent reviews describing touchpad problems, but my review unit really works well. I guess this shows that driver updates might provide usage improvements.
Responsive touchscreen. I thought the touchscreen was one of the more responsive ones I've reviewed. The Gorilla glass coating lets me glide on the screen with ease. Having said that, I had instances where the touchscreen failed to work at all. It came back to life after I closed the lid and open back up again. Somehow the screen got deactivated, a bug no doubt.
Better tablet look. Changing from laptop to tablet is a lot swifter - just open the lid, flip the screen 180-degrees, and close back the lid. The flipscreen lock is firm enough such that it does not give way when you exert force on the screen when touch-interacting. The aluminium frame is hard and easily holds the weight of the XPS 12 if you were to hold it by the frame.
When flipped to the tablet mode, the XPS 12 looks the part, unlike the Lenovo Yoga 13 with the exposed keyboard. The aluminium frame really make the XPS 12 stands out, so much so that I would prefer to keep it in tablet mode most of the times.
Stereo speakers at the sides. In doing so, you can still hear audio even in tablet mode when the lid is closed. Am I glad that the speakers are not underneath the laptop.
Battery Indicator. Like all XPS, you can press a button to to find out the remaining battery life indicated by 5 LED lights.
Mini DisplayPort. This port allows you to connect either analog VGA or digital HDMI and DVI ports via inexpensive adapters.
Memory card slot. Not a deal-breaker, but it would be great to have one, so that I can easily transfer files.
What I Do Not Like
Hard to lift the lid. It is not easy to pry open the XPS 12. You would need some practice to open it with style.
Good Looking, Good Working
The Dell XPS 12 is tough, looks good, and works well too. I find the flipscreen implementation unique, and if proven to be durable, Dell should continue to use this design DNA for its future laptops.