Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 is now available

Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 Is No Surface Pro 4 Or MacBook Pro Alternative [Opinion]

The high-end version of the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which just arrived in stores this week, costs $1,799 — it comes with an Intel (Y Series) Core i7 Processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 13.3-inch QHD+ screen. It’s quite a beautiful device that fulfills dreams of having the XPS 13 turn into a tablet. Dell’s latest device has received great reviews from CNET, Laptop Mag, and other sources.

However, there is one major flaw that will be discussed in a little bit.

Design

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is on sale now
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 looks almost exactly like the non-tablet version of the XPS 13. [Image by Daryl Deino]

The 2-in-1 looks very similar to the regular XPS 13, except the bottom is slightly thinner and the screen (which has an active digitizer inside) is a little thicker. At 2.7 pounds, it weighs just as much as the regular XPS 13 but feels better in your hands.

The Infinity screen, which barely has any bezel space, looks even better when it is turned around 360 degrees. The XPS 13 is a little too heavy to constantly use as a tablet, but it’s designed to be a laptop first and a tablet second. It does that very well.

The webcam is still at the bottom of the screen, but Dell put it in the middle this time. The webcam placement at the bottom has been quite controversial because most people on Skype could easily see your double chin. However, if you put the XPS 13 2-in-1 in tent mode, the camera is on top instead of at the bottom.

Screen

The 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800-pixel screen is the best aspect of the 2-in-1. It has a better contrast ratio than the regular XPS 13 or any Dell computer. The regular XPS 13 screen looks slightly washed out, but not this screen. It looks like something you just want to look at and repeatedly run your fingers on, which you can since the XPS 13 is a touchscreen hybrid. For $50, you can buy a Dell digital stylus that lets you ink on your 2-in-1.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the regular 13 is good, but not great. However, the 2-in-1’s keyboard is slightly better. Even though the keys have the same amount of travel, they are slightly wider and feel better. One will find that they can type on the 2-in-1 just as well as they can with the Butterfly keyboard on Apple’s new MacBook Pro devices.

Performance

The Dell XPS 13 Hybrid is available now
Dell XPS 13’s latest hybrid runs on a less powerful processor than the regular version. [Image by Daryl Deino]

Here is where we have a major problem. The high-end XPS 13 2-in-1 runs on an Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processor, but not the high-powered U version. Instead, the much-criticized Intel Core M CPU has been rebranded to the regular “Intel Core i” processor, confusing customers into thinking it’s a full-powered processor. The “Y” that completely differentiates the processor is found in the root number (Core i7-7Y75).

However, the new mobile processor is definitely more powerful than the Core M series. As Intel correctly claims, Kaby Lake Y processors have what is known as Dynamic Power Mode, which allows the processor to run at nine watts for up to 10 minutes. The processor, at its highest speed, usually runs at seven watts. It does help make things run satisfactorily, but not very fast.

For example, you can open Photoshop on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (Intel Core i5 U series processor) and start editing photos immediately when running both Word and Chrome with four tabs open. If you run the exact setup on the XPS 13 2-in-1, even though it has twice as much RAM, there is a roughly five-second delay before you can start actually opening a photo. Editing videos with Cyberlink PowerDirector can be done on the 2-in-1, but it’s a painstaking process that makes the laptop lava hot.

If you are buying the XPS 13 2-in-1 as a machine to edit videos and render 3D photos, please look elsewhere. It’s not a Surface Pro 4 (higher-end version) or MacBook Pro alternative. However, if you are a blogger who needs to edit photos and once in a while put videos together for YouTube, the 2-in-1 is more than adequate and up to the task.

Battery Life

In a test, a 1080p HD video was constantly looped with the computer set at 80 percent brightness. This allowed almost seven hours of battery life. Other sources have claimed they have achieved eight hours of use in a similar situation. The battery certainly lasts longer for the average user than the XPS 13 does, but it doesn’t last as long as the lower-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro or 12-inch MacBook does.

Conclusion

The XPS 13 2-in-1 takes (almost) everything that people have loved about the XPS 13 and turns it into a tablet that offers digital inking capabilities with an optional stylus. The screen and keyboard are actually slight improvements. The only thing lacking from the non-tablet version is power. If Dell would have included the regular U series Intel Kaby Lake i7 processor instead of the mobile Y version, the XPS 13 2-in-1 could have been the ultimate laptop hybrid.

[Featured Image by Daryl Deino]

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