Reviews: PC

Excellent but pricey 2-in-1 convertible

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible's edge-to-edge touchscreen is stunning and looks as clear as the day even from the sides.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible's edge-to-edge touchscreen is stunning and looks as clear as the day even from the sides.PHOTO: DELL

Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible gives you four usage modes

Samsung made the headlines recently for the almost bezel-free Infinity Display on its latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ handsets. But did you know that Dell already had a similar bezel-free display, dubbed InfinityEdge Display, back in 2015, albeit on its XPS 13 notebook?

The PC maker did not refresh the XPS 13's award-winning design (it snagged our Editor's Choice gong) last year. But the company has now introduced a new variant, the XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible, that switches between four usage modes, including tablet and laptop.

Its edge-to-edge touchscreen looks stunning. It looks as clear as the day even from the sides, especially when tuned to its peak 400 nits brightness. The screen is sharp with a native resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels.

But Dell still has not been able to find a better solution for the Web camera placement. On the original InfinityEdge Display, the camera resided at the left corner below the screen because of the lack of space at the top bezel. Now, the camera has taken up a central location but it is still below the screen, so it still takes unflattering shots of your chin and nostrils.

This camera comes with infrared functionality that should let it recognise and log in users via Windows Hello. However, this feature will only be ready in a future update. In the meantime, you can use a fingerprint sensor to log into Windows 10 without having to enter a password or PIN.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,699

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7Y75 (2.4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 615

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, Thunderbolt 3 port, microSD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 46 watt-hour

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Shrinking the screen bezel reduces the footprint of the device. The XPS 13 was often described as being almost the size of an 11-inch model, and the same could be said of the new variant. Its sleek aluminium and carbon fibre chassis weighs around 1.24kg and easily fits in most backpacks.

The downside of its slim build is the lack of ports. The XPS 13 2-in-1 comes with just two USB Type-C connectors, one of which supports the high-speed Thunderbolt 3 interface. These ports are used for everything from charging the device to data transfer. Dell includes a USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter, but working professionals would probably require a dock with extra connectors.

The included battery-powered Dell Active Pen is one of the best styluses I have tried. It feels almost like writing with actual pen and paper because the stylus was responsive, with almost imperceptible latency during use.

Performance is where the XPS may fall short for some users. Its dual-core Intel chip is a low-power fanless variant that feels adequate for tasks like Web browsing or editing documents. But it scored 2,225 in PCMark 8 Home compared to over 2,700 for a typical Core i7 ultrabook, which indicates that the XPS may be slower for multitasking or processing large spreadsheets.

Its battery life is decent enough at 6hr 12min. It is not quite as long as the more than 7hr clocked by some ultrabooks, but it fares well against the 12-inch MacBook (5hr 40min).

• Verdict: Dell has done well to replicate the award-winning XPS 13 design to the 2-in-1 form factor. The stylus is great to use while the touchscreen looks fabulous. Battery life and performance could be better, though.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Excellent but pricey 2-in-1 convertible'. Print Edition | Subscribe