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Dell XPS Duo 12 - Connectivity, Usability and Tablet

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Dell XPS 12 - Connectivity and Webcam

The XPS 12 isn’t particularly generous on its connectivity, thanks largely to its slim, tapering lines. However, it does pack in most of the essentials. On the left-hand side there's a rotation lock button, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a spring-loaded power slider, a volume rocker and a stereo speaker. The right-hand side, meanwhile, houses a second stereo speaker, battery indicator button with five white LEDs, twin USB 3.0 ports and a mini DisplayPort.

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As you might have noticed, the big absentee here is an SD card reader. Even if Dell couldn’t have fitted a full-size one, a microSD reader would have been better than nothing. We also feel that on a consumer laptop, it’s nice to have an HDMI option in addition to DisplayPort. Of course this can be achieved using an adapter, however you won't find one included in the box.

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On the wireless side of things, the Dell XPS 12 comes with the usual Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 4.0 combo, with no option for mobile broadband. The front-facing webcam captures HD video but, as usual, doesn’t provide amazing quality. That said, it's perfectly adequate for video chatting, which is after all its primary function.

Dell XPS 12 - Keyboard and Typing

The XPS 12's keyboard is, if anything, even better than the already good effort on the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook. Layout is flawless, while keys are well-spaced too. Just like Lenovo’s laptop keyboards, keys are slightly concave, though they don’t have the classic Lenovo ‘smile’ shape.

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They also offer good feedback, with a decent amount of travel and reasonably firm click, and for typing in the dark there are two levels of white LED backlighting. While the overall typing experience on the Dell XPS 12 doesn’t quite match the mighty Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, it holds its own against the best of the rest.

Dell XPS 12 - Touchpad

Again, the large, glass touchpad will be familiar to anyone who has seen one of the other high-end XPS models. It’s finished in smooth matt black which matches its soft-touch surroundings nicely, also making it lovely under the finger. It’s not quite as responsive as most of the touchpads we've encountered recently, but a quick tweak of the settings mostly resolves things.

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As with most premium Ultrabooks and convertibles these days, the touchpad’s buttons are integrated into the pad’s surface. We've often found this can be a little hit and miss, however Dell’s implementation is flawless with great action on each button and no dead zone whatsoever.

Dell XPS 12 - Tablet and Touch

Like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the convertible XPS 12 is a bit big and heavy in its tablet mode, and for this reason it’s best to view it as a laptop first and a tablet second. However, if you can rest it on a surface – such as your lap or a table – then it’s a joy to use. The soft-touch back in tablet mode provides a comfy grip, while the rounded edges mean it doesn’t become too painful on the fingers.

The Dell XPS 12’s unique flip-screen approach doesn’t just lend itself well to being used as a tablet either. If you’re sitting across from someone at a table using this XPS in ‘laptop mode’, you can just flip the screen to show them what you’re working on.Dell XPS Duo 12

Like all high-end convertibles, the XPS 12 supports 10-finger touch, which is nice for local multiplayer touch gaming. Ironically, its high 1,920 x 1,080 screen resolution makes many elements in Windows 8’s ‘classic’ desktop mode too small to press with complete assurance, but then that part of Win 8 wasn’t really designed for touch anyway. Still, with many rivals offering digitizer stylus input, this is one area where the 12 falls a little short.


April 3, 2013, 11:21 pm

Really good review thanks, but curious as you why you only give 8/10 when the negatives are so few and your review is extremely positive?


April 3, 2013, 11:31 pm

I've found the vaio duo to be a better product, more versatile though not without it's foibles, the keyboard is a bit fussy about whether it will register your press or not...
Still, I think it's a lot more versatile than this thing.


April 6, 2013, 6:41 pm

8/10 - This beggars belief. Is that 8/10 for a tablet? As far as I can see the weight and form factor are awful compared to an Amazon, Samsung or Apple tablet. Or is that 8/10 for a laptop? Because the specs are equally awful compared to a comparatively priced Dell, Thinkpad or Macbook laptop. Or is that 8/10 for a new product segment? If so could you please describe this new product segment, because I can't for the life of me see any such gap in the market.

This site needs to start calling a spade a spade - and this is a turkey.


October 4, 2013, 2:15 am

For me, and the way I use computer-ish things - or the way I'd want to use a combo - the only thing it's missing is a pressure-sensitive stylus. But does that mean, trivially that Dell just didn't bother to include one, and I could get one elsewhere and maybe a driver, and it would work? Or does it mean, frustratingly, that the XPS-12 could NOT be made to support a third-party stylus, regardless of installed drivers or other software?

Will MacCormac

April 10, 2014, 3:39 pm

Dell = Rubbish service! my order never arrived! XPS 12 was available on the system when I ordered, but apparently it wasn't, according to Dell. Order acknowledged but no further email or call, I had to chase it myself. Order from a company that values customers.

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