I really liked Dell’s old XPS 13 2-in-1, but it’s occupied a somewhat awkward place in Dell’s lineup.
Unless you absolutely needed the 360-degree hinge, the regular XPS 13 was usually the better deal, as it offered better performance for the price. On the other hand, like many flip-floppy style laptops, the XPS 13 2-in-1 never felt quite perfect as a tablet due to the exposed keyboard and awkward shape.
This year, Dell is taking an altogether different approach for the new XPS 13 2-in-1. And by “different,” I mean it’s basically just a tablet now, albeit one that sports an optional (sighs) iPad-like keyboard case.
The ‘Folio’ case lets you prop up the display at three angles (100, 112.5, and 125 degrees). I’ve never been much a fan of these fixed-angle settings, as the angles rarely feel perfect to me, but I suppose people eventually get used to them.
Meanwhile, the also-optional stylus attaches to the top of the device. Hopefully, the magnet holding it in place is strong enough that you don’t lose your stylus a week after your purchase.
The device is powered by Intel’s 12th Gen U-series i5 and i7 chips, both sporting 10-core CPUs. While you might be worried about the performance limitations of a tablet form factor, it’s been a long time since Intel made such a big leap between generations.
If you’re coming from an older laptop, this latest generation of Intel chips — which uses an ARM-like combination of high-power and high-efficiency cores — is a substantial performance bump; multi-threaded performance has improved by up to 70 percent at the same power level compared to the 11th generation, let alone older chips.
While there were compromises with the old XPS 2-in-1 design, I do worry about the quirks introduced with the new form factor.
I personally prefer a Surface-like kickstand to a keyboard case; in addition to being more adjustable, kickstands are less likely to collapse under a bit of pressure or when used on a lap.
On the plus side, the XPS 13 2-in-1 now uses a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is obviously the best aspect ratio.
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the first time Dell has tried to make a tablet XPS; the XPS 12 was a thing back in the day. We’ll have to see whether the new XPS 13 2-in-1 is more successful, but we don’t know its availability quite yet.
Despite some reservations, I think the move to a tablet form-factor is (mostly) for the better, even if only to differentiate the 2-in-1 further from the rest of Dell’s lineup. Hopefully, the tablet is good enough — and the price low enough — that the separate keyboard and stylus don’t sting too much.
Speaking of the rest of Dell’s lineup, the regular XPS 13 — not to be confused with the more powerful XPS 13 Plus — is getting an update too. It’s in a lighter and slimmer package than ever, using a lower-wattage processor to keep thermals in check.
Still, it should offer decent performance thanks to Intel’s latest performance bump, and it supports 5G this time around, too. The new XPS 13 starts at $999 and is available today.
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