Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 Review - Portable And Flexible Living On The Infinity Edge

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A Closer Look At The Hardware And Software Of The Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 Convertible Latop

Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 is very much in keeping with its namesake. That is to say that its design signature is quite similar to the standard XPS 13, though this version is just a few millimeters thinner in spots and a few ounces lighter. It does strike a slightly more angular pose and overall thinner profile. It is, however, still built with Dell’s beautiful 13.3-inch near-bezelless Infinity Edge display, with 400 nits brightness, in either the full HD 1080p version you see here or a 3200X1800 QHD+ version as well. 

XPS 13 2 in 1 Left Side Angle
XPS 13 2 in 1 Finger Print Scanner
XPS 13 2 in 1 Windows Hello Camera

And of course there’s the usual classic, flat, black carbon fiber composite construction and Dell's chicklet style keyboard, along with a spacious trackpad and a classy machined aluminum lid. You do now get panel brightness controls on the cursor up and down buttons, and this model also sports a Windows Hello capable camera array, though Dell notes Windows Hello for the camera will be enabled when Microsoft's the Windows 10 Creator's Update is released sometime this summer. And unfortunately, again, due to the panel’s thin bezels, Dell had no choice but to place the camera under the display, which can result in the same unflattering web cam angles as other XPS 13 machines.

XPS 13 2-In-1 Flexibility

XPS 13 2 in 1 Tent Mode

The good news is, now, thanks to this version’s fully articulating 360 degree hinges, you can flip the machine into tent mode, with the camera array then located on top. In this configuration you wouldn’t have mechanical keyboard access obviously, and you would have to rely on the Windows 10 onscreen keyboard, although fortunately the OS recognizes and re-orientates in these different modes, as you can see, on the fly. 

XPS 13 2 in 1 Folded Back

And of course there’s stand mode and full-up tablet mode, which the machine handles really well – at least for a very large 13.3-inch tablet.

XPS 13 2 in 1 Tablet Mode Portrait
XPS 13 2 in 1 Lid Closed

The right side is home to a small speaker grill, power button, microSD card slot, USB-C 3.1 port and Noble Lock slot. The left side (seen at the top of the page here) is home to a combo Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort and AC Power port, headset jack, another speaker, and Dell’s battery gauge button and LED indicator strip. And yes, since there are no full sized USB ports on the machine, that means you’ll be dongling for access to legacy USB devices and storage. Fortunately, Dell includes a USB 3 dongle with every machine. 

By now you've probably noticed that the Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 is also completely grill-free. There are no exhaust ports required on this machine and no air intake areas either, because it is completely fanless and also dead-silent as a result. 

Other than that, what's impressive about the XPS 13 2-In-1, much in the same way as the standard XPS 13, is how well this notebook 2-in-1 comes together with an ultra-premium look and feel. Its machined aluminum lid has bright, polished edges and there is very little flex in the display or keyboard deck. Its 360-degree swing hinges are very solid chunks of light-weight aluminum that hold the display, in whatever position you place it at, very firmly. The only caveat here is that it's sometimes a little tricky to open the machine because everything about it is built so tight, with equally tight tolerances. Perhaps Dell could have fashioned a notch in the front edge of the lid to give you something to grab on to when opening it, but that of course would break up the otherwise clean lines of this machine.

XPS 13 2 in 1 Keyboard and Trackpad
In terms of the typing experience, the keyboard of the XPS 13 2-In-1 is also high quality, with chicklet style key caps, ample spacing and a healthy 1.3mm of key travel for good tactility. It's also fully backlit, although keys do not lock into place, as with Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga, when converting into full tablet mode. That said, Windows 10 does a reasonably good job of detecting what mode you're in and disabling key input when the machine is positioned into a mode other than standard notebook.  

Display And Software

XPS 13 2 in 1 Tablet Mode

The XPS 13 2-In-1's display is a punchy 13.3-inch IPS panel sheathed in Corning Gorilla Glass NBT. It has 400 nits of brightness and comes in both 1920X1080 FHD and QHD+ 3200X1800 versions. Our model came in with the FHD panel and we felt it was a good balance of resolution for this class of device, that would also pay dividends in battery life, lighting up fewer pixels than its QHD+ counterpart. Regardless, the option is there if you're a pixel snob and just need "moar." In short, Dell's choice of panels in this machine is fantastic. It's bright, accurate and crispy. Next to the rare OLED notebook panels on the market, Dell again delivers one of the best laptop displays money can buy.

Finally, in terms of software setup, thankfully Dell installs very little extraneous software beyond Windows 10 with this machine, following suit with other XPS models. There's a 20GB Dropbox offer on board, and a trial version of McAfee Security (which is getting to feel like an Intel prerequisite these days), but other than those and useful utilities like Waves Maxx audio software for its sound system, there's minimal bloat. Incidentally, the two side firing speakers on the XPS 13 2-In-1 provide reasonably bold sound, though, as usual for notebook audio, it lacks low-end response and presence. They are, however, unobstructed on the thin side edges of the machine, but again, with small notebook drivers you can only expect so much.

What do you say we fire this thing up?

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