Dell XPS 12 (2016) Review: Core m-Powered 2-in-1 Laptop Convertible

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Summary and Conclusion

Dell's XPS 12 is a strong performer given its sleek form factor. Intel's Skylake platform deserves much of the credit here, and when paired with 8GB of RAM and a speedy SSD, you've got a machine that's equally potent as an entertainment device or a mobile office-productivity rig. Though priced similarly to Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, the base $999 unit comes with a keyboard folio, whereas Microsoft charges an additional $130 for its Type Cover attachment. All told, the XPS 12 falls somewhere in between the Core m3 and least expensive Core i5-based Surface Pro 4, when the keyboard's price is factored into the equation.

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concludeUltimately, the XPS 12 is a solid device with good performance. For common, everyday tasks -- which is how most people would use this type of machine -- it's great. We rarely felt any lag with its 8GB of RAM configuration. High-def video, light-duty gaming, and chugging through Office documents was no problem, and it functioned well both in tablet mode and while docked as a laptop. Speaking of the latter, the bundled keyboard folio was easy to connect, and the spacious keyboard and trackpad made us forget occasionally that we were actually working on a tablet.

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2-in-1 devices have come a long way. While they used to exemplify compromise, the XPS 12 exemplifies consolidation at its finest. This single product can serve two purposes without giving up much on either end. Sure, the battery life suffers slightly due to its super slim design, but 6.5+ hours on a charge will be enough for most. The 12.5-inch panel is responsive and gorgeous, and while our test unit was equipped with a 1080p display, a 4K Ultra HD model is available as well. 

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Those looking to doodle, draw, or take notes via stylus should spring for Dell's $49 Active Pen. It's a great tool, and we found ourselves drawn to using it even more than we had originally expected. Dell thoughtfully includes a cloth holding slot on its keyboard folio to keep it safe as well, which is an appreciated touch. We'd prefer the keyboard folio to be a bit lighter and it would be nice to see Dell's optional thin keyboard with the fully adjustable kickstand as more of a standard option to choose from, rather than an up-sell. Minor quibbles aside, there's a lot to like about Dell's new XPS 12.

 hot not 
  • Gorgeous display
  • Potent and thin
  • Bundled keyboard folio
  • 8GB RAM
  • Modest battery life
  • $49 Active Pen not included
  • Standard keyboard folio has one position

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