Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Do­minic Pre­ston

Dell has dou­bled down on its suc­cess­ful XPS lap­top line-up this year, us­ing CES 2018 to launch not only a re­vamped ver­sion of the ev­er­pop­u­lar XPS 13, but also a brand-new XPS 15 2-in-1.

There’s a lot more to the new con­vert­ible than just a larger screen size though. It also boasts an im­pres­sively slim pro­file, a new ‘Mag-Lev’ key­board de­sign, and is one of the first lap­tops to mar­ket boast­ing the new In­tel Core pro­ces­sor with in­te­grated Radeon graph­ics.

Price

As with just about ev­ery­thing an­nounced at CES, we don’t have a firm re­lease date and pric­ing de­tails, but

Dell has an­nounced some de­tails of the US launch at least. The XPS 15 2-in-1 will go in sale in the US in April, with prices start­ing from $1,299 (around £935), though we don’t know yet just how much it will cost to buy a top spec model. At the time of writ­ing there was no news on when it will be re­leased in the UK yet.

De­sign

The first thing you no­tice about the XPS 15 2-in-1 is that it’s im­pres­sively light and slim for its size. Dell claims it’s the small­est and thinnest 15.6in 2-in-1 around, and while we haven’t per­son­ally mea­sured them all to check, we can be­lieve it (not least be­cause there aren’t all that many 2-in-1s at this size, but there you go).

Still, make no mis­take, this is not an ul­tra­portable ma­chine. It’s light for its size, but still weighs a good chunk more than its smaller XPS 13 2-in-1 sib­ling, and this isn’t the sort of de­vice you’d want to carry around with you ev­ery­where you go.

Part of the re­duced form fac­tor is down to the bezel-less In­fin­i­tyEdge touch­screen dis­play, which leaves as lit­tle wasted space as pos­si­ble (ex­cept a chunk at the bot­tom), but the big­gest changes are to the main chas­sis, where Dell has saved space thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of the In­tel-AMD chip, and a new ‘Mag-Lev’ key­board de­sign. The mech­a­nism uses op­pos­ing mag­nets un­der­neath the keys, rather than switches or mem­branes, with the in­ten­tion of mak­ing the keys feel deeper than their 0.7mm travel sug­gests.

It’s a de­sign destined to prove di­vi­sive, feel­ing not too dis­sim­i­lar to Ap­ple’s but­ter­fly key­board. It’s far from the worst key­board around, but it’s not the

best ei­ther – it suf­fers from a di­rect com­par­i­son to the keys on the new XPS 13, which of­fers one of the bet­ter key­boards around, leav­ing us won­der­ing if the frac­tional re­duc­tion in weight and depth re­ally jus­ti­fies the Mag-Lev mech­a­nism.

Fi­nally, ports – as you’d ex­pect with a slimmed down de­sign, this is USB Type-C only, but you get four of them (in­clud­ing two with Thun­der­bolt 3 sup­port), along with a head­phone jack and mi­croSD card slot.

The model we tested boasted a sil­ver alu­minium cas­ing with a black car­bon fi­bre in­te­rior, and Dell hasn’t an­nounced plans for any other colour op­tions. Still, the one avail­able fin­ish looks slick and mod­ern, and will feel fa­mil­iar to any­one who’s used any re­cent XPS lap­top.

Hard­ware

If the Mag-Lev key­board is one half of the XPS 15 2-in1’s com­pact body, the other is the brand-new In­tel Core Kaby Lake chip with a built-in Radeon Vega GPU.

The chip – the first part­ner­ship be­tween In­tel and AMD in decades – prom­ises the sort of per­for­mance you’d nor­mally ex­pect from a dis­crete graph­ics card with­out hav­ing to take up all that space. That means thin­ner, lighter lap­tops that still have the nec­es­sary power for gam­ing or, more likely in the case, de­mand­ing cre­ative work. The chips are just 1.7mm thin and also in­clude 4GB of HBM2 RAM and power op­ti­miza­tions – though Dell hasn’t an­nounced any es­ti­mates for the XPS 15 2-in-1’s bat­tery life. Con­fig­u­ra­tion op­tions in­clude a Core i5 or i7, 8GB or 16GB RAM, 128GB to 1TB SSD stor­age, and the op­tion of ei­ther a 1080p or 4K dis­play. The model we tested in­cluded the 4K op­tion, which seemed crisp and bright, with a great range of colour re­pro­duc­tion.

There’s also sup­port for Dell’s Ac­tive Pen sty­lus (sold sep­a­rately) ce­ment­ing that this is a de­vice that has pro­fes­sional cre­atives in mind, who might ben­e­fit most from the com­bi­na­tion of pro­cess­ing power, con­vert­ible form fac­tor and rel­a­tively por­ta­ble de­sign.

Ver­dict

We’re not con­vinced by the Mag-Lev key­board, and haven’t yet been able to fully test the new In­tel-AMD chip, but the XPS 15 2-in-1 prom­ises a lot of power in a sleek de­sign. A big-screen con­vert­ible still feels like an un­de­ni­ably niche prod­uct, but for the right user, Dell’s de­sign could be hard to beat.

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