The Dell XPS12 – Nice Idea, Great Spec, Poor Tablet Mode
It’s always exciting to get a new laptop and see how things have moved on since you last got one. You just hope you are not going to be disappointed.

We recently took delivery of one of the new XPS-12s from Dell. The overall design has been out for a year or so, but the new one has the 4th generation i7 processor (Haswell) which boasts much longer battery life.

All in all, it’s a neat little machine. The one big drawback is the flip-over touchscreen which is its trademark gimmick.

The battery life is well up over 7 or 8 hours, especially with the screen dimmed. The SSD ‘hard drive’ is a huge 512GB and it’s quite lightweight.

But back to that flip screen -Aaaaaaggggghhhhh!

Surprisingly, its not the construction of it that’s the problem, which surprised me – that’s actually quite sturdy. It’s how the software handles the touchscreen that’s the problem. Maybe it’s because I’m used to an iPad, but this ain’t no Apple device. The key feature when using a tablet is that when you need to enter text, such as a user name and password on a web page, you are going to need an on screen keyboard. Mine has an intermittent problem where the keyboard doesn’t appear when the cursor is on a text field. Sometimes you need to select a drop down box or something – but also intermittently the touch sometimes ‘ignores’ your key presses in that area of the screen. You can’t do the equivalent of a right mouse click (so no spelling correction suggestions) and I still haven’t worked out how to click and drag things. Sometimes you need to stab the link you’re after a dozen times to convince it you really do want to go there. Frequently I end up flipping the top back over so I can use the keyboard – so what’s the point in that?

There’s a couple of other little problems with it in normal laptop mode, which aren’t mission critical but you would expect more of a machine costing £1000 + VAT. There is no HDMI or VGA so you need an adapter to output to a projector or screen – but I was expecting that – although you don’t get the adapter with it and Dell don’t sell them. The problem is that sometimes with the VGA adapter it just stops working and you have to reboot. I’ve also found that sometimes from sleep mode it wakes up but doesn’t turn the screen on. You have to sleep and wake it again to get it in to action.

So – if it wasn’t trying to be clever then it would get 9/10. As it is with the poor tablet performance it gets a lousy 5/10 for me. I’d return it if I could, but they claim it’s not faulty so I’m stuck with it. Hopefully I’ll save you from the same fate.