When I reviewed the Dell XPS 13, I called it the best Windows laptop so far. But when I got the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 to test out, I thought the same would hold true for the new model but sadly it’s not as good as the standard XPS 13.

Design & Hardware

Dell has gotten better in their design and quality over the past few years and the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is no exception. It looks great and has a solid and premium feel. The outside is made from metal and the model I tested out was in Silver.

The model I tested out had a 13-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×1080 but it can be optioned with a screen with a 3200×1800. The display on the XPS 13 2-in-1 is called an Infinity Edge display which has virtually no bezels.

The display looks good from all angles but if quality matters most to you, then I would recommend optioning up for the higher-resolution screen. The area around the keyboard is made from carbon fibre and has soft-touch finish.

Since bezels are so thin on the XPS 13 2-in-1, Dell decided to move the placement of the webcam to the center, just below the display. At least it’s not as weird of a placement as on the standard XPS 13. The webcam on the XPS 13 2-in-1 has support for Window Hello login, which allows you to login using you face but that support is coming in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update (which as of this writing, isn’t available yet). But for now, you can login into the laptop with the fingerprint sensor, located to the right of the trackpad.

The center placement camera is also helpful, because this model is a 2-in-1 design, meaning it can go from a traditional laptop style to bending back the screen halfway or all the way like a tablet.

Inside the XPS 13 2-in-1, you’ll find a Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The use of the Kaby Lake Y-series processors means that it’s smaller and can be used in laptops without the need for a fan.

As for ports, on the left side, you’ll find a USB Type-C port (which also doubles as the charging port), a headphone jack, a battery life indicator and a speaker grill. On the right side, you’ll find a Kensington Lock, another USB Type-C port, a microSD card slot, the power button and another speaker grill. Since the XPS 13 2-in-1 only has USB Type-C ports and no standard USB-A ports, Dell includes a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter with every XPS 13 2-in-1 purchase at no additional cost.

Dell also offers a whole host of different USB Type-C adapters and accessories including a USB Type-C to HDMi, a USB Type-C hub, the Dell Active Stylus and a battery bank.

The USB Type-C to Type-A adapter that’s included.

When watching videos in the standard laptop mode, the speakers sounded fine but I put the computer in the halfway stand mode, the speakers sounded muffled and made it hard to hear anything.

One thing that I had trouble with was the fact that it was difficult to open the laptop when it was closed, there is no proper indent to help you lift the lid up. Also, since the power button is the side, it was kind of small and it hard to press, sometimes it may need another push to work.

The battery is 46 Whr and Dell claims you can get up to 15 hours of battery life but in my testing, I was able to get about 8-9 hours while browsing, watching Netflix and drawing with the Dell Active Stylus.

Since this is a 2-in-1 machine, you have the option of getting the Dell Active Stylus, which you can then use with features like Windows Ink. It also comes with Bamboo Paper pre-installed. I’m someone who like to draw a lot and I loved drawing on the Asus Transformer 3 Pro and when I was given the chance to review the XPS 13 2-in-1 with a stylus, I immediately said yes. By adding the Stylus, it can make the XPS 13 2-in-1 into a true Surface Pro competitor.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 weighs just about 2.7lbs, which makes it easy to carry around. The actual keyboard on the XPS 13 2-in-1 is great to type on and is backlit.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 starts at $1,499 CAD and is available from Dell.ca, BestBuy.ca.

Software

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1  is running Windows 10, which Microsoft says it the best version of Windows yet. Which I do agree with Microsoft, they have made major improvements to their OS. Windows 10 takes the best of Windows 7 and 8.

Even though the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1  is running Windows 10 Pro, it should be noted that you shouldn’t be using it for super heavy tasks, that’s where a more beefier Windows laptop or desktop will come in handy. In my testing, when I was using the device, there was a lot of fan noise when even just running the Microsoft Edge browser or while idle.

Just like in Windows 8, Windows 10 can be used with devices with and without touchscreens. And unlike Android, there are lots of Windows 10 apps that work well on a tablet. Sure, there might not be as many apps as on Android or iOS but there are alternatives and you can easily install apps that are not on the Windows store.

I was able to easily multi-task on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1  and the tablet easily kept up. In Windows 10, there’s even a tablet mode which will bring up the “Modern/Metro UI” that was introduced in Windows 8. And you can easily switch between Tablet mode and the traditional Windows 10 desktop with one click.

Most of the other apps you’ll find pre-installed on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 are standard with any Windows 10 PC.

One of my favourite features of Windows 10, is Windows Ink, and especially since the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has a touchscreen, it makes it a lot of fun to draw on with the Dell Active Stylus.

One of the sketches I made on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 using the Dell Active Stylus.

Final Thoughts

Dell has come along way, before their laptops used to be plastic and feel very cheap. But now their hardware is the best in class. However, I wouldn’t say that the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is as good as the standard XPS 13, but it’s definitely almost as good.

If the power button was placed better and if it had one or two more USB Type-C ports, then it would have made the XPS 13 2-in-1, even better.

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Beautiful display
  • Great keyboard
  • Responsive trackpad

Cons

  • Small power button with awkward placement
  • Difficult to open
  • Limited ports

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