Dell XPS 12 review: does it succeed as both an ultrabook and a tablet?

Dell's new Windows 8 system is one of the first convertibles, which try to be two devices in one. However, this may not be a winning combination.

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Then there's the question of whether there's any real need to have a device do double duty as a tablet and PC. Your mileage may vary, but I can't think of many instances when it's important to have a single device do both. I'd instead opt for a Microsoft Surface tablet with one of its nice keyboard covers, because with that you get tablet portability and a reasonable keyboard as well.

Based on my experience with the XPS 12, I suspect that convertible devices have been built merely because Windows 8 features a double duty operating system designed both for tablets and PCs, not because there's a real need for them. Time will tell, but my guess is that convertibles won't become a significant market niche.

Bottom line

What you think about the XPS 12 will depend upon what you think about needing a single device to do double-duty as a tablet and a traditional PC. If you need that type of device, and can put up with using an extremely heavy tablet, then you'll find the XPS 12 to be a well-designed, solid bet, aside from some annoying trackpad problems.

However, if you're on the fence about needing a convertible, you'll want to shop around a bit more. As a tablet, it's too heavy to be of much use. And as an ultrabook, it's heavy as well, outweighing competing ultrabooks.

The upshot? Despite Dell's best intentions, the XPS 12 underlines the limitations of a Windows 8 convertible device. Based on my use of this one, I'm not convinced this form factor has a future.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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