- Most compact 2-in-1 with 13-inch screen;
- Comfortable keyboard
- Vibrant InfinityEdge display
- Impressive audio
- Dynamic Power Mode boosts speed when you need it
- Battery life isn’t as long as on other 2-in-1s
- Camera is still beneath the display
- Intel Core U machines are faster
The XPS 13 2-in-1 combines portability, comfort and plenty of power in a sleek, fanless design, but we wish the battery lasted longer.
The regular XPS 13 has been our favorite consumer laptop for more than two years, because of its luxuriously lightweight chassis, gorgeous InfinityEdge display and long battery life. Now, Dell has taken all the slim carbon fiber-goodness from its flagship ultrabook and applied it to a brand new hybrid, which goes on sale Jan. 5 on Dell.com and at Best Buy online.
Available this week for a starting price of $999, the XPS 13 2-in-1 isn’t just a refresh of its clamshell brother; it’s a machine with a distinct design and features that make it a mostly satisfying convertible. The chassis is thinner than the one on the XPS 13 clamshell, which makes it easier to use as a tablet. And this is a totally fanless affair, so you can curl up with an episode of Black Mirror and not have to worry about getting distracted by noise.
Plus, for the first time, Dell is introducing its new Dynamic Power Mode technology on a laptop, which scales up the clock speed when you need more performance. And that’s important, given that this system uses an Intel Y Series Kaby Lake processor (formerly known as Core M), instead of the typically more robust U Series. You do get fewer ports than on the regular XPS 13, and the battery life could be longer, but overall, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is a remarkable hybrid.
Design: Luxuriously svelte
From across the room, you could be forgiven for mistaking the XPS 13 2-in-1 for the regular model. And that’s a good thing. You still get a sturdy machined-aluminum cover and bottom with a soft, carbon-fiber deck on the inside, which not only stays cool to the touch but makes typing comfy. But Dell added two steel hinges wrapped in aluminum while slimming down the design. I do wish the lid were easier to open, though; there’s no lip on the front.
This 2-in-1 measures just 0.32 to 0.54 inches thick, compared to 0.33 to 0.6 inches for the more traditional XPS 13. I appreciated the difference on a tabletop, and even more when I held both systems.
It made a big difference that its footprint was smaller than competing convertibles’, as I didn’t have to worry about someone reclining too far.
The reduced thickness comes in handy when you’re using the XPS 13 2-in-1 in tablet mode. In comparison, the Lenovo Yoga 910 is 0.56 inches thick and the HP Spectre x360 is 0.54 inches thick, but the Acer Spin’s thickness is only 0.4 inches.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 is quite light, weighing 2.7 pounds. That’s less than the touch version of the regular XPS 13 (2.9 pounds) and lighter than the HP Spectre x360 (2.8 pounds) and the Lenovo Yoga 910 (3.04 pounds). The biggest difference between this convertible XPS 13 and the HP and Lenovo models is how much smaller its footprint is from front to back. Those extra couple of inches made a big difference during my bus commute home, as I didn’t have to worry about the person sitting in front of me reclining too far.
To get this 2-in-1 so thin and light, Dell had to make some trade-offs. You won’t find a full-size USB port or an SD card slot, but you will find a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB Type-C port and a microSD card slot. Fortunately, Dell is also including a USB-C to USB-A adapter, which will make it easier to connect phones and other devices; Apple doesn’t do that with its MacBook or MacBook Pro.
For now, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is available in silver, but I’m hoping for a rose-gold option and other colors soon.
|CPU||1.2-GHz Core i5-7Y54|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|RAM Upgradable to||16GB|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB SSD|