Hardware Laptops Reviews

New Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 first-look review: the most convincing convertible yet?

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

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Dell announced a swathe of worthy new products at Computex 2019, many of them aimed at gamers, but there was only one laptop for me: the updated Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. In this first-look review, I’ll explain what’s new and why it might just convince you that convertibles are the answer.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: tweaked design

If you place the old Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 next to the new edition, you’ll notice that its palmrest is longer. In fact, the whole chassis is a fraction longer, and it weighs an extra 50g too.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review
On the left, the new XPS 13 2-in-1 with its larger palmrest – on the right, the previous model

Normally, this would be a step back, but a bigger palmrest does mean, well, more space for your palms to rest when typing. (I’ll come to that shortly.)

Dell has also done some clever work to the hinges that mean you can now lift the lid with a single finger – so no need to have one hand on the lid and another on the base to keep it steady.

Finally, there’s the webcam, which has sensibly moved from below the screen to above it.

And a new display and keyboard

Further signs that Dell has given the XPS 13-in-1 some extra love in this 2019 refresh is that the keyboard and screen both benefit from upgrades.

The screen is a lovely looking panel that Dell assures me has better colour accuracy than before and should hurt your eyes less. That’s because it has Eyesafe certification, a guarantee that blue light emissions are reduced.

An Eyesafe report for one of the XPS 13’s sister laptops

It’s brighter, too, with HDR400 certification to prove it. This is a laptop that should make watching movies a real pleasure.

I haven’t yet done that, of course, but I have typed on the keyboard, and I’m impressed. Sure, there isn’t a huge amount of travel on the keys, but Dell applies the same MagLev technology found on the Dell XPS 15 to create a machine that’s genuinely enjoyable to type on.

Crucially, it also ensures the keys are big with extra space for crucial ones such as Shift and Enter. A lesson Asus could learn from.

With a nice, large touchpad, all the signs are that Dell has nailed the ergonomics here.

New processor… but is it more powerful?

One of my problems with the previous Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is that it used a slow processor. That was inevitable due to lack of space inside the machine, and meant the XPS 13 was always a better choice for people who needed their laptop to perform demanding tasks.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 thermals
A 10th Gen Intel Core processor and beefy cooling should mean a fast machine

Things look set to improve here, with the new version including a 10th Gen Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. That’s the one that uses a 10nm manufacturing process, if you’re interested in such things.

I’ll have to wait to test it before being sure that this boosts it into an all-round performer, but Intel is making big claims about the speed of its new silicon in real-world applications. We shall see.

What it may lack in power it makes up for in battery life, with Dell claiming that it lasted for 16 hours in its battery tests.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 in pics…

And you can buy it in white too…

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: rush out and buy it?

Aside from its 50g weight increase, this is a big upgrade on the current XPS 13 2-in-1. I have a couple of questions before I can recommend it, though. First, how fast is it in day-to-day use? Second, with its greater weight, how comfortable is it to hold as a tablet? Is it only usable on a table?

Finally, how much will it cost? For now I have a US price of $1,000 for the bottom model (using a Core i3, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage) but suspect we won’t get UK prices until closer to its release date of July. Notably, the lowest-spec XPS 13 2-in-1 currently costs £1,149.

With those three caveats firmly in place, I’ll say this: Dell has done an excellent job with this update. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it winning a The Big Tech Question Buy Now award when it comes through for a full review.

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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