Dell XPS 18 review

Dell XPS 18

Sony got there first with the Tap 20, but Dell’s XPS 18 is a welcome addition to this interesting new category of semi-portable mega-tablets. See Group test: what's the best all-in-one PC? 

The XPS 18 all-in-one PC is a little smaller than the Tap 20, with an 18.4-inch touch-sensitive IPS display that measures 18 mm thick. The entire unit weighs about 2.45 kg. See also: Dell XPS 10 Tablet review - basic Windows 8 RT tablet has great battery life.

That’s comparable to a typical 15-inch laptop, so it’s light enough to pick up and carry from room to room at home, even if you’re not likely to slip it into your backpack when you go away for the weekend.

It houses quite a decent PC system too. Prices range from £849 for a model with an Intel Pentium processor, to £1100 with an Intel Core i7.

We tested the middle-of-the range model, which sells for £999 with an older Ivy Bridge dual-core Core i5 running at 1.8 GHz, 8GB of memory, and 500GB hard disk – here supplemented by a 32 GB solid-state mSATA module.

The XPS 18 also includes a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a weighty iron stand that doubles up as a charging dock.

When used with that stand and keyboard the XPS 18 simply looks like a compact all-in-one desktop PC. The slimline screen panel doesn’t leave any room for an optical drive but the XPS 18 does have a pair of USB 3.0 ports so that you can add extra storage or connect a printer.

There’s also no wired ethernet, though, so networking is Wi-Fi only. It would have been nice to include HDMI input and output too, but Dell has perhaps missed a trick by not even building those ports into the dock unit.

Of course the real selling point of the Dell XPS 18 is its versatility. You can sit down and use it like a regular desktop PC, and then just pick it up the screen panel and carry it in another room for web browsing and entertainment when you’re finished.

We quickly found ourselves using it to watch the BBC News channel in the kitchen, as well as streaming films and TV programmes from LoveFilm account by night.

The XPS 18 managed a little over 3.5 hours of battery life for streaming video this way – twice the endurance of the Sony Tap 20 – so you could potentially watch an entire film or binge on a few episodes of your favourite TV programme between charges.
 
Application performance is in line with a similarly-specified laptop. The Dell XPS 18 Desktop achieved a low score of 2690 points when running the PCMark 7 benchtest although. That’s largely due to the use of a relatively slow hard disk that holds back perceived and benchmark speed.

In practice, the XPS 18 coped easily with web browsing and running Microsoft Office, and its 8GB of memory means that it can also handle a spot of photo- or video editing too. And while the SSD module doesn’t help much with the PCMark 7 tests, it does ensure that the XPS 18 feels snappy and responsive, taking 10 seconds to restart from hibernation into the Windows 8 Start screen, and waking from sleep in a snap of your fingers.

We were also pleased to see that the XPS 18 never became more than mildly warm during several days of testing, so there should be no problems with overheating.

Its graphics performance was disappointing. The integrated HD Graphics 4000 processor barely managed 15 fps, even running Batman: Arkham at the lowest quality settings and limited to 1280 x 720 resolution. Gaming action will probably be restricted to Angry Birds and other family fare.

Continue reading on the next page for our initial Dell XPS 18 hands-on review.

By Chris Martin

Dell XPS 18 all-in-one PC

Dell's latest Windows 8 product is the XPS 18, an all-in-one PC which doubles as a tablet. Find out more in our Dell XPS 18 hands-on review.

The Dell XPS 18 is one of emerging new category of PC. It's an all-in-one Windows 8 machine which sits on a heavy metal stand and comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse. However, unplug any attached cables and you can simple pick it up off its stand and take it around the house – effectively turning into a tablet, albeit a large one.

One of the Dell's rivals is Sony's Vaio Tap 20, but at over 5kg in weight, we found it a bit too heavy and bulky to easily move around. In comparison, the Dell XPS 18 weighs just over 2kg making it a more attractive offer.

We were able to just about use it on our lap, holding it up with one hand and gesturing around Windows 8 with the other. It is quite a strange experience using an 18in tablet on your lap though.

A far better way of using the tablet is by flipping out two kickstand feet which nicely props the Dell XPS 18 upright on a flat surface. These can also support the device up at a shallower angle, although this means the XPS 18 is upside-down and the home button is at the top.

Dell XPS 18 upright

It's a versatile piece of kit and we can see the advantage of being able to move a machine like this around the house for various different uses. Families, for example, could use the Dell XPS 18 as a work PC in the office where the stand, keyboard and mouse reside, but easily cart it into the lounge for kids to play with or watch a film on in any other room in the house.

The question is does anyone want a piece of kit that tries to do everything and be multiple things in one? We're not sure so let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Price is probably the biggest reason to opt for such a thing, since a decent Windows 8 all-in-one and a separate tablet is almost definitely going to amount to more than the XPS 18's starting price of £849. But will that basic starter model deliver what's required?

Dell XPS 18 Windows 8 tablet

Dell XPS 18: Specs

The basic model will get you an Intel Pentium dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. The XPS 18 sample we took a look at delivered smooth performance with an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM.

Other specifications are available from a hybrid hard drive setup with a 500GB drive combined with a 32GB SSD, a lone 256GB SSD and up to a Core i7 processor. You'll have a choice of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. The highest specification XPS 18 will set you back £1,099.

The 18.4in touchscreen is coated in durable Gorilla Glass and has a full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080). This is higher than the Sony Tap 20 and we found it to be responsive, vibrant and offering good viewing angles.

Dell XPS 18 kick stand and ports

Ports are a little limited with just two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot which is hidden under a flap on the backside of the device.

It's a shame the USB ports are both on the left side and positioned so closely together. There's also a headphone socket, stereo speakers, a volume rocker and a 0.9Mp webcam.

We haven't been able to test it out yet, but Dell claims the XPS 18 offers a battery life of up to five hours.

That's significantly longer than the Sony VAIO Tap 20 which didn't even last us two hours.
The Dell XPS 18 is set to launch on 16 April 2013 and we'll have a full review for you soon so keep a look out.

Verdict:

The Dell XPS seems like a versatile all-in-one PC and table in one device. But we're not sure if anyone wants one. Stay tuned for our full review.

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Dell XPS 18: Specs

  • 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5-3337U
  • 18.4-inch (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500 GB HDD plus 32 GB mSATA SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • SDXC/xD/MS Pro card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 1280 x 720 webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket
  • 69 Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 464 x 284 x 18 mm
  • 2.45 kg
  • 1.8 GHz Intel Core i5-3337U
  • 18.4-inch (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • 8 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500 GB HDD plus 32 GB mSATA SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • SDXC/xD/MS Pro card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 1280 x 720 webcam with built-in mic
  • headphone socket
  • 69 Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 464 x 284 x 18 mm
  • 2.45 kg

OUR VERDICT

We were surprised how quickly we became used to having a device like the XPS 18 that could follow us from room to room. Of course, you could get a 15-inch laptop for half the price – but that wouldn’t have such a large and attractive HD display. That portability is, admittedly, a bit of a luxury – but it’s a luxury that you could learn to take for granted.

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