XPS 12 Two Week Update

For those still interested in what I think of the Dell XPS 12 two weeks in (see here for the two-day report), a few quick additional notes:

* I still very much like it, generally. Good screen, good keyboard, quick responsiveness, etc, with the trackpad (now with updated drivers and configured to my personal preferences) perfectly functional although still not the absolute joy the Apple trackpads are. However, if you are not totally into the tank for Apple (or at least its trackpads), in the realm of Win8 ultrabooks, this is a fine little machine.

* I’m finding uses for the machine’s “tablet mode,” in particular using it to show off pictures and media to folks in a less awkward form factor than “shove the laptop at someone.” I also do find the tablet mode comfortable and easy to use when all I’m doing is reading. I understand some people think the 9:16 ratio in portrait mode is too tall for comfortable reading, but I’m not one of those people. Likewise, it’s heavier than an iPad or other tablets, but as noted before I don’t find myself holding or using it like other tablets, so I don’t really notice the weight as a drawback. Also, the two ridges on the bottom of the computer (there to be  “feet” for the computer and to allow airflow for vents) help to comfortably cradle it on my leg when I have it in portrait mode. I use the XPS 12 in tablet mode enough that I find myself using my other tablets less, which I think says something.

* One thing the XPS falls down on with its flippy screen thing is that when I turn the screen all the way around in laptop mode, it doesn’t rotate the screen, so the images are upside down. It’s not supposed to do that; it’s supposed to automatically flip. I suspect a future update will fix this if it’s not just me not figuring out something.

* Win8’s user interface continues to be less than useful, but I’m finding it slightly less annoying on a laptop/tablet than on a desktop; either that or I’m simply getting used to it.

So in all, works well and I’m happy with my purchase.

That said, I’ve been using it exclusively at home to this point; the real acid test for this machine comes six weeks from now when I take it on the road with me for the better part of a month on my book tour. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about it at the end of that trip. I will of course let you all know.

15 Comments on “XPS 12 Two Week Update”

  1. I’ve been using Windows 8 for about 3 weeks now on the desktop, and here are some of the things I’ve found to make life a little better:

    -Learn to use keyboard shortcuts. Alt-F4 closes any program, including “Modern” (ie. tablet style) ones. Windows-D gets to the desktop quickly. Windows-X brings up a handy menu with computer management options. Windows-Q brings up the Search bar.

    -Much like in Windows Vista/7, you can hit the Windows key to bring up the start screen and immediately start typing the name of a program. This is INFINITELY better than searching through tiles for the thing that you want!

    -Don’t like the new Modern programs for playing movies/music? Windows Media Player is still there, and you can make it the default program by right-clicking a song/video and choosing “Open With” then “Choose default program…”

    So far those things have helped me deal with the changes to the UI. All of the under-the-hood additions have been well worth the upgrade for me, especially the much improved file copying/moving for large files!

  2. I have been thinking a chromebook to replace the laptop that is my secondary machine – mostly for surfing or movies. I can get a Samsung Tab 10″ for about the same money. Anyone have an opinion about advantages/disadvantages between the two?

  3. I’m still getting used to windows 7. Blech

    Sounds like windows 8 is more intuitive.

  4. Patrick V:

    I’m typically using it at home and plugged in so I haven’t tested it. That will be one of the things I’ll be looking at one the road.

  5. Frankly – why not just get a cheap laptop and run Chrome on it? It’s the same thing – and at least you’ll have Windows if you actually want to do more than Web surf or respond to e- mails….

  6. Maybe Windows 8 is more intuitive for a tablet, Farley – I’m not sure how it would behave as a laptop OS. I one tried using a Netbook running Android OS – it was horribly counterintuitive, as horrible as I imagine running IOS on a desk/laptop would be.

  7. Scalzi – I forget, did you get the Core i5 or i7 one? And how much RAM?

    While I remain iffy about the viability of Win8 as a laptop OS, I feel like I should at least take a look at it before getting a Macbook as my main laptop. Right now I’ve got a two-three year old 13″ Toshiba Core 2 Duo as my main laptop, and it’s a pig – poor battery life, crappy Intel graphics (3000 series, I think), 4 GB RAM and heavy given how small it is. It’s basically a glorified Netbook – in fact, I’d swear Tammy’s multicore Acer netbook is more a more powerful machine.

  8. Not to get too off-topic, but if you haven’t tried out a Chromebook, it is so much more than web surfing and emails. No, you are not going to put Office on it, but I know more than a few people who now use it as their sole machine. How do they make it work? All of the many, many Google Apps for Education.

  9. Thanks everyone for your input. Thank you John for letting me tap your audience.
    Timeliebe – if I get a laptop I will have it dual boot with linux like I do now. I tried installing chrome a few months ago & couldn’t get it to work but that was an early version and a half-hearted attempt.

  10. I’ve been using an XPS 12 for almost two months now. It’s a pretty spiffy laptop, but I don’t really like the tablet mode. The lump that serves as vent is in just the wrong place for hands of my size, and if I use it for anything computationally intensive – real-time game, movie – it blows hot air at me. My company got it for me, but if I were buying for myself I’d get a plain laptop with similar specs and a lower price. It has not replaced my iPad.

    It doesn’t reorient the screen properly in the laptop configuration because, in a moment of truly great architectural awareness, they put the tilt sensor in the keyboard half. Pick it up and hold the keyboard vertically for a moment to get it to shift.

  11. Hey, thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’m hesitating between the xps 12 and the xps 13 and your review is one of the first I read with feedback from someone who actually uses the laptop. Once you get feedback on the batteries, please, share :)

  12. I placed my order for the XPS 12 two weeks ago and its arriving tomorrow. With all the reviews that I have read, seems like the best choice out there. Yes you maybe paying a little more, but for those who have owned an XPS before know that the quality, finish, feel and look of XPS computers cannot compare to any other brand and type. The money is the in quality of this well made laptops and dell is very well aware of that – and so are those who have owned one.

    Suffice to say, I am very much looking forward to the arrival of this premium ultrabook -let me know if you have any questions.

  13. I was also tossing between the XPS 12 and XPS 13. My final choice was the XPS 12 only because with the introduction of windows 8 on both the XPS 12 and XPS 13, it made sense that I have a touch screen vs no touch. If i am going to be spending $1000 + for a laptop, I want my to be sure I am getting the best value and up to date technology out there. Windows 8 was designed with the intent of being intuitive and touch based and with the new computers now offering touch screen it only made sense to go for the XPS 12. Had the XPS 13 offered touch capabilities, then that would have been my choice.

  14. How’s that six-week update coming? Thanks for good info at the two-week mark, very interested to see your opinion after further use.

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