The article on my new Dell XPS 12 laptop appears to have had received positive results from Google’s new search algorithm because traffic to the post has increased significantly in the last month along with a few emails and comments.
It’s been six months since I wrote the article so I thought I’d provide an update.
To remind readers, the Dell XPS 12 is a ‘convertible ultrabook’, which means it’s a Windows 8 laptop with a screen that swivels around to simulate a tablet PC.
Six months on, and the laptop is still very fast. It boots up in about five seconds from completely switched off and about three seconds from standby. iPad owners will scoff that their tablet switches on immediately, however, iPads take about a minute to switch on from a totally ‘off’ state, and ‘totally off’ is the most power efficient state to be in.
Searching through ten years’ worth of email, across several offline Outlook files (PSTs) is almost instant. Switching between apps is also instant. In fact I haven’t found anything that produces a significant lag, and I have monthly spreadsheets of over 28Mb that I need to manipulate.
I think the biggest factor in the laptop is the solid state hard drive which most new laptops have. Solid state drives are faster than traditional ones because there are no moving parts, and this also means they consume less power.
I originally selected the XPS was because I wanted to combine my paper notepad and laptop into one. And I thought the touch screen would do this.
The reality is that while the touch screen is excellent, it’s not a substitute for paper. It’s almost impossible to write, or draw, on the touch screen because if you rest your wrist on the screen while using a stylus, the screen thinks your wrist is also trying to write or draw.
Nevertheless, the touch screen is much better to use for navigation than I first thought. I use it for selecting icons and applications so much that when I hook the laptop up to an external monitor, I find myself naturally pressing the monitor screen by mistake. It makes you realise how inefficient a mouse is.
Using the Windows home screen with a touch screen feels very natural. I don’t understand how people without a touch screen use Windows 8, because it feels slower, too clunky and unobvious with a mouse. I don’t miss the Windows menu any more, but I read articles condemning Microsoft that it’s been removed. I guess those users don’t have a touch screen.
With touch screen, I’ve started using OneNote more. In fact, I sometimes use OneNote, with the keyboard, on the laptop instead of taking my paper notepad around.
Back to the XPS 12 instead of Windows 8, major gripes are the video connector which is now an Apple mini-DisplayPort which I’ve forgotten to pack with me on a couple of occasions for presentations. The min-DisplayPort adapters cost £25 each, so I have one at work and one in my laptop bag (just in case I forget it) – £50 for hooking up a laptop to an external display seems expensive though.
Another adapter that’s annoying is the power cable. I’ve had two previous Dells, so I have a power adapter at home, at work and in my laptop bag. But the XPS 12 uses a new type of connector, so I had to buy a new one for work and one for my laptop bag – each one is £20 (they were £30 when I first got the laptop). This means I still have one power block without a connector and luckily I’ve only been caught without a converter once.
My final gripe is that the laptop is quite heavy. I cycle to work and when I have to carry my laptop to or from the office, it’s an unwelcome 1.5kg.
The battery is much better than all previous laptops. I think it’s mainly thanks to the solid state hard drive. I can eek out about 4.5 hours by turning Wifi off, the screen brightness down and so on. It’s enough for a full flight to New York (taking into account you can’t use it during take-off and landing and probably won’t use it during the meal).
The touch screen really comes into its own on flights because I’ve seen peoples’ screens broken when the passenger in front leans their seat back and compresses the screen of the passenger behind in the alcove where the meal tray is stored. So on all flights I use the XPS in laptop mode.
In summary I’m delighted with the laptop because it’s fast and the battery is great. I haven’t quite discarded my paper notepad yet, although I use it less and work on OneNote more. Yes the flip screen is a bit gimmicky but the touch screen makes Windows 8 more usable, and less accident prone on flights.