Dell XPS 12 six month review

Dell XPS 12 - with only 2 USB ports, you'll need a hub
Dell XPS 12 – with only 2 USB ports, you’ll need a hub

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.

5 thoughts on “Dell XPS 12 six month review

    1. Thanks for the question. Yes you can use the bamboo style pen – I got a free one from a conference.

      The issue on the XPS12 is that you can’t rest your wrist on the screen while ‘writing’ or the screen will think you’re also trying to write with your wrist. To get around this, you need to write with the pen ‘sticking out’, similar to how you use a whiteboard marker.

  1. I bought an XPS 12 a year and a half ago. Within 4 months I had to have the hard drive replaced, after that, I have had it in for repairs because of being slow or other problems. Now it is dead. I asked two people who work on computers what the problem could be. One said it was an internal problem. The other one has done the most work on it said I needed to send it back to Dell. I spent a lot to buy this product and it has seemed to be a lemon all along. If this problem cannot be solved by Dell, I will never buy another Dell product nor will I recommend it to anyone else. Please advise what you think I should do. I am not willing to spend a lot more on this lemon! I should not be having to consider buying another laptop in a year and a half of paying $1100 dollars for this one! Thanks for your response!

    1. Hi Bettye and sorry to hear about your XPS12 problems. My XPS is still going strong. I did find that a faulty USB hub made it unstable for a while, so I switched to a better hub with an external power supply and it’s as good as gold – still very fast with good battery life.
      I’ve now moved on to a Surface Pro 3. I’ll be reviewing it on the site soon, once I’ve been using it for a few weeks. Try one out in a Microsoft store and you might be impressed. I also recommend extended warranty products for laptops.

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