DELL XPS 15 2-IN-1 REVIEW: JACK OF ALL TRADES


Dell’s latest 15-inch XPS 2-in-1 is a high-end laptop that appeals to creative users: people who need power and portability, and might also appreciate a touchscreen and a stylus. It plays in the same field as HP’s Spectre x360 15, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, and Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Right out of the box, Dell gets most things right with the XPS 15 2-in-1, with a just few areas that need improvement. Its build quality, attention to detail, power, and flexibility add up to a high-end experience that matches its premium price.

It’s fair to say you get what you pay for with the XPS 15 2-in-1. It starts at $1,299, but the model I’ve been testing costs nearly a grand more at $2,199. That price gets a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB of storage, a 4K touchscreen, and AMD’s integrated Radeon Vega M graphics. The most costly part of that is the 4K screen, so you can save quite a bit by opting for the 1080p panel. No matter which model you buy, the Vega M graphics come along for the ride. It’s a solid package that I’ve been able to live and work with — mostly in harmony.

Looking at the XPS 15 2-in-1’s chassis is well, an unimpressive viewing — Dell’s XPS laptops have been using the same basic design language for years now and it looks dated. Most of the laptop is covered in metal topped with a silver finish, and when opened up, a faux carbon fiber palm rest. It has a rubberized, smooth texture that makes it by far one of the most comfortable palm rests I’ve used and despite being prone to fingerprints, it’s easy to clean.

DELL’S BUILD QUALITY IS UNMATCHED
Overall, the design might be boring, but the XPS makes up for that with excellent build quality. The palm rest, display, touchpad, and keyboard hardly exhibit any noticeable give — there are no wobbly underside or clicking fans here.

However, the Dell XPS 2-in-1 isn’t a lightweight, weighing in at almost 4.5 pounds. That’s more than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, Surface Book 2, and even some full-fledged gaming laptops. I don’t think anyone wants to walk around with a four-plus pound tablet, because it’s cumbersome and awkward to use, but since the XPS is a convertible, you can do that if you want.

The 360-degree hinge also lets you use the XPS in an easel or movie-watching mode, both of which are probably more practical than as a tablet. The hinge is quite sturdy and doesn’t have the horrible screen wobble so many 2-in-1s are plagued by. On the flip side, it’s very hard to open the XPS 15 2-in-1 with one hand, thanks to that stiff hinge and no cut out to slip your finger into.

When it comes to ports, the XPS 2-in-1 reminds me of the not-so-loved 15-inch MacBook Pro: two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-C 3.1 ports with DisplayPort, an audio jack, microSD card slot (I’m not sure what to do with it), lock slot, and a battery level indicator. There’s no full-size USB-A port — which is a travesty — and while I appreciate the forward-thinking of including USB-C, user adoption still isn’t high enough for me to swear it off, then have to buy a dongle.

Dell does get your dongle collection started by including a USB-C to A adapter in the box, but I’d much rather just have the port built into the machine itself. Fortunately, you can charge the laptop using any one of the four USB-C ports.

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