It’s certainly one impressive machine, at least from a build level, and we’re particularly enamored with Dell’s idea of what constitutes a hybrid laptop tablet.
Rather than go with the whole “pull the screen out from the keyboard” idea that other manufacturers have gone with, Dell is trying a different tactic, putting the display on a hinge that allows you to push it and change where it faces.
You can either make it face you in the laptop configuration, acting as a touchscreen for a regular laptop, or push it and rotate it to the cover of the laptop, disconnecting it from the keyboard and mouse in the laptop frame, and switching the entire thing to act as if it were a very thick and powerful tablet computer.
This is helped by a metal frame where the display normally sits, allowing the hinged screen to maintain rigidity while you’re flipping it around.
While we’re sure Dell could have come up with other ways of making this work, and we can recall older tablet style PCs having the entire screen pivot, Dell’s logic of just making the display change positions actually makes a lot of sense, and means it’s really easy to convert this touchscreen notebook into a tablet computer.
The screen is also very impressive, with Dell making the 12 inch display capable of showing a 1920×1080 resolution with pretty solid viewing angles, hardly surprising given that this screen needs to be used as both a laptop and a tablet.
Also useful is the inclusion of some high powered internals – Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage – with all of these specs helping to make this computer have a speedy experience. As such, Windows 8 seems to adore this computer, with the touch experience flying here and apps switching quickly.
There are some issues though that popped up in the reviewing process, though, and it’s not a perfect machine.
One of these is the wake-up speed, which seems to be all over the shop. Pop the laptop open in clamshell mode – like a regular laptop – and you might find it’s ready to go in a second or five. Flip the screen out into the tablet mode and it could take as long as thirty seconds to wake up, even when you’re pressing either the Windows button on front or the power button along the side.
When it does eventually turn on, you may find some issues with operating solely in touch.
For instance, we had a password on our login for Windows 8, and yet no matter how much we pressed on that little password entry box, no onscreen keyboard would pop up. Eventually we found our savior in the accessibility controls on the screen, but then had to deal with a virtual keyboard that was too small to type with.
The battery isn’t amazing either. After a full charge, we didn’t manage more than roughly four hours, which seems under what an Ultrabook should be offering, especially one with a price edging close to the two thousand dollar mark.