Over the next few weeks, you’re going to hear a lot of noise from manufacturers about how one hybrid product or another gives you all of the benefits of a laptop and a tablet with no compromises on design. The Dell XPS Duo 12 is one of the few that actually seems to back that up.
The Duo is a convertible tablet/laptop that switches from laptop to tablet mode differently to most other hybrids currently being pushed onto the market. It’s a fully functional touchscreen laptop in its default mode, but when you push the display through its frame, it swivels all the way around and latches itself in place with magnets.
From the front, you can see a bit of light seeping through the frame, which makes the design feel cheap at first. But the mechanism is sturdier than it seems, and Dell knows it’s got to make the thing last if anyone’s going to buy it. Exactly how sturdy it is remains to be seen, but for now, it’s proving to be pretty solid.
The screen itself is a 1080p Corning Gorilla Glass panel with excellent colour representation.
The XPS Duo 12, like the XPS 10, shares its design language with Dell’s lovely XPS 13 and 14 ultrabooks. Where it’s different — aside from the swivelling screen — is the carbon fibre on the front of the lid; it’s aluminium on the XPS 13 and 14. Otherwise, the general look and feel are the same. That’s a good thing, since those XPS ultrabooks are really nice machines with great keyboards.
In the short amount of time we spent playing with it and putting it through its paces, the XPS Duo 12 stands up in the usability department. The trackpad is very good and miles ahead of those on previous XPS machines. Dell has been making great machines with mediocre trackpads for a while, but it seems to have overcome that hurdle with this hybrid machine.
We don’t have full specs and pricing just yet, but if you’re at all interested in a hybrid Windows 8 machine, this one is worth getting excited about, along with the XPS 10.