So, this sounds nuts, but Dell’s new 18-inch desktop tablet actually feels… light. Like something that isn’t insane to hold and carry around, and, more importantly, like something that might have a chance at being more than a gimmick.
The specs on the XPS 18 are pretty standard for desktops. Its processor starts at the low end, with a Pentium 2117U, but it scales up to an Ivy Bridge Core i7. It has either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and the thinnest 18-inch 1080p panel available, whether in a monitor or as a desktop.
That thinness is the main takeaway here. We’ve seen all-in-ones that turn into tablets before, or at least turn into flat surfaces. Notably, the Lenovo Horizon and the Sony Vaio Tab 20 looked pretty promising. Asus’ 18.5-inch Transformer, which switches to a Tegra 3 processor and Android, was interesting. But all of those were clunky enough to feel like something you’d mainly use as a desktop and only yank off to show off to your visiting niece or nephew.
The XPS, however, is as thin as an ultrabook. It’s 17.7mm thick and weighs 2.2kg. Dell claims about five hours of runtime on 50 per cent brightness and average workload, though real-life usage will probably bring that down some. It adds up to something that makes sense to actually pick up and move around. It has legs that fold out to let it stand up, or you can get an optional stand that will charge on its own (getting it to sit just right on its magnetic charger is a bit tricky though), but it makes sense just lying flat on a table or the floor too. The Windows 8 touch keyboard is actually surprisingly usable like that.
Holding the XPS 18 on your lap on a couch feels dumb. But of course it does. The allure here is being able to yank up your desktop computer, with full desktop guts, and set it down at the kitchen table or in front of the TV or anywhere else you need it. And for once, that actually seems like it wouldn’t be a humongous chore. And that has to be a step in the right direction.