About a month ago, we unveiled the XPS 18 portable all-in-one. Today, customers in the United States, Canada and select countries in Europe can order the XPS 18. Pricing starts at $899.99 in the United States. While the entry configuration offers a 1.8GHz Pentium processor, we have three others with either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor with up to 8GB RAM for customers interested in even more performance.
For those who missed my initial post, the XPS 18 is a touch-enabled AIO desktop that runs Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro designed for portability. While it’s built for true desktop performance, it weighs less than 5 pounds. That means it’s easy to move from the study to the kitchen or the family room. Check out this XPS 18 Overview Video to get a better sense of what it’s all about. With the XPS 18, our engineers designed the world’s thinnest and lightest portable AIO.
After some hands-on time with the high-end i7 config that will be available in the coming weeks, I was pretty impressed with the performance and the flexibility of the design. Along with the XPS 18 itself, I also tested the optional charging dock. Throughout my hands-on time, one thing that really stood out was the responsive touch functionality. While I’ve been used to touch on tablets and smartphones, having touch capability on a bigger screen seemed more immersive to me.
Update (5/13): Just a quick note to let customers know the i7 configuration that I tested is now available for order via Dell.com to customers in the United States.
Note: Click on any of the images in this post to see larger versions. You can see more images by clicking on the Dell XPS 18 Portable AIO album on Dell’s Google+ page.
Besides touch, another obvious use for the XPS 18 is a multimedia device. It features a bright 350-nit full HD (1920 x 1080) display. In my experience, photos and HD video looked great. I streamed HD video using the Windows 8 Netflix and Hulu+ apps. Both performed flawlessly. We buy lots of kid’s movies on Blu-ray that come with digital copies of the movies. I used the awesome Plex app for Windows 8 to play back digital copies of Coraline, Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph that I had transferred from Digital Copy disc to my Studio XPS 7100 desktop. The dual-band integrated Wi-Fi helped ensure smooth playback on both 720p and 1080p video overall. Beyond that, the XPS 18 supports Bluetooth version 4.0 and Intel’s WiDi functionality which allows you to stream audio and video to a TV in another room via a device like Netgear’s Push2 TV box. Still, once I starting using the XPS 18 in the living room, I found less of a need to share content on the big screen as opposed to my 4-inch smartphone where the extra screen real estate does make a difference.
I did use my Xbox 360 to try playback on the living room TV. I was able to use Windows 8 Play To functionality to send photos and videos wirelessly to the TV in my living room without any problem using Windows 8’s built-in Photos and Videos app. Again, the dual-band Wi-Fi functionality proved itself well here, where playback worked smoothly across the board. I also tried out the Xbox SmartGlass app to stream HD trailers from the XPS 18 to my TV connected to the Xbox with similar results. I was also able to launch Minecraft and other games on the Xbox 360 using the XPS 18.
Productivity-wise, the XPS 18 worked as well as a traditional tower desktop no matter what I was doing. I used the machine (along with a wireless keyboard and mouse) to write this blog post with Windows Live Writer 2012, and it performed solidly throughout the process. I also installed Microsoft Office 2013, and used both SkyDrive and Google Drive to store documents and notes using a combination of my Latitude work laptop, my Studio XPS 7100 desktop and the XPS 18 along the way. One Note 2013 also made it really easy for me to share information across these devices. The webcam worked great with Skype voice and video calls, same for a Google+ Hangout. On video chats, another benefit with the XPS 18 was that several family members could see the display at once. I found it to be a much better alternative than passing around a smartphone or tablet like we’ve been used to doing.
I tried a few different wireless keyboards and mice with the XPS 18 and all worked smoothly, including Microsoft’s Arc Keyboard and Mouse, a Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard and the new Dell wireless keyboard and mouse combo that comes with every XPS 18. While all the devices worked well, I like that the Dell wireless keyboard and mouse worked without using either one of the external USB ports. That’s because each XPS 18 comes standard with an internal USB connection built into support the Dell wireless keyboard and mouse combination. This means you have two USB 3.0 ports to use for other purposes.
I was also really impressed with the optional dock that we sell for the XPS 18. For those of you who plan to use the XPS 18 primarily as an AIO machine, purchasing the dock is an easy decision. It’s a solid metal dock that has an AC connector built in. When you plug in the power adapter to the dock, charging the XPS 18 is as simple as setting it in the stand connector which features a magnet so it’s simple to put it in place. A light on the front of the dock shows you that the machine is being charged. The dock also has a hinge so you can change the angle of the display. Bottom line, when the XPS 18 is connected to the dock, it provides you all the ease and flexibility an AIO desktop provides—one power cord, and everything’s ready to go.
Even without the dock, all XPS 18 units come with sturdy flip out feet that support the tablet either horizontally or vertically on any table or other flat surface. I found the vertical mode a great way to watch movies, while the horizontal angled flat option made it easy for several family members to view a slideshow of pictures from my son’s football game. In either mode, the benefit of the wide viewing angle was pretty obvious. It’s easy for several people to view the display at once.
All of the XPS 18 configurations come with Intel’s integrated HD 4000 video. It works great for displaying things like high-res pictures and full HD video like I mentioned. Tablet games like Fruit Ninja and the Air Hockey worked well overall, but don’t expect to play graphic-intensive PC games like Bioshock Infinite or Battlefield 4. If you’re looking for a high-end gaming experience, you should look at other machines like our XPS 8500 desktop or any one of our Alienware systems.
As a large screen touch device, the XPS 18 far exceeded the viewing experience I’m used to on typical 7-inch or 10-inch tablets. I found that the flip out feet worked well here. When I first brought it home, I connected it to my Wi-Fi network and installed the Windows 8 Netflix app, stood it upright using the flip out feet and within minutes my kids were blown away by the viewing experience it provides compared to my Nexus 7 and other tablets. The touch functionality worked just as you would expect with Windows 8—the touch experience it provides either as a tablet or AIO desktop is stellar. I’m used to running Windows 8 on my Studio XPS 7100 with just a keyboard and mouse. With the XPS 18, I definitely used the touch capability more and more even when I had the wireless keyboard and mouse connected. There’s no doubt I’ll miss the touch experience as I transition back to my original desktop machine. Battery life was surprisingly good in my experience. I was able to get more than 5 hours even after streaming an HD movie and playing multiple rounds of Fruit Ninja when I didn’t have the system plugged in.
In just a few days with it, I used the XPS 18 in my computer room on the dining room table, in the kitchen and in the living room. I found that it offered great performance I’d expect in a desktop, but the fact that it is less than 5 pounds made it easy to move from room to room. I’ll admit it was hard for a desktop guy like me to change my ways of thinking about a traditional desktop, but I quickly saw the benefit being able to move the XPS 18 from room to room. I can’t do that with my desktop. And while I thought the touch aspect would be interesting, I was surprised by how seamless and immersive touch felt using a larger display.
I hope this gives you a decent idea of what to expect from the XPS 18. It’s definitely not a typical product. If you’re looking for a touch device that offers desktop performance along with portability, the XPS 18 fits all those needs.
You can learn more about the product by visiting Dell.com/xps18. Customers in the US can order the XPS 18 via this link. Let me know if you have any questions by dropping me a line in the comments below, or ping me @LionelatDell on Twitter.