At CES 2018, Dell unveiled two very interesting laptops: the compact and sleek XPS 13, and the new XPS 15 2-in-1. After spending some time with the convertible XPS 15 – and taking a closer look at its hardware – it’s really quite a compelling, powerful Windows laptop. However, it does have its fair share of shortcomings too, and the “maglev” keyboard may not appeal to everyone.
Before we get to it, let’s get the XPS 15 2-in-1’s hardware out of the way. It features Intel’s eight generation Core i5-8305G or i7-8705G processor paired with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, SSD storage options ranging from 128GB to 1TB, and a 75WHr battery, which provides up to 15 hours of battery life. The convertible XPS 15 can also be configured with a 15.6-inch 4K or 1080p InfinityEdge touch display.
But what makes the XPS 15 2-in-1 a really interesting convertible lies in its integrated GPU: it comes with AMD’s new Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics. While it’s not quite as powerful as the GH variant, this integrated GPU is still plenty capable – it’s said to be slightly faster than Nvidia’s GTX 1050 GPU.
Now that we’ve got the XPS 15 2-in-1’s hardware covered, let’s move on to one of its most…interesting features. Of course, I’m talking about its new maglev keyboard, which relies on magnets to provide tactile feedback. So how does it feel to type on? Weird.
See, the convertible XPS 15’s keyboard only offers 0.7mm of key travel – that’s about half the travel of the conventional XPS 15‘s keyboard. Needless to say, the XPS 15 2-in-1’s keyboard feels quite shallow. In fact, it feels a lot like typing on the 12-inch MacBook’s equally shallow keyboard.
However, the maglev keyboard does excel in one vital area: tactile feedback. As it uses magnets to simulate feedback, it’s one of the clickiest laptop keyboards I’ve tried. In fact, I quite enjoy the…”unique” typing experience, though I reckon those who prefer key travel over tactile feedback won’t be too thrilled with this maglev keyboard.
The trackpad of the new XPS 15 is quite good too. My fingers can glide effortlessly on the smooth surface, it can recognise gestures really well, and it’s also quite an accurate trackpad. Not the best in the market by any means, but definitely above average. Oh, the optional active stylus is quite natural to use too.
Aside from that, the XPS 15 2-in-1’s display is very impressive. The almost bezel-less InfinityEdge display give the laptop a very sleek aesthetic, the display itself is bright and vibrant, and the tiny bezels also reduce the overall dimension of the laptop. However, while the convertible XPS 15 is more compact than your conventional 15-inch laptop, it’s still quite a large machine. On top of that, it also weighs close to 2kg – not exactly a very light laptop.
As it was the case with the new XPS 13, the XPS 15 2-in-1’s connectivity options has been revamped to cut down on the thickness of the laptop. Not only are there no more full-size USB ports – they’re all swapped with USB-C ports now – the SD card reader has been replaced with a microSD card reader too.
Beyond the love-it-or-hate-it maglev keyboard and connectivity options, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is truly an exciting convertible. Not only is it one of the first laptops to ship with Intel’s new processor with Radeon RX Vega GPU, its sleek InfinityEdge display and compact form factor make for a really compelling laptop.
But it does come at a price: retailing from $1,300 (about RM5,215), it’s quite a pricey laptop. Nonetheless, set to be available sometime in spring 2018, I’m definitely excited to see how much Dell will price the XPS 15 2-in-1 once it arrives in Malaysia.