Since we're MobileTechReview, we don't usually cover all-in-one PCs, since they typically spend their lives tied to a desk rather than taking trips in a laptop bag. The Dell XPS 18 is one of the few all-in-ones (or AiOs) that's at home on your desk and it's a tablet too... a really huge tablet. The XPS 18 has an 18.4" full HD IPS touch screen and it weighs 5 pounds, which is about the same weight as the average 15" laptop. Color us impressed. Of course, at 18.4", it has a bigger footprint than anything other than an 18.4" gaming notebook, so you won't be tucking it under your arm unless you're Shaquille O'Neal. It's unlikely that you'll be toting the XPS 18 everywhere you go, but it's perfect for those who want to take it from room to room in a house (use it in the den as a PC, then bring it to the living room to watch Netflix) or in an office where it might be the desktop machine you take with you to deliver a presentation. Cool. Yes, you could do the same with a laptop, but the huge touchscreen is much better for a home movie watching session or sharing a presentation with folks who are seated more than a few feet away.
The XPS 18 runs Windows 8 64 bit on ULV Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 CPUs with Intel HD 4000 graphics (Ivy Bridge). Before you grumble about the lack of dedicated graphics, remember Dell designed this with portability and battery life in mind. It's not intended to be a super-powerful desktop system. That said, since it shares the same third generation Intel Ivy Bridge internals, it's just as capable as current Ultrabooks: MS Office, HD video playback, email, web, social networking, image editing and even some HD video editing are well within its purview. It can play casual games and older 3D games but it's not a good choice for a gaming PC with the latest 3D titles.
The XPS 18 has flip out feet so you can use it as a desktop or laid flat on a table with the far end elevated a bit to make it easier to see the tablet and interact with it. Dell offers a compact but very weighty metal stand with a rubber coated foot and tablet backrest for $99. They call it a charging stand because you can plug the compact notebook style charger into the stand and it will charge the tablet via a pogo pin connector on the lip of the stand that contacts the bottom edge of the tablet. The stand is included in some bundles like our review unit that sells for $1,329. It has a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU, 8 gigs of RAM, a 32 gig caching SSD and a 750 gig hard drive. The base model is $879 and it runs on a Pentium processor that we wouldn't recommend, it's just too slow. The Core i3 is $979 (stand not included). There's a Core i7-3537U for $1,429.
The tablet is very sturdy thanks to an internal magnesium frame and an anodized aluminum back cover. It doesn't flex or creak and looks and feels like a high quality piece of consumer electronics. The tablet has two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm combo audio jack and an 8-in-one card reader. It has stereo speakers that are fairly loud and full and an integrated webcam that worked well with Skype. The tablet is available with Intel N-2230 dual band WiFi or Killer Wireless-N 1202 for those who need seriously strong WiFi. Bluetooth 4.0 is standard. The tablet supports Intel WiDi wireless display.
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Dell XPS 18 Video Review
Display, Mouse and Keyboard
The 1920 x 1080 IPS display is lovely: it's bright at near 300 nits, has lively and natural color saturation and very good contrast. Viewing angles are wide, making it perfect for sharing and touch works well. In fact, it's much easier to use Windows 8 in desktop mode compared to 10.6 to 13.3" convertibles, tablets and laptops with touch screens since on-screen targets are larger. Dell includes a wireless keyboard and mouse with all XPS 18 models, and the keyboard feels just like a Dell XPS mobile keyboard (a good thing in our book). Logitech makes both the mouse and keyboard.
Anything this big should have terrible battery life, but given that the internals are the same as an Ultrabook and there's room for a large 69 WHr 8 cell battery, the XPS 18 sips rather than guzzles power. In tablet mode at 50% brightness we averaged 4.5 hours of use with some HD video streaming in the mix. You'd be hard pressed to find an 18" notebook that runs this long on a charge since those big beasts are generally gaming machines with power-hungry dedicated graphics and full mobile CPUs. The charger is a moderate sized brick that's not a burden to carry.
After spending a month with the Dell XPS 18, it's hard not to really like it. The lovely IPS display, occasional portability and quiet performance are strong selling points. It looks attractive, is well made and stays cool thanks to the low powered internals. It's not the product for serious gamers or CAD workers, but it's perfect for everyday productivity and multimedia entertainment.
Price: Starting at $899, our configuration is $1,349 for Intel Core i5 with charging stand
Display:18.4" IPS touch screen with 10 point multi-touch. 1920 x 1080 full HD. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Intel WiDi wireless display.
Battery:69 WHr 8 cell battery Lithium
Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.
Performance:As tested: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3337U processor (3M Cache, Turbo Boost up to 2.7 GHz), 8 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz dual channel RAM and 500 gig 5400 RPM SATA HDD. Also available with Intel Core i3 and i7 CPUs. Two DIMM slots for RAM, standard SATA drive connector.
x 11.17 x 0.70 inches. Weight: 5.04 pounds.
Audio:Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo combo mic-headphone
Networking:Integrated dual band
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel or Killer Wireless available).
Software:Windows 8 64 bit.
Expansion and Ports:Two USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio jack and 1
SD/MMC/MemoryStick card slot.