We'd be remiss if we didn't revisit the Dell XPS 12 in its Haswell revision before year's end. Why? The XPS 12 was one of our top picks among Windows 8 convertibles with a full HP IPS display, clever design that avoided the Lenovo Yoga's keyboard poking out from the bottom issue, and it runs on full Intel Core CPUs for strong performance. Many convertibles and detachables hit the market since the XPS 12's launch, but the Haswell refresh that starting shipping a few months back, puts Dell's 12.5" convertible safely back as one of our top picks. Better yet, Dell and retailers have been running some strong promotions for the holiday season, and you can still find the normally $1,100 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U laptop for a bargain $799 (or less) at places like Microcenter and Microsoft Stores.
We won't go too deep on design and ergonomics because that hasn't changed much from our original XPS 12 review. The easel hinge has gotten a firmer locking mechanism, but the carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium machine hasn't changed outwardly. Inside, the XPS 12 makes the move from Ivy Bridge to Intel Haswell fourth generation CPUs, and the Ultrabook-tablet is available with Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 CPU options. You can get it with 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L RAM and a 128 gig or higher SSD drive. Dell takes care of the little things that please enthusiasts, so you get a few niceties like fast mSATA SSD drive models and Intel 7260 dual band 802.11ac WiFi.
The XPS 12 has a full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display that's bright, has good contrast and decent, though not class leading color gamut. This is a touch-only display and there's no digital pen option. The 3.35 lb. machine has one of the best backlit Ultrabook keyboards on the market, and the Synaptics touchpad works well too. The Dell can be used as a standard laptop, a tablet, in presentation mode and in tent mode, making it a versatile machine. Clearly at over 3 pounds, it's not meant to be an iPad replacement and you'll need to spend a lot of time at the gym if you want to hold this tablet on your arm for hours. I suspect most folks will use it on a desk in tablet mode, or opt for presentation and tent modes.
The XPS 12 has two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio, stereo speakers, webcam, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. Sorry, there's no SD card slot.