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Biggish Tablet, Smallish All-in-One or Both? The Dell XPS 18 is a portable desktop.
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Biggish Tablet, Smallish All-in-One or Both? The Dell XPS 18 is a portable desktop.

aio-xps-18-1810-pdp-love-design-3cThe Post PC marketplace is rapidly changing. Bulky towers are giving way to sleek All-in-Ones and the portable end is producing light and powerful Ultrabooks which vie with powerful and feather light tablets. Dell is trying to plant its XPS 18 in a new category right in the middle. Call it a Portable Desktop.

My Dell XPS 18 review sample unit is pretty impressive. The  18-inch 1080p display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive with 32GB SSD is tucked into a chassis that’s just 463.6 mm wide (18.25″),  283.7mm (11.17″) wide  and18mm (0.7″) at its thickest point. The main unit has dual kickstands but  I prefer the lightweight stand/charging unit that is included with this and the i7 model.

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The screen is spectacular, a I 18.4 inch full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS panel that is bright with great contrast and terrific viewing angles. The touchscreen is covered with Dragontrail Glass which I find a bit more draggy than Gorilla Glass for a slightly different touch experience. I loved this screen it is great for watching movies but the audio is a bit of a disappointment it was a bit thin with no bass no matter what setting I used on the built-in equalizer.

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Behind the screen is  Intel’s Core i5 3337U dual-core processor that runs at 1.8GHz and uses TurboBoost technology to ramp up to 2.7GHz when needed. It comes with 8GB of RAM and a two-stage storage system that combines a 500GB hard drive with a 32GB SSD. The flash portion caches the most frequently used data and programming code to speed start-ups and raise overall performance. I found performance to be similar to an Ultrabook, not slow but not a screamer either. The integrated graphics and the laptop class CPU limit gaming options to fairly basic games. Start-up is a pretty snappy 12 seconds and cached apps pop open instantly but others seem painfully slow to open once you get accustomed to the SSD speed.

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The XPS 18 unit tips the scales at 2287 grams (5.04 pounds) who you’re not likely to toss it in a backpack to take it to the park. But it is great for moving around the house..following a recipe in the kitchen or flat on a table to play games. I find it especially handy as a second screen while I am watching TV. Battery life is pretty good for such a big screen,  I was able to get 5 hours away from the charger over several days.

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As you would expect ports are pretty thin, there are two USB 3 ports, a combination microphone/headset port as well as a media card slot that supports 8 different formats. There is also a power port on the unit as well as magnetic connectors on the bottom for use with the stand.

This is an interesting computer from Dell in a new niche. While it has some shortcomings the XPS 18 is the best of the current crop in this niche. It is a solid well built unit with a great screen and laptop performance at a bit of a  premium price. I think this portable desktop is the perfect device for those compact nooks now popular for home PCs. It has plenty of power for household use and I was able to find several interesting uses for the portable tablet. Not to mention it is fun to use.

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There are four models of the XPS 18 starting at $899 for a Pentium CPU up to an i7 model at $1499. I  recommend the model I tested with the i5 processor at $1349, the less expensive units are underpowered and the slight performance increase you get from the i7 isn’t worth the extra 150 bucks. I would prefer to see a bigger SSD option. Check  them out at Dell’s US and Canadian websites.

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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