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Dell XPS 18 review: A near-perfect hybrid of Windows tablet and all-in-one desktop

Michael Brown | Oct. 7, 2014
The XPS 18 is expensive (in this configuration, that is), but it's the best midsized portable all-in-one we've seen.

I've taken to calling oversized tablet/all-in-one PC hybrids such as Dell's XPS 18 "tabletop tablets," and the XPS is the crème de la crème of that category. It's just the right size and weight to move easily around the house, it's equipped with a gorgeous 18.4-inch touchscreen display, and it comes with a charging stand for those times you want it to remain stationary.

But as much as I like the XPS 18, it's not perfect. The configuration I prefer--with a nimble Intel Core i74510U processor, 8MB of DDR3L/1600 memory, and a speedy 256GB SSD--costs a pretty penny: $1500, to be exact. Dell offers three less-expensive models (same display, but with slower processors, less memory, mechanical hard drives--and in one case--no charging stand), but I'm sure they don't deliver the same kick.

Dell XPS 18
Dell's XPS 18 comes with a very good wireless keyboard and a pretty good wireless mouse (although the latter shuts off completely after a few hours' idle time, so you must flip it over and push a button to bring it back to life). 

I'm also sad to report that none of the four models has an HDMI input (so you can't use them as a display for a gaming console or a set-top box), and none of them provides the option of a hardwired network connection. The model reviewed here does come with an integrated 2x2 Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Wi-Fi adapter. Finally, the XPS 18's speakers are nothing to write home about (more on that later).

By now, you're probably taking a second look at my 4-star rating and wondering what I'm going on about. No worries. I just wanted to get the bulk of my negative observations out of the way early: For me, the XPS 18 remains the epitome of the mid-sized tabletop tablet.

The heavily weighted, articulated charging stand lets you angle the display over a wide arc, so you can use it while seated at a desk or while standing over it. You must position it just so to make the proper electrical contact to charge its battery, but I'll take that minor dance over fumbling with a mechanical latch any day. Besides, an LED on the stand helpfully lights up when you've achieved success.

The tablet can also be charged independently of the charging stand. If I were to buy an XPS 18, I'd buy a second power brick to avoid the awkward reach-around that's required to unplug the power supply from the stand. But if Dell's engineers are reading this, how about adding a gigabit ethernet jack to the stand next time? I dig 802.11ac, but a wired connection will always be faster. That and an HDMI input on the tablet (not to beat a dead horse) would be Nirvana.

 

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