Dell XPS 11 Hands On - 023

Dell announced three new additions to its line of XPS Windows laptops yesterday at an event in NY, giving the press a look at updated versions of the XPS 13 and 15 models as well as a new 2-in-1 XPS 11 device. We had a chance to spend some time with the XPS 11 and 15 (the XPS 13 wasn’t on display) so here are our first impressions of Dell’s new laptops.

Dell XPS 11

The XPS 11 is probably one of the weirdest notebooks we’ve ever seen. Why? It starts and ends with the touchpad keyboard. Instead of physical keys, you get a flat surface designed with the computer’s thickness in mind. However, Dell also decided to make the keyboard vibrate and emit a clicking audio while you type to simulate the real thing. The result is pretty weird, and while you would probably get used to it eventually—or just shut if off—we weren’t big fans of the keyboard.

The laptop also transforms easily into a full Windows 8.1 tablet, by simply bending the screen 180 degrees back. It’s a very fluid transformation from laptop to tablet, and it works perfectly fine as either of those devices. The 2560 x 1440-pixel touch display looks good, though its nothing special, and at $1,000 the XPS 11 is a solid choice if you’re looking for a laptop-tablet hybrid. If you only need one of those two devices, however, we’d recommend looking elsewhere. The XPS 11 launches in November.

XPS 15

The XPS 15 is a very nice 15-inch Windows 8.1 touch-display laptop with few frills to offer besides the usual customization options. It’s a heavy computer, but it has some solid hardware and its display offers deep and rich colors with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. Under the hood, you can choose from a Core i5 or i7 Haswell chip, up to 1TB of hard drive space or 512GB of solid-state storage, and even add voice controls and NFC if you’re willing to part with some extra cash.

With a $1,500 starting price tag there are cheaper Windows 8.1 laptops out there, but if you’re looking for a high-resolution touch screen and a high-end computer this may be the one for you. The XPS 15 launches in November.