Surface clones rising: Now Dell is reportedly developing one, called the XPS 12

Move over, Microsoft, Lenovo, and even you, Apple. Dell wants to sit down.

Dell reportedly is developing its own Surface 2-in-1 tablet clone, dubbed the Dell XPS 12, which will boast a 4K display and a kickstand.

Is everybody making a Surface these days?

Dell’s XPS 12 was unearthed by German site Giga.de, which claims to have come across marketing materials used by Dell. Those materials claim that the tablet will be released in October, the same month that Microsoft reportedly will launch the Surface Pro 4.

The site wasn’t able to track down a price, but claims that the tablet will include a 3840x2160 4K display, far superior than what’s offered by the Surface Pro 3. Somewhat surprisingly, the materials also claim that the Dell XPS 12 will have over 10 hours of battery life. Instead of USB 3.0, there’s a Thunderbolt 3 connector, plus an 8-megapixel camera on the rear of the tablet, and a 5MP camera on the front.

If what Giga.de has dug up is true, however, two more details peg the Dell XPS 12 as a Surface clone: the kickstand, and what apparently is called the Dell Active Stylus. “Write on your Web page, one click to One Note, and casual sketching with Bamboo Paper,” the materials say. Of course, a click-to-launch OneNote is one of the features of the Surface Pen.

What we don’t know about the Dell XPS 12 (in addition to the price) is the processor that’s powering it, the amount of memory, and other key details. What can we speculate, of course, is that if we have multiple devices with the same look and feel—the Microsoft Surface 3, the Surface Pro 3, the recently announced Lenovo Miix 700, as well as the expected Surface 4 and Surface Pro 4, plus the XPS 12—competition should bring prices crashing to earth. And if there’s been one criticism of the Surface Pro 3 line, it’s been that it’s too expensive.

What Giga.de’s illustrations hopefully hint at as well is a 2-in-1 with a rigid, firm keyboard. The XPS 12 illustrations appear to show keys with some spacing in between, more similar to the Miix rather than the nearly side-by-side Surface keys.

Unfortunately, Dell representatives could not be reached for comment.

Why this matters: In March, we predicted that the Surface Pro 4 would be released this fall, boasting a Skylake processor and a RealSense depth camera. Increasingly, it looks like we could be right. The Miix includes an optional RealSense camera on the back of the tablet, with a Skylake processor (a Core M) inside. What we didn’t expect was the freedom that Microsoft would grant its customers to copy the Surface. We know that Microsoft sees itself as a trailblazer, letting its customers follow behind. But with Microsoft, Lenovo, and now (apparently) Dell, can the rest of the PC industry be far behind?

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Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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