This Dell XPS 15 is a powerhouse.
You can feel just how well it’s built as soon as you open it. The carbon fibre deck looks great, and feels even better under your hands. The keyboard keys have an extremely short travel, but still feel responsive to touch.
The best thing about this machine is staring you right in the face. The 15-inch screen is massive, and it’s glorious to use. The screen quality is bright and sharp and there are no bright spots or noticeable drop-off at the edges.
The downside, is the extra weight. This machine weighs nearly 2 kilograms, and it’s bulkier too, especially compared with its smaller 13-inch sibling. I used an XPS 13 two years ago, and in comparison this machine feels luxurious, like moving into a bigger house.
I thought the extra bulk might cause problems travelling, trying to shoehorn it into an economy airline seat. The XPS 15 2-in-1 has a neat trick though. In tablet mode, the screen folds all the way round, transforming its traditional clamshell design into a flat tablet. It’s not much bigger than an A4 pad, but it’s enough to make it totally workable in tight spaces like a plane.
In fact, the XPS 15’s tablet mode with Windows 10 new Inking features is a better way to work on a plane, or in cafes, rather than using a traditional clamshell laptop, however portable they are.
Windows 10 Inking features are everywhere in Office 365, which means instead of typing comments into document drafts, you can run over them with the Dell’s stylus, highlighting sections, handwriting notes, or sketching out updates. It’s a much quicker, more convenient way to work.
Windows Ink even includes AI features that can capture your handwriting and convert it into text. It’s not perfect (and to be honest, neither is my handwriting) but it’s a good start, and jotting out notes is often a much easier way to get started than staring at a blank screen and a keyboard.
Ink works with maths too: Write down your sums, and Ink can convert your handwritten scrawl into equations it can evaluate, and it will even spit out the answers for you. This turned out to be incredibly useful working out dimensions for a DIY gate project.
In Microsoft Edge, you can use Ink to highlight sections of a web page, add your comments or notes, and then share the page by email or DM. (If you’re with other people who are also running Windows 10, you can send your marked-up copy straight to them, using the Windows 10 Nearby Sharing feature, much less mucking around than email or messages.)
Windows Ink is fantastic. It’s fun to use, and it didn’t take long before I started relying on it to get work done. It would be hard going back to a machine that doesn’t support it.
AI features have found their way into Microsoft Office applications too. I was surprised to find the new Designer features in PowerPoint, which takes images I’d usually just drop into a slide and suggests more interesting or imaginative ways to display them. It can add a nice touch to otherwise boring slides.
Microsoft has refreshed the Office interface and while the applications retain all the features you expect to see, the applications themselves look and feel fresher. More importantly, on this Dell XPS 15, they feel nice and snappy. There’s little or no lag, even working with my biggest Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
I get a full day’s work out of the Dell XPS 15, without worrying about running out of battery or having to plug in somewhere halfway through the day.
But the best thing about this machine? Even after a full day, it happily powers through a movie too. And movies look fantastic on this huge screen. I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)