Hands-on with the XPS 11

We try out the new convertible notebook that sports a high-resolution 2,560x1,440-pixel screen and a flat keyboard that's quite unlike what's found in other laptops.

The Dell XPS 11 in notebook mode. John Chan/CNET

TAIPEI -- We spent a few minutes here at Computex 2013 with the Dell XPS 11 , a new convertible notebook with a flip design, not unlike the Lenovo Yoga Ultrabook.

One of the notebook's main features is its 11.6-inch, 2,560x1,440-pixel-resolution display. This gives it an extremely high PPI, much more than the larger XPS 13 , which has a 1,920x1,080 screen.

The 11.6-inch, 2,560x1,440-pixel display. John Chan/CNET

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The screen looks sharp, and you won't be able to make out individual pixels even if you go really close to it. It will drive up the cost of the product, though, so we don't expect the XPS 11 to go for cheap when launched.

An active digitizer will be bundled with the notebook, which will make possible better use of handwriting and drawing apps. Dell did not demo this feature -- I only tried out its regular touch capabilities with fingers, which worked fine.

A close-up of the slightly raised keys. John Chan/CNET

One of the key talking points about the XPS 11 is Dell's decision to use a flat one-piece keyboard rather than a normal notebook keyboard. With this, you won't be pressing on keys when holding the device in tablet mode, but there's a sacrifice in tactile feedback when typing.

You can hold it in tablet form without getting a strange feeling of pressing down keys constantly. John Chan/CNET

Running my fingers across the keyboard, I do get a feel of where each key starts and ends because of the slightly raised keys, which is a little better than a software keyboard.

According to Dell, you also get audio feedback on key presses, though there will not be haptic feedback through vibration. Note that this keyboard will also be backlit.

The XPS 11 is slim and weighs just over 1Kg. John Chan/CNET

The notebook is very thin and light, weighing just over 1Kg. Carbon fiber is used on the front and back, while the frame is made of aluminum. It looks very good, with nice touches such as the XPS 11 brand on a metal label on the base, and a lighted power button.

The carbon fiber weave on the top lid. John Chan/CNET

The ports on the notebook include two USB 3.0, one on each side, a full-size HDMI connector, an SD card slot, and an audio mini jack.

The price is not yet available, but it will ship in fall this year with Windows 8.1.

 

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