CNET First Look
Dell's hybrid takes a Yoga-like turnAn 11-inch laptop with a fold-back screen and touch-only keyboard.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here taking a look at the Dell XPS 11. This is a laptop I was very much looking forward to. It has a lot of the high-end design from Dell's premium XPS line and it's also a hybrid, a laptop-tablet hybrid that takes a lot of cues from Lenovo's Yoga line and that it has a hinge that starts here, keeps going like this. You can bend it back like this and make it kind of like a little kiosk, or you can bend it all the way down and then you get a touchscreen tablet and a fairly slim one at that. And of course, when you're done, you could just flip it back and all of a sudden you're back into laptop mode. The system is very thin, very light especially if you compare it to a lot of the other even small 11-inch hybrids that we've seen. So that all works in the system's favor. Working against it is one big design compromise and that is the keyboard had been replaced with essentially a flat keyboard, kind of like the touch keyboard on the Microsoft Surface and that the keys are kind of carved out of this, but they don't actually depress. So you have to kind of feel your way around them. You don't really get any tactile feedback while you're typing. You know, in a perfect world you could train yourself to use this and understanding it, comfortable with it, but honestly, after using it for several days, I really could not get my head around it. I had a lot of missed keys while I was typing. Other people tried it too and had pretty much the same experience. I found the actual laptop version of this system when you try to type on the screen to be very, very frustrating. Actually, the onscreen keyboard here on the-- on the tablet part of the system works better. I actually was more productive with typing just in tablet mode like this with the onscreen keyboard than in laptop mode like this. If they could take the XPS 11 and add even a very shallow physical keyboard where you can actually get the tactile feedback of typing on keys, will then it would work with the very thin design, and the big touchpad, and the decent performance and battery life they may get out of the system. Right now, it's just one frustrating tweak away from being really great. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Dell XPS 11.