Large, 15-inch two-in-ones can be unwieldy devices, but that isn't stopping manufacturers from making them. Dell unveiled the new XPS 15 convertible at CES, complete with a design that resembles the original 15-inch XPS laptop while including upgraded processors and graphics chips. The new XPS also has a stylus that works with the device's touchscreen.
Dell didn't radically change the design of the bigger XPS, but it did manage to stuff a lot of power into its 16mm-thick, 4.3-pound frame. Inside are 8th-generation Intel CPUs, and each model comes with Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics with 4GB of high bandwidth memory. The XPS 15 laptop has an optional Nvidia GPU (Intel HD Graphics 630 comes standard), so the new convertible is a better option if you want discrete graphics in a default configuration. The XPS 15 convertible will also support up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB SSD.
To support the improved processor and CPU, Dell redesigned the inside of the machine to use GORE Thermal Insulation, just like in the new XPS 13 laptop. The new structure should prevent the chassis from overheating and aid in power management. Dell also included a new hub sensor in the XPS 15 convertible that uses a gyroscope and an accelerometer to determine how the device is being used, in what position, and where, all while better managing heat and performance.
The XPS 15 convertible has an optional Windows Hello fingerprint reader on the power button, but Dell also included an IR camera standard. That means you can use Windows Hello facial recognition to unlock the device, which is an overdue perk. The XPS 15 convertible still has that awkward webcam placement below the display panel, but it's more useful and usable than the regular webcam on the laptop version because the device can flex into multiple positions. It's still frustrating that Dell insists on keeping the front-facing camera below the display (especially considering its Latitude line manages to put the webcam in a normal spot, atop the display). But at least as a convertible, the new XPS 15 can properly use the IR camera when in various use position modes.
Both the FHD and 4K display options are touchscreens, and Dell made a new stylus to work with the XPS 15 convertible. Like many other active pens, this one has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt functionality, allowing you to take notes and sketch like you were using a pencil and paper. The stylus also attaches magnetically to the side of the new XPS 15, which should help you keep track of the stylus and provide an easy way to bring the stylus with you wherever you take the convertible.
However, the stylus isn't included with the new XPS 15—it costs $99 and will be available starting in April 2018. It's not uncommon for a manufacturer to charge extra for a stylus, but some companies like HP include a stylus in the box with their convertibles (HP packages one with the Spectre x360 15, a similarly sized and priced convertible to Dell's new device).
Dell—like HP and other manufacturers—is positioning these larger convertibles as pseudo-gaming devices with their upgraded GPUs. While you may be able to get away with some light gaming on the Dell XPS 13 convertible, the new XPS 15 two-in-one is better suited for serious gamers and power users alike. Dell's XPS 15 2-in-1 will be available in April starting at $1,299.
Listing image by Valentina Palladino