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Dell introduces the XPS 11 Ultrabook – kills what we loved about laptops

Dell XPS 11 (Courtesy of The Verge)

Image courtesy of The Verge

Today Dell announced its latest carbon fiber and aluminum creation, the XPS 11. The manufacturer’s latest machine features a beautiful design and 2560 x 1440 resolution. In addition, Dell takes a cue from Lenovo’s IdeaPad YOGA and introduces a hinge that allows the screen to flip back 360-degrees behind the keyboard.

Did we mention that Dell flattened the keyboard so much that you might confuse it with a Microsoft Touch Cover? We don't know about you, but to us, one of the main factors laptop machines still have going for themselves, over their tablet counterparts, are the keyboards. Why Dell, why?

If you can get past the flat and motionless keyboard, you should be able to enjoy the machine. The unit’s battery size, RAM capacity, and SSD storage sizes have not yet been released by the company.

Dell plans to launch the unit this holiday season with an Intel Core i5 Haswell CPU (which by then, you should probably just wait for Intel’s next microarchitecture).

Do you like Dell’s latest creation or are you shaking your head?

Source: The Verge

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Dell introduces the XPS 11 Ultrabook – kills what we loved about laptops

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Why shake your head? This seems par for the course. I love my Dell XPS1645 but it was designed so well that they have a standard over-heating kit because when you open the laptop the screen covers the exhaust vents...

Sitting at my Dell (Studio)XPS 1645 typing this reply over the noise of the fan desperately trying to eject the hot air, past the screen covering the vent, which is now seeping into the palms of my hands. Stupid Dell.
Although it has lasted a good few years but that should be expected.

So Dell generally sucks at deciding where to put the vent. My Inspiron 4030's display also kinda blocks the air ejection vent which makes that part of the screen warm. They could have put the thing on the side of the laptop.

I have gotten better at typing on the touch cover but i don't think I would buy a laptop with a flat keyboard. This sucks.

Lets keep in mind this is a 11 inch device, I highly doubt folks are going to be typing 40 hrs a week on such a form factor.  Its meant for short stints...maybe 2hrs max.  And thats fine by me because when at a desk, I'll have an external monitor and keyboard for long work sessions.  On the road though, I rather it tip more towards the tablet side of things...and this does that.  Well have to see but I believe its haptic feedback and backlighting should help elevate it over say, Surface Touch Cover. Also, this has a stylus, and I think you'd be surprised how well active digitizers work in Windows 8.

10 years ago that might be true, but today it's very common for people to put in serious work hours on an 11 inch device. The 11 inch Macbook Air is actually the main machine for a lot of people. I don't think that matters though; people appreciate nice keyboards even for 2 hour stints. 
The touch cover works for the Surface, because it's a cover. One of the main benefits of going with a laptop form factor is that you have room for a real keyboard. If you read their reason for going with this type of keyboard, it doesn't justify the sacrifice the way it does on a device like the Surface. For me to condiser this, the keyboard side would have to be incredibly thin, even for an ultrabook, and the battery life would have to be amazing. 
 

Actually, I sit and use my Surface Pro for about 13-15 hours per day between work and home, and it doesn't bother me one bit. I have a Type Cover though, not a Touch Cover, and yes it makes a huge difference. As for the active digitizer and stylus, the lack of is why I refused the XPS 10 and XPS 12. I have mixed feelings to be sure.

I also use my Surface Pro with Type Cover for hours on end. Works as good as, and in some cases better than, any of the Dell and other brand laptops I used as my primary machines for the 15 years prior. Touch Cover? Maybe I would have adapted, but the lack of function keys is makes it a definite no go.

Flat as the Touch cover? Wow.

In a laptop, I'd expect at least the equivalent of the Type cover.

Baby got bezel, that's for sure... I wish they'd try harder to minimize the bezel on these devices... I'm hoping the next revision of the Surface Pro will address this as well.

The bezel on the touch screen is also interactive and supports touch gestures commonly used in Windows 8. Not sure how much it would be reduced but it does serve a functional purpose.

On a tablet I find the bezel is a good thing it gives your palm a rest and doesn't cause you to have unwanted touches

When you use these devices as tablets, the bezels are essential to hold them without touching the digitizers.

Where exactly would you hold it if not for a bezel? You can't exactly wrap your hands around these, and I doubt seriously you're going to just hold it on your hand all day...

One of the problems with the Touch cover was its lack of rigidity on non-flat surfaces, this will address that. Plus the device is not final so there could be changes made that make it easier to type on than it first seems. Personally I would prefer this with a Bay Trail CPU so it can be thinner and lighter and a 1080p screen.
 
Seems OEM's are trying a bit harder with Windows 8 now, lets at least give these new devices a chance before we condemn them. Situation actually reminds me of Windows 8 and how so many people profess hate for it yet have never used it. More innovative thinking, I say.

Yeah it doesn't look to be like the touch cover. I would imagine the buttons press in just like any other laptop. Touch cover is too inaccurate for constant typing and Dell is not stupid enough to put similar technology into a laptop. 
Also, Broadwell chipset (the generation after Haswell) is due out in mid 2014, meaning you likely see laptops with that chipset in July-Dec right?
Dell has been known to give fantastic deals on their devices (I have an i7 beast of a laptop that I got for about $500 from their refurbished store, bought an XPS 10 tablet for less than $190).
I imagine that you can get a solid XPS 11 for around $500-600 at the right time.

Our friends over at The Verge got to go hands on with the keyboard, here is what they said:

"It is a curious set of buttons that Dell's opted for here — the prototype we saw had almost no travel to them, though touch was very quickly recognized. You might think of this as a Microsoft Surface with the keyboard cover left attached."

I'd like to emphasize the "almost" part of "almost no travel."

If we were talking about something that was the same as the Touch Cover on Surface, there wouldn't be any "almost" about it.

That leads me to believe we're talking about something slightly different.

I'd like to empahsize that I never said it was exactly like the Touch Cover. Simply a reference point for comparison, as that is the closest you will get to the Dell XPS 11 experience before it is released. :)

I see it as they are trying to improve on the complaints from the Yoga, people said it didn't feel right in your hands in tablet mode because of the keyboard on the back. With the non moving keyboard it will hopefully feel better in your hands in tablet mode but maybe at the expense of typing on it in laptop mode.

This is a nice device and some design ques from the XPS12 (which I was given from work and I absolutely love) look to have been implemented. The resolution seems nice for a small device and would probably attract the photo/video editor or media creator which is what most of their XPS line is really geared towards. I have an XPS15 laptop as well and I bought it at the time because it performed extremely well for at video rendering/photo editing according to benchmarks many sites did and for the price I have not been disappointed! Hopefully this does just as well for Dell.

Confusing to me why they didn't make this detachable. What is the benefit of this? Just flat out dumb.

Now you have a thick heavy tablet and a laptop with a mediocre keyboard. Worst of both worlds.

Why the worst of both worlds? I constantly see people buying keyboards and attachment for their Ipads and other tablets because they want a physical keyboard. Plus its an Ultrabook (has to be under 5lbs which it clearly is believe it or not). Its not going to be as light as many tablets out there but for a full featured computer replacement its quite light. If anything it is the best of both worlds...

sounds great for an 11" device
 
the keyboard on the S7 13.3" ultrabook is deplorable so might as well go thinner.
 
that said the yoga 13 is the best notebook on the market by far. next version could take it's 8 hour battery life to 10-12.

I'm on a market for a laptop, and I really like Dell, robust machines, but agree with most of you regarding the keyboard.

To me all is fine, but for heaven's sake, when are we getting a pad or tablet with windows pro and sim card capability.
WPCentral already informed me about the ATIV Samsung, but I'm not a Samsung person.
When are the other companies like hp, Dell, Asus, etc, going to start that?
The iPad is way ahead on pads, but again I don't lik ios

On paper this looks like the perfect device for me. Given there is no major shortcoming in practice, this just became the prime candidate to be my next.

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What?!  The touch cover keyboard is great.  I have a Surface PRO  and what I love the most about it it's the touch cover, it's a perfectly sized keyboard that doesn't add to the size!!!
 
 
 
 

I agree!  I LOVE the the touch cover.  One HUGE benefit is that it is completely silent to type on in quiet environments.  Have you ever heard someone clacking away on a normal keyboard in the library or a meeting?
 
And what is the deal with people who can't touch type without squishy keys?  I have typed for many years and I could accurately type on a flat countertop if I had to.  The squishy keys just wear my fingers out.

 

Just like the touch cover?
 
Um, keys are backlit, NOT like the touch cover.
Device is rigid and balanced for lap typing, NOT like the touch cover.
Keys have haptic feedback, NOT like the touch cover.
 
So yes, except for being completely different than the touch cover it is exactly the same.

Motionless keyboard?  Do you really enjoy the feeling of all those squishy buttons when using the Yoga in tablet mode?  Really?  Also, if Dell includes haptic feedback and optional sound with the keyboard, who needs squishy keys?  I have a Surface Pro with touch keyboard and I can touch type on it faster than on a normal keyboard because I don't have to mash the buttons, just barely touch them.
 
I simply do not understand how reviewers seem to want everything new but then freak out when someone tries something new.  For example, the apoplexy over the R7 having the trackpad above the keys.  I always HATED having the trackpad at the bottom as it gets in the way.  Above makes much more sense but to read reviewers the trackpad placement utterly ruins an otherwise great design.
 
Think out side the box people.  I'll be buying the XPS 11 the second it goes on sale.

I think this is a really nice machine. It is very competitive to the MacBook Air (11"). I think if they price this the same Dell has a good chance of selling a few of these. I'm not too bothered about the flat keyboard. When I'm out and about I'm happy using it in touch mode and for typing the odd email or so the touch keyoard is fine (Or just use the stylus - Wacom Digitizer, yay!). When I'm home/office I'll just hook it up to a big monitor and keyboard anyway.
Looking forward to this! :)