There's a conundrum these days in choosing between a desktop, a notebook or a tablet. Starting at $599 (about £395, AU$758), the Dell XPS 18 makes the decision easier by offering a little of everything (or at least two of the three) in one package. Not all configurations are available globally.
What makes this 18.5-inch, Windows 8.1 tablet so appealing is a pair of rubberized feet, which allow it to stand upright when you want a desktop experience. You can also lay it down at an angle for a reading mode, or the feet can be folded in so that the tablet goes flat. The back has rubber strips on it, so you don't have to worry about it slipping, and the bezel sports rubberized edges that can withstand a few minor bumps.
Dell also includes a stand with select models, or it can be purchased separately for $99 (around £65, AU$124). Simply drop the tablet into the stand, switch on the included wireless mouse and keyboard, and you have yourself an all-in-one PC.
At about 5 pounds, the XPS 18 weighs about the same as large laptops, although its wide screen will make it difficult to pack into an ordinary bag. The super-sized slate has two USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, and a headphone jack. Slim speakers fire out from the sides, and they are surprisingly loud with decent stereo separation.
Even with its relatively light weight, this isn't the kind of tablet that you'll want to keep on your lap for long periods of time. The vented side gets uncomfortably hot, even when watching streaming video, making it necessary to put the system down.
Beyond that, the XPS 18 is an excellent large screen tablet. The tablet's 1,920 x 1,080, LED touchscreen makes everyday tasks like reading the news very enjoyable. Although the screen has some reflectiveness, the glare isn't too distracting.
Taking a Stand
Back to the XPS 18's stand, this sharp-looking and dense bit of metal, with a non-slip bottom, can tilt until the screen is completely horizontal. Ideal for those that don't necessarily want to sit in front of the computer all day, the stand is ideal for those that may want to use it from a standing position once in a while.
The screen feels very secure in its stand, and the power cord plugs directly into the base, which removes the hassle of wires and allows the tablet to be charged through a number of prongs on its bottom edge. Lining the screen up with the charging prongs can be a little tricky at times, but there's nothing terrible about it. When you want to go mobile, you simply lift the screen off the stand and carry it away.
The included mouse and keyboard have a good size and weight to them as well. The aluminum lined keyboard, with its chiclet keys, provide a pleasant working experience, although some may take issue with its tiny arrow keys and how the home keys are awkwardly lined up across its top.