Category Archives: Tablet PC

tablet PCs run Windows (with some exceptions) and have pressure-sensitive screens.

Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Two low-cost (really!) tablet PCs for drawing in 2017

cheap tablet pc for drawing

Cheap tablet PC for drawing in 2017? Acer Spin 1 and Lenovo Miix 320 fill the bill

Are you looking for a lightweight, powerful, low-cost digital-sketchbook with a pressure-sensitive pen that runs Windows? Now, a cheap tablet PC for drawing and general use can be had.

These affordable tablet PCs in 2017 are filling the recent void. Both have active pen support and use Windows Ink to keep you inking happily. These are perfect for commuting, taking to class, or backpacking.

These two art-capable PCs are actually both economical and decent. Usually, a cheap tablet PC has a low-res display, but these both have HD. Don’t expect these to become your main computers, unless your demands are not that high.

 

Lenovo Miix 320

Lenovo-Miix-320-review

Lenovo Miix 320. Photo courtesy Lenovo

Lenovo is aiming this at “millennials” who have “side hustles”–well, they’ve gotta have an angle. The Miix 320 is for anyone who wants a low-priced Windows tablet with active pen support, via the optional Lenovo Active Pen. The PC is a 2-in-1 detachable with a full keyboard,

While it’s not ideal for professional or resource-intensive use, since it’s not that powerful, you can still do a lot on it.

The Miix 320 has an Atom x5 Cherry Trail processor, Intel HD graphics, up to 128 GB storage, and full FHD touchscreen.

It’s nice and light–the tablet sans keyboard weighs just 1.2 lbs (550g), and 2.25 lbs (1.02 kg) with the keyboard attached.

The Miix 320’s battery life is up to 10 hours, only 17.5 mm thick. Dolby speakers pump up the volume.

This package is petite at 9.8 x 7″ (249  X 178 mm) and only .68″ (17.5 mm) thick. So you can easily put this in a backpack or small travel bag.

It’s got Windows Hello login capabilities and comes in Platinum Silver and Snow White.

Download the spec sheet.

See the Miix on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international shoppers

 

Acer Spin 1 (new version)

acerspin1review

Acer Spin 1. Image via Acer

The Acer Spin 1 has been updated and is coming out July 2017. It’s still a really affordable convertible notebook that takes the Acer Active pen, which has a Synaptics digitizer. This new and improved Spin 1 has an all-metal chassis unusual in this budget category, and has a full HD display.

Its processor is Intel Pentium or Intel Celeron. Weight is 2.76 lbs or 1.25 kg, not that extremely light, but tablet PCs do tend to be heavier because of the digitizer layer. It’s thin at .55 in. (14mm) and has 4G DDR3 memory. RAM options are 32, 64, or 128 3MMC storage. IT has antimicrobial Gorilla Glass 5, with embedded ionic silver to slay germs forever.

It’s full size at 11.6″, not a mini computer. Its battery life is not bad, up to 10 hours. It can be posed in laptop, tent, display, or tablet modes, with the wide-view IPS screen offering 178-degree viewing angles.

Notably, its precision touchpad supports Windows 10 gestures. This kind of touchpad is usually found on much pricier devices, such as the Surface Pro.

You can turn on a Bluelight shield, which will make the screen look pinkish, but save your eyes and melatonin.

It’s also got fast Intel Wireless-AC. Its ports are Bluetooth 4.0, a USB 3.1, a USB 2.0, and HDMI, and a microSD card slot.

OK, it’s a cheap tablet PC, so it’s not the fastest, nor does it have the best keyboard. But it has its good qualities for art. Best for students and sketchers.

See it on Amazon (U.S.)

Amazon international link

Art software

Because these are not that powerful, I don’t suggest running full Photoshop on them. Though you can put it on, chances are it will lag if you try to do much. So use smaller apps such as ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Elements, or Windows mobile apps like Fresh Paint or Sketchable.

See also See also Mytrix/Cube i7 review, a cheap tablet PC for artists

See our post on the best tablet PCs for digital artists

Learn how to pick the best drawing tablet.

best tablet pc

Best tablet PCs for digital artists: Top Ten for 2017

Best tablet PC: laptops and 2-in-1s for artists in 2017

samsungnotebook9pro

What’s the best tablet PC? Here’s what to look for:

The best tablet PC for digital artists has an power, portability, and a great display.  The very top have a dGPU to give Photoshop filters a boost–not a necessity for all artists. All these computers are great for digital drawing, sketching, notetaking, and photo editing. And they’re portable to boot. All have an active pen with state-of-the-art digitizers including Wacom, N-trig, and Synaptics.

Best of all, a lot of these have 15 and 16″ displays–a generous canvas area just makes drawing so much easier.

Some are powerful enough for video editing. A lot of these are not just the best for art, but the best tablet PC for general use, productivity, students, and professionals from all walks of life.

To make it easier, links open in the Amazon store in or near the country you’re in.

Here are our picks for the top ten tablet PCs for artists in 2017:

 

best tablet pc mobilestudio pro

Wacom MobileStudio Pro

Who wouldn’t want one of these?. With its buttery smooth patented Wacom EMR digitizer and generous sizes of 13 and 16, the MobileStudio Pro tops our list in drool-worthy tablet PCs. The 16 has an option with a 3D camera/scanner and NVIDIA graphics. With its chrome Express Keys, quiet fan, and Pro Pen 2 with 8,192 levels, there’s a lot to work with.

With the optional Wacom Link, you can hook it up to a Mac or PC and use it as a Cintiq. It gets 95% of the Adobe RGB color gamut, making it a great tablet PC for photo editing as well as art. This is certainly a best tablet PC for Photoshop. Runs WIndows 10.

See the MSP on Amazon

Read our MobileStudio Pro review

 

 

Lenovo Yoga 720

lenovoyoga720-15-tabletpc

Lenovo Yoga 720

The Lenovo Yoga 720 goes where no convertible laptop has gone before–it has a dGPU and works with the Lenovo Active Pen, a Wacom pen with 4096 levels. It’s a convertible laptop that folds into 4 positions. That means the keyboard doesn’t detach, making it an excellent all-aroudn productivity machine as well as art device. Tablet mode makes it easy to draw on, though you won’t be able to access the keyboard in this mode. Windows 10 is the operating system. The Active Pen is responsive and accurate.

See it at Lenovo

See it at Best Buy

Read our Yoga 720 review

 

Microsoft 2017 Surface Pro

new surface pro 2017

Microsoft 2017 Surface Pro

You might think of this model as the Surface Pro 5. The new Surface Pro’s pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as tilt, and lets you shade with the side. The pen is sold separately. The keyboard is covered in Alacantra, a fabric that’s easy to clean and gives you a nice soft place to rest your mitts. The PixelSense display is crystal clear.

If you want a GPU, though, you’ll have to get the Surface Book, which has that option. The Book is “laptop first,” with a metal keyboard that detaches. Its battery life is not as long as the Pro.

See 2017 Surface Pro at Microsoft

Read our 2017 Surface Pro review

See Surface Book at Microsoft

Read our Surface Book review

Vaio Z Canvas

 

Vaio Z Canvas

Vaio Z Canvas

The Vaio Z Canvas has integrated graphics, but its Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 graphics is as powerful as a dGPU. This little tablet is a mobile workstation on which you can edit video. It has an N-trig pen with 1,024 levels, and you can also use a Surface Pen on it, though don’t count on getting more than 1,024. The number of levels don’t matter a whole lot.

The Vaio Z Canvas has some nifty art-centric features. The keyboard does not attach but connects via RF. The Z Canvas has a 12.3″ screen and has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is nice for drawing. The display gets 95% of the Adobe color gamut, making it sharp display makes it a best tablet PC for photographers. There are on-screen controls aimed at artists, and you can map it to multiple monitors.

The Vaio Z Flip is similar, with an attached keyboard.

See the Vaio Z Canvas on Amazon

Read our Vaio Z Canvas review

 

 

Lenovo Miix 720

miix720review

Lenovo Miix 720

T Lenovo Miix 720 lacks a dGPU, but is a nice all-around detachable that also takes the Lenovo Active Pen. It has frequently been compared to the Surface Pro 4 specs-wise, but has the Wacom pen. It has a QHD screen that’s a sunny 400 nits. Lenovo has a wide variety of Miixes with active pens. It’s a great tablet PC for drawing.

Though it’s a little older, the 1st gen ThinkPad Yoga 14 is still around and has NVIDIA graphics.

 

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

 

Super skinny convertible laptop has the Dell Active Pen, which uses Wacom ES. This Dell won an innovation award at CES. Though its processor is not quite as strong as the Dell XPS that’s lacking a pen, it still has plenty of power. (That other Dell rivals the MacBook Pro but has no active pen; this is one is not quite as fast.)

It’s light and portable. Its Infinity Edge screen is nearly bezel-less. The pen gets 4096 levels. There are both HD and higher-res UHD display options, at a bright 400 nits.. The keyboard doesn’t detach, but you can fold it all the way back.

See it on Amazon

Read our review

 

 

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

samsungnotebook9pro

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

With an i7 processor and Wacom EMR. Samsung has created a powerful all-around notebook. It has imported Air Control from its Android tablet–a radial menu that can be controlled with the S Pen. The included S Pen now rocks 4096 levels of pressure and gets tilt in certain apps.

A big 15.6″ or 13.3″ display, 4K UHD (3840×2160) with a bright 350 nits, SSD, realtime HDR, HDMI, USB 2.0 and USB-C and a lock port all conspire to make this one a keeper.

It’s a bit weighty at 4.5 lbs. and the battery isn’t the longest at 6.5 hours, but for a 15.6″ screen I can live with that. This is one of the more powerful of the Samsung tablet PC lineup.

See it on Amazon

International Amazon (putting this separately as the listing may not be available all over)

 

 

Asus Transformer T304UA 2-in-1

Asus Transformer Pro T304

Asus Transformer Pro T304

The Asus Transformer T304UA is a powerful detachable PC with an included Synaptics pen.
There’s an i7 processor with a 256GB SSD and 8GB Ram. Battery life goes to 8 hours. With the keyboard attached, it still weighs under 2 lbs and is super thin at .3″. The 2164 x 1440 FHD resolution is decent.

One notable feature that makes this a good tablet PC for artists is that the display covers the full RGB color gamut. The Asus has a Windows 10 touch login with fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello. The included keyboard is backlit.

The only drawback is its Synaptics pen, which is a bit less accurate for drawing than its competitors such as Lenovo, which uses Wacom, and Microsoft’s N-trig pen.

See it on Amazon

 

 

HP Spectre 360 15

 

HP Spectre 360 best tablet PC

HP Spectre 360

Convertible ultrabook with 360-degree display comes in 13″ and 15.6″. This powerful convertible tablet PC touts 16 hours of battery life. It’s got a 4K display, Thunderbolt, NVIDIA graphics, over 12 hours of battery life, Bang & Olufsen speakers. There’s also a far more affordable model without so much power, but still not bad. A really nice-looking, light, and powerful device.  However, its Synaptics pen is just a bit less accurate than Wacom and Microsoft’s pens.

 

 

Apple iPad Pro

 

ipad pro

iPad Pro 12.9″ with Apple Pencil

While you may not see Apple as a tablet PC, in fact its A9X processor with 12 graphics cores is as powerful in some ways as one. So I think it deserves a place here. It doesn’t run desktop apps, but apps like Procreate and Medibang offer a lot of the features of Photoshop, including the ability to create brushes, use lots of layers, high-res files, 3D, and your favorite filters.
With the Astropad App, you can use the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a wireless Cintiq-like input device with your Mac.

The new iPad Prof or 2017 even has a Windows-like File Explorer, so you’ll be able to find your stuff. Runs iOS.

We like the bigger, 12.9″ iPad Pro for drawing. Its 3:2 aspect ratio is like a sheet of paper.

See on Amazon

Read our iPad Pro review

Hope you’ve enjoyed this list of 2017’s best tablet PCs for artists. Feel free to chime in.

end of best tablet PC for artists

yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720 review: 13″ and 15″ 2-in-1 with all the trimmings

Lenovo Yoga 720: 2-in-1 is loaded for art

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yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720

The Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 goes where no convertible tablet PC has gone before. It combines a pen that gets 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with a 4K screen and NVIDIA graphics. This noteworthy hybrid is more proof that Lenovo is forging ahead with innovative art devices. The  Yoga 720 tops the Yoga 710, which also had the dGPU.

 

Type of tablet

Convertible hybrid laptop (nondetachable)

Digitizer: Wacom ES, 4096 levels of pressure

Pen: Lenovo Active Pen 2 or any pen that works on Wacom ES

Features

360 degree “flip-and-fold” design
Models go from 13.3″ to 15.6″ HD screen (1920×1080) to UHD (4K0 screens, i5 to i7, 256GB to 1TB storage, Intel HD Graphics 620 to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB

15.6″ weight starts at  4.41 lbs (2kg)
13.3″ weight 2.9 lbs.
.07″ wide
Two USB Type-C with Thunderbolt
The higher-end one has micro HDMI and an SD card reader.

13″ model comes in Platinum Silver, Iron Grey, and Copper. The 15″ comes in Iron Grey and Silver.

Lenovo states that on the models with the NVIDIA GTX 1050 card, you can edit photos, play advanced games, and render multiple videos at once.

The HD versions have 8GB RAM and the 3840×2160 4K models have 16. The memory is upgradeable if you DIY.

lenovo yoga 720 multimode

The Yoga in all its poses.This is the 13″ mode.

At the bottom of the post is a downloadable spec sheet with more detail.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 (YOGA 7200 151KB) has  up to the latest Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processors. The 15″ Yoga 720 at the moment is the fastest in its class, which is convertible laptops. Like many Lenovo products, there’s a dizzying array of configurations, so I’m summarizing them here rather than writing each one out.

The highest-powered and largest one will probably excite digital artists the most. That would be the one that’s 15″ and has discrete NVIDIA graphics, suitable for rendering Photoshop filters and for gaming.

The fact that you can add your own memory is a plus. Many PC hybrid laptops have the memory soldered in and don’t let you upgrade.

The fast processor also lets you boot up quickly.

Unlike some thinner and less powerful ultraportables, this laptop does have fans, and it can run warm. The vents are in the back.

 

Yoga 720 vs. Yoga 520

The Lenovo Yoga 520 is a more entry-level option with only has Intel i3 and 15 and HD. It has a 14″ screen that also has the Wacom digitizer. It also has the option of the NVIDIA GeForce 940 MX graphics card. It’s a good even more affordable option if you’re not a power user; you can use Photoshop and other Adobe software on the i5, and on the i3 too but we suggest the i5 if you’re going to get the Yoga 520. The 520 will be for sale in July 2017.

Want a detachable instead? Try the Miix 720

If you’re looking for a powerful detachable, the Lenovo Miix 720 is not quite as strong as the Yoga 720 but it does let you take off the keyboard.

Pen and drawing

The Active Pen 2 isn’t available yet, but the Active Pen 1 is smooth and accurate.

The Yoga 720 and 520 work with the not-yet-shipping Pen 2 or with any Wacom ES pen, so it won’t be difficult to find a pen. Some product info says the “new release” Active Pen 1 is capable of getting the whole 4096.

Though Wacom ES is lower resolution than EMR, there’s practically zero parallax (distance from pen to line). The pressure sensitivity and palm rejection work well, and I can’t tell the difference between 2048 and 4096. The Lenovo Active Pens do not have tilt sensitivity.

A 15″ surface is a great size for drawing, and there are few portable tablet PCs around this size, besides an older Dell Inspiron 7568 and the MobileStudio Pro 16 by Wacom. The 13″ screen is a good drawing size, too. The Yoga 520 has a 14″ screen.

When the computer is in tablet mode the keyboard will be facing the surface but will be recessed. The keyboard will be disabled, so you can’t use keyboard shortcuts. The clamshell design does let you open the laptop up flat, so you could keep it open.

Portability

The larger, 4.4 lbs. model of the 720 is pretty good for a 15″ screen. You should carry a sleeve to keep the pen in, as there’s no silo. The 13″, at 2.9 lbs, is not the lightest laptop, but still carryable. Since it’s a clamshell, there’s more protection than you’d find in something with a soft keyboard such as the Surface Pro 4.

Screen

The IPS screen is antiglare but still glossy. Viewing angles are pretty good.

Brightness-wise, at about 280-300 nits it’s bright enough, but colors are not as vibrant as some laptops, but it’s not bad.

This nondetachable laptop has a 360-degree hinge, letting you bend the Yoga to poses of laptop, stand, tent, and tablet. “360 degrees” may sound like you can also rotate the screen; you can’t. It bends on hinges, like other Lenovo Yogas.

The screen gets over 100% of sRGB, better than most laptops, but it’s not wide gamut, so those who need Adobe RGB coverage will have to look elsewhere.

Design

The large lower bezel on the bottom is an odd design touch but I think it’s to make it easier to pick up the device in tablet mode without getting fingerprints on it. The other 3 sides have a very thin bezel. Designwise, the Yoga 720 doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t have the distinctive watchband hinge of some Yogas. One cool thing is the fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

Keyboard

The island-style keyboard has keys with key travel not as high as the most comfortable keys, which are deeper, but the keys are fine. They are about 1.2 mm, and I prefer to type on 1.4, yet 1.2 is OK. The keyboard is full-size and backlit. Since the keys are recessed when the laptop is in tablet mode it makes sense for them not to be taller.

lenovoyoga720review

Yoga 720 keyboard and hinge

Pros

value
13″ and 15″
NVIDIA card option
up to 4096 levels of pressure (depending on pen)
4K option
can use any Wacom ES pen
choice of colors
127% of sRGB
boots quickly

Cons

Not amazing battery life
USB ports only USB-3, may be a difficulty for some users
colors not super-vibrant
no Adobe RGB
some fan noise

Battery Life

Lenovo claims 9 hours battery life for the HD and 8 for the UHD (4k), but this would depend a lot on use. A 4k screen and graphics rendering is going to take up more power and drain the power faster.

User Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews

Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews have been positive, though the product is still new.

The lower-spec model is OK too, but without the dGPU it doesn’t differentiate itself a lot from others in the same category.

The lack of Adobe RGB may be a sticking point for some.

The verdict

This is not the fanciest-looking tablet PC, but the one with NVIDIA is high-performance. Lenovo is not not adding a premium to the price for the art capabilities. The specs of the higher -end model compete with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, which of course has more specialized art features. The 720 is a good value for a powerful art PC.

The large size alone is enough reason to appreciate this release. It fills a gap that’s been missing since the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 1st gen, namely that of discrete graphics. This Lenovo  Yoga 720 review is a thumbs-up, and we’re adding it to our top list of tablet PCs because of its dGPU and Wacom pen.

Yoga 720_15 inch_Spec Sheet (PDF download)

See the Yoga 720 at Best Buy

See it at Lenovo.com

The Lenovo site has descriptions of each model.

The Yoga 520 14″ will be available in July 2017 in hues of Mineral Grey, Metallic Gold, and Onyx
Black.

Here’s a short video by Lenovo.

 

Here’s a Lenovo Yoga 720 review from Lisa Gade of Mobile Tech Review.

 

Compare:

HP Spectre 360

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Lenovo Miix 720
Surface Pro 4

More about top tablets for artists at homepage

See our top 10 best tablet pc’s for art

end of Lenovo Yoga 720 review

newsurfacepro5

New Surface Pro 5 2017 with 4,096-level Pen

newsurfacepro5

New Surface Pro 5 sports pen with 4,096 levels and tilt

new surface pro 5 pen

New Surface Pen for Surface Pro 5, with increased levels, tilt, and a rubber eraser

Microsoft has now readied the new Surface Pro 5, which is actually just called the Surface Pro, for release (so I guess it’s time to party like it’s 2013, when the first Surface Pro came out). The new SP is available for preorder. This updated 2-in-1 tablet/laptop has some very interesting offerings for the art crowd.

The biggest difference is the new Surface Pen, which has 4x more levels of pressure sensitivity, making it 4,192, like the new Lenovo Active Pen 2. It also has tilt including shading. It will have the usual button that opens OneNote and other apps. The pen requires an AAAA battery.

This isn’t the Wacom-Microsoft pen we’ve been hearing about (at least, no one has said there’s any Wacom connection is so far). Microsoft is still going with N-trig.

The new pen also still has a rubberish eraser, and hopefully will still have the nib kit with a variety of nibs with different points and textures in a nib kit, like the current Surface Pen.

If the new pen sounds like the Apple Pencil, it underlines how Microsoft sees the iPad Pro as the rival to this version of the Surface Pro. Indeed, the upgraded pen may tilt the scales for artists frustrated with the iPad Pro’s inability to use desktop programs and inefficient file organization.

I’ll have to try out the new pen before knowing if it’s really as sensitive as Apple Pencil. Up to now, I haven’t been that big a fan of the Surface Pen for drawing, but this new one sounds like a different ballgame.

Surface Dial works on Surface Pro 5

surface dial

Surface Dial

Though the new Surface Pro “5” doesn’t look all that different from the Surface Pro 4, it will also work with the puckish Surface Dial, which brings up an array of on-screen menus aimed at designers.

Now, whether or not the Dial will be of much use on a small screen is hard to say. I’m a believer in the potential of the Dial, but right now it doesn’t seem like a must-have accessory. It makes more sense on the gloriously large Surface Studio.

Surface Pro 4 vs. new Surface Pro 5 2017

The pen is the biggest difference. The old Surface Pen had 1,024 levels and no tilt. This one will have tilt for shading; it’s unclear what else they mean by tilt, since they only mention shading. The Apple Pencil both has angle sensitivity with the tip and shading with the side.

Windows Ink apps include Sketchable, Plumbago, Mental Canvas, Drawboard PDF, and StaffPad. Of course, you can use the pen with any program, including Adobe Creative Cloud.

The pen will have backwards compatibility with all the Surfaces going back to Surface 3, including the Surface Book and Studio. It won’t work on the earlier Surface 2 and original Surface Pro, which were Wacom-penabled. It’s safe to assume it will only deliver previous levels of pressure sensitivity on those.

New Surface hinge makes kickstand more adjustable

Another aspect that’s different and consequential for digital artists is that the attached kickstand will go lower then previous ones. The updated hinge is deeper. The angle is designed to work better for those using the pen. So now the pen use is built into the design.

The new design also has more rounded edges and is “softer,” more Apple-like.

Like its Surface cousins, it comes in configurations of Intel 7th Gen. M3, i5, and i7.

The PixelSense screen of the Surface Pro 2017 is the same size and resolution as the PixelSense SP4–sharp, but not 4K.

The company says the new Surface Pro will get up to 13.5 hours of battery life. That reflects a considerably stronger processor. The processors are now Kaby Lake (7th gen) not Skylake (6th gen). Photoshop rendering and video processing should work faster on this.

The new Surface Pro 5 pen is sold separately, as are the Dial and Type Cover. (The Surface 4 included the Surface Pen.)

The new Surface Pro’s graphics cards will be Intel HD Graphics 615 for the M3, 620 for the i5, and Iris Plus Graphics 640 for the i7. These are next-generation and a bit faster.

The high-res PixelSense screen will be 10-pt. multitouch, 12.3″ diagonal, with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which we like.

The keyboard is upgraded with improved key travel.

Each model will weigh about 1.7 lbs or 766-786g, making it easy to carry around.

Microsoft is talking about how it goes from “laptop” mode to “studio” mode to “tablet” mode.

Apple may be getting nervous about the new Surface Pro 5. On the other hand, perhaps the competition will spur Apple to make a real laptop or even a monitor with an active digitizer.

Microsoft does plan to make a Surface Pro with LTE.

You can see or order the new Surface Pro (5) at Microsoft. Or see/order it on Amazon

See our article on the 10 top tablet PCs for art.

Read our homepage article to learn all about drawing tablets.

Dell-XPS-13-2-in-1-tablet-mode

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: Let’s get small

dellxps13-2-in-1reviewDell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: Sleek, but is it meek?

The Dell XPS 13 (9365) 2-in-1 convertible wonthet CES 2017 Innovation Award. The compact 2-in-1 looks similar to its non-pen predecessor, the Dell XPS 13. I was excited to see this penabled (OK, its AES and technically only Wacom EMR is penabled) version, but it does have its compromises for those who hope to put it through its paces for art.

See it on Amazon

The build quality is sturdy and the device is attractive, though it took me a while to appreciate its subtleties–at first glance it’s another laptop–but then I noticed its thinness, sturdiness, and small bezel.

Both have the Infinity Edge, a small bezel that allows the laptop to have the footprint of an 11″ laptop with a 13″ display. This model is slightly thinner than the original. This one is not a detachable, but a convertible with a 360-degree hinge. That makes it easier to type on than most detachables, which tend to have bouncy or loosely connected keyboards (the Microsoft Surface Book being an exception).

Like the Lenovo Yoga line, the XPS 2-in-1 can be set in four poses: laptop, tent, tablet, and stand.

The display is bright with wide viewing angle and rich blacks. The Infiniti Edge gives it a window-like feeling.

dellxps132in1review

The display on theDell XPS 13 2-in-1 is bright, with rich blacks.

Digitizer: Wacom AES (pen takes one AAAA battery)
2048 levels of pressure sensitivit

Pen: Dell Active Stylus (PN556W)

Processor
7th Gen. Intel i5-7Y54  to i7-7Y75


Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 615​

Display
13.3″ Full HD (1920×1080) or UltraSharp QHD (3200×1800)
10-point Multitouch
Brightness: 400 nits
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Color: over 100% Adobe sRGB% color gamut
Anti-reflective
Wide viewing angle of 170 degrees
4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
SSD: 128 GB to 1 TB
Build: machined aluminum
Gorilla Glass
Carbon fiber palm rest and deck
Steel and aluminum hinges

Dimensions
Thickness: 0.32-0.54”  inches (with/without keyboard in tablet mode) x 11.98″ x  7.8″
mm. 8 – 13.7  x 304 x 199
Weight: Starting at 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)​

Keyboard
Full size, backlit, chiclet, 1.33 mm travel

Pen dimensions
1.9 oz without battery, 7.3 in.
Microsoft Hello fingerprint scanner


Ports
Thunderbolt 3, two USB-C 3.1 ports, microSD, headset jack, Noble lock slot

Battery
46WHr battery (integrated, non-replaceable)

Battery Life
Around 8 hours of mixed use–longer on the HD screen.

 

The full-size keyboard has chiclet-style keys with 1.3 mm key travel.

Power

Dell’s engineers developed Dynamic Power Mode, which raises the performance of the Y chip while still managing to keep the device fairly cool without fans–it gets warm but not hot. It spits out bursts of energy in a type of Turbo Boost to keep things in balance.

Though Y chips are similar to Core M, Dell has gotten higher performance here. Battery life is quite good, and you can certainly multitask. Dell has succeeded in making a thin computer that cools itself.

But it’s not as fast as competitors Surface Pro 4, HP Spectre x360, or the original XPS 13.

Portability

At 2.7 lbs., it’s lightweight, and it only takes up the space of an 11″ laptop. It’s solid, not something you can comfortably hold in one hand.

Battery Life

Good–8 hours on the i5 and up to 10 hours on the i7, both with mixed use.

Drawing on the XPS 13 2-in-1

The Dell Active Stylus glides smoothly and sensitivity is good. Palm rejection works well. Accuracy is good too as is hover range. No issues here. There’s no place to attach the pen to the computer, no magnet, clip, or anything. The Dell Active Pen is a little stubby at 7.3″ but it’s not much of an issue.

The trackpad is nice and smooth and isn’t too stiff. The keyboard is comfortable.

As scenic as it makes the computer, with the image on the display almost melding with its surroundings, the narrow bezel could prove a distraction when drawing. I suspect one reason for the Cintiq’s large bezel is to frame the art and visually isolate it from its environment, as a picture frame does.

If you want to draw at an angle, such as 20 degrees, you can use a separate stand i. Or you could place an object, such as a book, between the lid and keyboard.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 works with the Dell Active Stylus, a Wacom AES pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. I tried the pen on it and found it worked well. The screen is slippery, like most laptops.

In my short time with it I got an error message when trying to open OneNote. Other programs opened smoothly. The Internet worked well, with videos looking sharp on the display, with deep blacks.

When there is less bezel, there’s a pleasant blending into the surroundings.

User reactions

People who have used this for non-art use seem overall pleased with it. Its design, display, the typing, and the responsive pen have all received praise. The computer was a star at CES for its slimness.

However, one user offering a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review complained it was impossible to turn off Adaptive Brightness, even if it is turned off in the power settings. I read they may issue a patch for this, but until they do, having it adjust its brightness on its own with no way to stop it would be detrimental to creating art. Update: They have issued a fix–thank you to the commenter who sent this. Here’s the link to the firmware update if you need it.

Color

Tests have shown that  thought brighness and contrast are good, color accuracy is not that high. It also doesn’t have Adobe RGB. It does have over 100% of sRGB.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review

The steel hinges covered in aluminum keep the Dell sturdy.

 

 

Pros

Wacom pen
Has the footprint of a smaller, 11″ computer
Good battery life
Quiet, fanless
Light, slim, portable
Bright display
Comfortable, backlit keyboard
Handles multitasking and light gaming
includes USB 3.1 dongle

Cons

Processor not as fast as the fastest for serious digital art
Some users have experienced bugs
Adaptive brightness issue, unless Dell issues a fix
No place to keep pen
Doesn’t come with pen
Pen is a little short
Color accuracy not the best
Cannot remove battery
Front Webcam is below the screen
Need dongles for peripherals

The Verdict

The laptop is innovative in its design both inside and out. It’s aimed at consumers who want versatility, portability, and long battery life.

It’s a fine computer, and the power difference is not enormous compared to other pen convertibles. You can use Photoshop, Illustrator etc. on it but it will not be the very fastest. In concluding this Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review, I can say it’s OK for digital artists but not the most powerful. For that, something at mobile-workstation level is better. It’s fine for moderate art use.

Dell is taking the artist market seriously with the Dell Canvas, a large tablet monitor with an array of innovations and connections to Microsoft. Perhaps Dell will come out with a more art-targeted laptop.

See more Dell XPS 2-in-1 reviews on Amazon.

Learn more finding the best art tablet PC for your needs.

end of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review