If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about Microsoft it’s that they’re not frugal in the investment of technology for us hard-working sales teams. Several months ago Mr Ballmer announced that all Microsoft full-time employees would be issued with the necessary kit for the new generation of products, namely:
- A Windows Phone 8 phone (check, a Nokia 920)
- A Microsoft Surface RT (check, just before Christmas)
- A new touch-screen laptop for Windows 8
The new laptop program started a couple of months ago when our IT team issued a number of choices of Windows 8 devices. When I say “number of choices” there were indeed a number of choices – three Lenovo models, HP, Samsung, Asus, Dell and the Microsoft Surface Pro. I was extremely tempted by the Surface Pro, but thought it was too similar in form-factor to the Surface RT I already owned.
I was also tempted by the Lenovo Carbon X1 – I’ve had a number of ThinkPads over the past fifteen years and have got very familiar with the little red pointing device in the middle of the keyboard. The X1 was better-specced and lighter than my current ThinkPad T420, and featured a touch-screen – but it’s form-factor was the familiar ‘clam-shell’ design. Having said that, I was quite impressed (and a little disturbed) when the chap from Lenovo picked the whole laptop up by one corner of the lid and I saw the screen bend. The wonders of carbon fibre, but it reminded me of my school days when my class mates mistook the word “shatter-proof” on a ruler for “indestructible”.
I thought it would be interesting to get something a bit different, something that’s more of a talking point. Weighing up the alternatives I opted for the Dell XPS 12 – it boasts an i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SSD, and a 12 inch touch-screen capable of a 1920 x 1080 resolution. I’ve always thought that Dell laptops look a bit boring, but the carbon fibre and aluminium finish of the XPS 12 make it an attractive and stylish device. The XPS 12’s most striking feature is the fact that the screen flips within its aluminium frame – the lid can then be closed with the screen facing upwards, thus turning it into a tablet. Dell state that the flip action has been tested to 20,000 flips, which means that over the course of the next three years I’ll safely be able to flip the screen eighteen times a day.
Seriously though, the XPS 12 is a joy to use in tablet mode. As you can imagine, with a new device, there’s quite of bit of set-up, installing and tweaking to be done, and I did a lot of this sitting on the sofa last night while a small dog snoozed on the top of my legs. Not a scenario where a physical keyboard would have been much use.
To finish off the experience I acquired a Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse – not only does it match the XPS 12 aesthetically, it’s better suited to desk working than the track-pad on the computer. Also, it doesn’t use up a USB port (important as the XPS 12 only has two).