CES is a great time of year for the techno-junkies among us, and one of the more intriguing toys that was announced this year was from an unlikely source — Dell — in the 13-inch 2-in-1 laptop/tablet.

Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 has a good amount of wow factor, inside an impressively slim, good looking hybrid form factor. My initial impression is that this is a fairly standard laptop, with a nice (touch) screen, great internals and a lightweight yet solid feel behind it. Is it more than a standard laptop hybrid though? Let’s dig in and have a look.

Design and presentation

For starters, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a really good looking laptop; reflecting the same style and grace of the original Dell XPS 13 and yet, the 2-in-1 variant is inexplicably thinner and arguably more premium looking. There are some changes — ditching the full-sized USB ports, for one, and using a USB-C charger instead of a proprietary one — but the XPS 13 2-in-1 remains a professional, well-constructed device.

With its lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre construction, the XPS 13 2-in-1 would easily be at home in a boardroom, a university bar or lecture theatre, or on your lap in an airport lounge.

There are a lot of similarities between the XPS 13-inch and the Macbook Pro range, starting with the general feel of the keyboard and the back-lit keys which makes it easy to use in a darkened room (or, in fact, in any room).

The other part which has impressed me thus far is the battery life, which is very good. I’m getting about six hours of work time out of the battery on a daily basis, and that’s without engaging the battery saver mode. This is a really solid start and I’d be pretty confident to take this interstate on day trips without feeling the need to lug the power pack around with me.

Chris has taken an XPS 13 2-in-1 to Barcelona to cover Mobile World Congress, and his lasted through a eight to ten hours of TV viewing before the low battery indicator came on. Battery life is going to be a strong selling point for this device.

What makes the XPS 13 2-in-1 great

Where the XPS 13-inch 2-in-1 comes into its own is the fact that is can actually fold back on itself and operate in tablet mode. Granted, a 13-inch tablet is a bit on the large size, and it’s perhaps a bit heavy to use the same way you would use an iPad or a Samsung tablet, but the functionality is there. In this setup, you can use the touch-screen to drive everything, from interacting with user interface elements to using the on-screen keyboard.

This is best used for consuming information rather than lots of typing, but the option is there.

If the tablet mode isn’t for you, the tent mode might be. It’s a great option for consuming media content because you can sit the XPS 13 2-in-1 on a table, or even your lap, and just enjoy a video on that great big screen without having the keyboard in the way. The other thing that the tent mode is good for is video conferencing; to get the slim bezels around the screen, Dell has had to position the web camera at the bottom of the screen. Video calls in laptop mode will give your friends a great view of what’s up your nose, but in the tent / A-frame mode, the camera will be at the top of the screen, for a more traditional view of your face rather than your nostrils.

As we spend more time with this little gem, there will undoubtedly be more that comes to light, but if you haven’t already picked up on it – the Dell XPS 13-inch 2 in 1 leaves a really strong first impression.

What questions would you like answered in our full review of the XPS 13-inch 2 in 1?