Dell XPS 10 vs Microsoft Surface RT

Vs Paul Briden 16:13, 3 Dec 2012

Microsoft's Surface RT takes on Dell's new contender, the XPS 10

We take a look at two competing Windows RT hybrid tablets to see which one comes out on top. 

Form

Microsoft Surface RT - 274.6x172x9.4 mm, 680g

Dell XPS 10 - 9.2x274.7x177.3mm, 635g

Microsoft’s Surface RT is an extremely well made device, in fact the external build is one of its stand-out features.

It’s made from specially treated ‘VaporMg’ magnesium which feels similar to aluminium, although we can’t help but think Microsoft missed a trick by not giving it a brushed finish.

It’s more squared-off in design than most tablets, although the corners do have a slight curvature to them, everything else is very sharp and clean.

The edges contour at a 20-degree angle, narrowing towards the back panel and the device features an integrated kick-stand which fits flush to the bodywork when folded in.

The robust construction does come at a bit of a price, however, and we’re not talking about the monetary kind either. The Surface RT is on the heavier side as tablets go and its widescreen aspect ratio means that, for the most part, it’s best used with both hands.

It’s also clearly been designed with desktop use in mind, because as well as the kickstand there are the optional (though really rather necessary) keyboard dock covers.

The TypePad is the pick of these as the keys have real travel, making it much easier to use. It’s not much thicker than the equivalent TypeCover which is touch-sensitive and lacks any tactile feedback – while it’s certainly better than an on-screen keyboard it’s still not the best.

The irony surely won’t be lost on readers that, for something which imitates a laptop’s shape, the Surface is remarkably unusable on your lap.

This is because there’s no mechanism for it to stand up by itself and the oh-so-vital kick-stand doesn’t sit well on an uneven surface.

Essentially you either use it as a laptop at a desk or with the keyboard folded away as a tablet in your hands.

But, all that aside, it’s still an impressive piece of kit and on the exterior design alone it scores very well indeed.

Dell’s XPS 10 is very different from the Surface. Most obviously, it has embraced a more rounded design than Microsoft’s offering with heavily curved corners, but it also features contrasting material and colouration between the black plastic chassis and a silvery metallic surround.

Reports indicate the plastic is ‘sturdy’ and ‘lightweight’, although the device does clock in at around 635g (the exact weight depends on whether you go for the Wi-Fi only model or the 4G variant), so it’s only about 45g lighter than the Surface.

You do, however, have the advantage that the detachable dock contains an additional battery for boosting the charge.

It also operates like a true laptop in that the hinge can support the weight of the screen without the need for a kickstand.

Lastly, it also has proper keys with decent travel and feedback for a better typing experience.

While the Surface is a beautiful device and wins out in the looks department, the XPS 10 is a much more practical implementation of the hybrid concept.

Winner – Dell XPS 10

Display

The Surface RT has a 10.6-inch LCD touch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio at 1366x768 pixels, which gives a pixel density of only 148 pixels-per-inch.

That might not sound too good, but actually the Surface’s screen comes off rather well, in part thanks to the ClearType HD technology. Of course, on close inspection there is more pixilation than you’ll find on a new iPad, but it’s still not bad.

Colour depth and contrast are great and the brightness is excellent, on a decent setting it’s easily usable outside.

Dell’s device does a bit better, with a 10.1-inch HD screen at the same resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 155ppi. However, there isn’t likely to be a noticeable difference between the two in actual use.

Winner - Draw

Storage

Each device is available in both 32GB and 64GB storage variants and each also has MicroSDXC capability for cards up to 64GB.

Winner - Draw

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