Work Mode, Play Mode: An Ultrabook™ Convertible Experience

If you’re looking for a device that integrates the computing power of an Ultrabook™ but offers the mobility of a tablet, then you’ll want to check out one of the new Ultrabook convertible devices.  One such device is the Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook™ Convertible, a solid machine that gives users the ability to quickly switch from the standard laptop to a sophisticated tablet in seconds with zero interference or interruptions. These Ultrabook convertible devices are powerful Windows*8 machines with user-friendly functionality.  App developers will enjoy the mobility of these PCs in tablet mode, as well as being able to instantly dive into powerful programs with just a flip of the screen.

Convertible Ultrabooks have received a lot of positive press because of their sleek build, sturdy craftsmanship, and responsive infrastructure. I went into this experience not knowing what to expect, but came out on the other side as a firm believer in the message of these devices; namely, quick boot time, fantastic response, and flexibility between usage modes.

Desktop Mode

Windows*8 on an Ultrabook machine is set to deliver a high quality experience for the user as soon as the device is opened up. The Start menu is intuitive, with live tiles updating instantly in real time – so if you don’t want to open up an app just to see what’s the latest news or weather, you don’t have to; it’s all on your screen, instantly available.

Settings are accessible with a quick swipe on the touch-enabled screen. Using the touchscreen as well as the keyboard and track pad gives the user many more ways to interact with content and controls, and whatever is comfortable and intuitive for the user will work. For example, in order to click on a link, the user can choose to double-click with the integrated track pad, or use their finger to double-tap on the screen, then pinch to zoom out, then back to the keyboard to input the data. It’s all about flexibility.

Tablet Mode

This is a convertible device, which means it has a snazzy flip feature that enables you to put the entire thing into tablet mode (or laptop mode) with very little fuss.  Switching between tablet mode and desktop mode on an Ultrabook convertible is easy. In standard desktop mode, simply place your hands on either side of the screen and gently push backwards. The screen flips and locks into place, facing outwards. The entire screen clamshell can then be placed gently on top of the keyboard for full tablet mode.

The most comfortable way to hold this device in tablet mode is in landscape orientation, but it will switch instantly to portrait with zero graphics interference.  Holding the tablet with one hand on either side works best, but cradling it on one arm with the other hand doing the typing does fine as well. Holding hands on either side with thumbs to do most functions works best for most apps. Swiping, double-tapping, zooming in and out with pinching,  these basic touch gestures are all quite easy to implement and the screen is very responsive.

For extended periods of computing with an Ultrabook convertible, you don’t need a stand because the device itself stands; just flip the screen to laptop mode and you have access to a full keyboard for doing serious work.  For casual use, you can flip it to tablet mode and use your thumbs on each side for browsing, social networking, etc. 

The popup keyboard in tablet mode on the Ultrabook convertibles are easy to use.  Typing with one or two hands is easily done. The touchscreen in tablet mode is also extremely easy to use; it was easy to swipe and connect with content.

Body, Screen, Performance, and Keyboard

The convertible’s finish is sleek, and the rubberized bottom makes it easily graspable in tablet mode.

The flipping mechanism  is quite sturdy.  It’s easy to flip back and forth from laptop to tablet; you just flip the screen and the whole thing locks into place, closing the lid all the way down to transform it into a tablet. It’s particularly useful for extended use; developers will find that Ultrabook convertibles are easy to tote as either a tablet or laptop device, since they switch seamlessly between modes for casual computing or more professional work.

Ultrabook convertibles also offer up some seriously gorgeous, jaw-dropping graphics display, and they stay beautiful no matter what mode you’re in.  I could see this machine becoming a creative arts powerhouse purely due to this feature (that and the fact that this device can handle more sophisticated editing programs in both tablet and desktop modes).  For example, a Mah Jongg game started in desktop mode and switched to tablet fills the entire screen display, making the game even more interactive. Photo editing with a simple Web-based program was just as easy in tablet mode as it was in desktop, using touch exclusively to edit photos. Watching videos in tablet mode is comparable to the experience of an HD media device.

Keyboards on an Ultrabook convertible are standard, and are there for whenever the user needs it, particularly for programs utilized in desktop mode that are not necessarily designed for touch, i.e., Excel. An Ultrabook convertible is especially useful in this regard, since the user can utilize the standard desktop mode for working, then take a break from desktop/keyboard and flip it to tablet mode for more casual content consumption utilizing touch. The keyboard can also be used in conjunction with touch while in desktop mode on the convertible.

Standard Ultrabook performance specs make this machine a pleasure to operate. It booted in seconds, launched every application quickly, and responded to multiple requests accurately and efficiently. Users will enjoy the sleek Windows*8 operating system that serves up a responsive experience expected from modern devices in the market today.


Good machine for developers

This device is powerful. All the functionality of a full-fledged desktop, with the mobility of a tablet. This machine would lend itself well to mobile use that requires something powerful yet flexible. If you need a machine that will easily dive into Visual Studio or slice something on Photoshop, yet flip into tablet mode for when you’re on the move, this is the one to get.

Developers should keep in mind multiple touch postures and touch usages when using this device to make it sync as easy as possible with whatever apps they come up with. App input controls, like swiping, should be intuitive with the operating system controls, otherwise data could be lost (for more on making touch-based apps, read Touch Design Principles). Touch is expected in today’s marketplace. Applications that are designed to use touch intuitively will be especially enjoyed in tablet mode on a device like this.

An Ultrabook convertible offers up different usage modes for PC apps. Smart developers will take advantage of those modes, building apps that leverage the desktop mode when it’s needed, as well as the tablet mode when it’s required. The keyboard is still the best experience for productivity-focused activities, including apps.  Developers should keep that in mind when developing apps for the convertible Ultrabook.


Ultrabook convertibles are powerful devices that give users the ability to quickly switch from the standard laptop to a sophisticated tablet in seconds with zero interference or interruptions. App developers will enjoy the power and mobility of the device, switching from desktop mode (work-related, more professional computing) to tablet mode (casual content consumption).


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