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It's a desktop! It's a tablet! Dell XPS 18 vs. Sony Vaio Tap 20

Brian Nadel | May 31, 2013
We look at the Dell XPS 18 and the Sony Vaio Tap 20: Two all-in-ones that transform into large-scale tablets. Is this an alteration you can work with?

On the other hand, the XPS 18 lacks the Tap 20's Near Field Communications (NFC) capability that can ease the setting up of wireless accessories.

Performance testing
Despite its thin profile, the XPS 18 I tested is a powerful computer; it scored a 1,623.6 on PassMark's PerformanceTest 8.0. On the other hand, its Cinebench results were a mixed bag with the XPS 18 scoring 15.37 frames per second on the OpenGL graphics and 2.44 on the processor portion of the benchmark.

At a Glance
XPS 18

DellPrice: $900 (1.8GHz Intel Pentium processor, 4GB RAM, 320GB HD), $1,000 (1.9GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD), $1,350 (1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 500GB HD/32GB SSD), $1,450 (Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 500GB HD/32GB SSD).Pros: Slim and light, long battery life, good performance, tiltable standCons: Non-removable battery, no Ethernet connection

In tests, the XPS 18's 4,200mAh battery lasted for 4 hours and 16 minutes on a charge while running constant videos, more than twice as long as the Tap 20's battery. On the downside, like so many tablets on the market, the system's battery can't be removed.

The system comes with a one-year warranty that can be extended to three years for $200, FingerTapps Instruments software that lets you play up to four different "instruments" at one time and a 30-day subscription to McAfee's SecurityCenter.

Bottom line
Dell's higher-end XPS 18 models might seem a bit expensive, but it's a small price to pay for an innovative and well-designed system that can assume several different computing profiles.

Sony Vaio Tap 20 Mobile Desktop
At first glance, you could be excused for thinking that the Vaio Tap 20 is just like any other desk-bound AIO rather than a desktop computer that can travel.

Much more conventional-looking and larger than the XPS 18, the Tap 20 measures 19.9 x 12.3 x 1.8 in. and weighs 11.5 lb. It comes in white or black; Sony sells a $60 carrying case.

Sony Tap 20

The Tap 20's 20-in. screen is 1.6 in. larger and yields 15% more viewable area than the XPS 18's display. It has a maximum resolution of 1600 x 900, short of the full HD resolution that the XPS 18 delivers.

Like the XPS 18, the Tap 20's screen is responsive and can interpret up to 10 independent finger inputs as well as gestures. The screen worked well with a Wacom Bamboo Solo stylus.

The Tap 20 comes equipped with a matte-silver U-shaped arm on the back that props the system up. You can adjust the angle of the screen from 70 degrees to full horizontal orientation on a tabletop. Overall, it was much more stable than the XPS 18's stand when I was moving my fingers over the screen or tapping it.


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