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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?

It all adds up to a reasonable, though not stellar, performer. On the PerformanceTest 8.0 benchmark, the Tap 20 scored a 1,373.3. Its score of 2.51 and 13.06 frames per second on the Cinebench processor and graphics tests were in line with its processor.

With its 5,000mAh battery, the system ran for 1 hour and 56 minutes (while running constant videos), less than half the run time for the XPS 18. On the other hand, the Tap 20's design uses the same battery as some of Sony's notebooks and you can quickly remove and swap it if needed; a replacement costs $200.

Sony includes Art Rage Studio Pro (an artistic painting/drawing application) along with 64-bit Windows 8 and a 30-day subscription to Kaspersky's Internet Security program. The system comes with a one-year warranty, which can be extended to three years of coverage for $150.

Bottom line
Although it's heavier and more awkward than the XPS 18, the Tap 20 does offer excellent sound, a removable battery and a wider selection of ports.

Of all the computers I've looked at over the last 25 years, these two were the hardest to pick between because they are so similar -- and, at the same time, so different.

I really like the Tap 20's handle-stand and the inclusion of ArtRage software. Its NFC module has the potential to make connecting to wireless devices simpler, but it lacks true HD resolution and its battery petered out after about two hours of use. That should be plenty for most tasks but the last thing you want to do when the aliens are attacking is to look for the power cord and an AC outlet.

The test version of the XPS 18 is the more powerful and innovative system of the two and sets the pace for industrial design for computers. The XPS 18's tiltable base is an engineering gem that makes the system much more useful as a desktop PC. It can go for more than four hours on a charge and its HD screen is perfect for anything from viewing digital images to watching movies.

Its design is certain to be copied, and maybe improved upon. But for now, the XPS 18 is an unusual computer that could suit a lot of needs.


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