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Dell XPS 11 Intel Core i5 4GB 128GB SSD 11.6
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

2 out of 5 eggs Elegant on the outside, unstable on the inside 07/17/2014

This review is from: Dell XPS 11 Intel Core i5 4GB 128GB SSD 11.6" QHD Touchscreen 2in1 Ultrabook- Windows 8.1 (XPS11-9091CFB)

Pros: On the surface (pardon the pun) this ultrabook/tablet combo unit appears to be elegantly designed. Sleek lines and smooth carbon fiber panels. The screen is hideously-high-resolution for an 11" display. Windows "apps" like Kindle and Facebook appear bright and clear. Desktop mode apps are expansive, though sometimes blurry when the synthetic scaling is enabled as it is in Windows 8.1 (it can be disabled on an app-by-app basis for those like me who prefer their text small and sharp).

The touch screen is relatively smooth and responsive, the 75% of the time it works. It has four positions: Laptop (conventional), Tent (used like a tablet, in an upside-down "V" formation), Stand (used like a tablet, resting on the keyboard), and Tablet, with the screen folded 360-degrees open against the back face of the keyboard. Versatile positioning, and dramatically more comfortable to use when compared to my Surface Pro.

Cons: Keyboard is nothing short of abysmal. I have had 10 desktops, 6 laptops, and probably 8-10 different tablets in my life. I have never yet had a keyboard that could even get near as bad as this unit possesses. It is a rubbery, zero-travel "touch board" that despite all sensitivity settings, loses about 10% of the keystrokes, unless of course you hit the keys hard enough that your hands ache after ten minutes of typing. While this is an "XPS" series (consumer/media division) unit and not really intended for business, I'd struggle to find any kid that could successfully write a three-page homework report on it either.

Zero support for active stylus. I love that on my $800 Surface Pro, I can use the pen to take hand-written notes in OneNote, and I have many pages of notes, sketches, drawings, flow-charts, etc. that sync right up to my desktop for further analysis or compilation. No stylus support here. You get to type.

System is extremely unstable. It fails to "wake up" from sleep mode roughly 50% of the time, and either black-screens, or displays only a portion of the background bitmap. From day-one, I've had to hard power-off and on the unit no less than three times per day.

On at least ten occasions, the screen has lost "touch" capabilities upon resuming from sleep or powering on. While the keyboard and touchpad still worked, the screen itself was unresponsive to touch unless hard-powered off and on.

Zero support from Dell. Microsoft Surface Pro, which started out pretty quirky but constantly had firmware updates rolled out to it and over three months of updates became extremely stable, this unit has had ZERO updates from Dell since its 2013 release. No BIOS updates. No driver updates. Zero. It's as if Dell handed this to the world and said "here you go...this is all you get."

I finally had to add an external Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard and Wedge Mouse to it, and the system has become usable....for at least 10 minutes at a time until the Bluetooth radio loses communications and has to be disabled and re-enabled. So it can't even hold on to a keyboard for ten minutes.

Other Thoughts: Despite its MASSIVE shortcomings, I surprisingly still like the unit. A glutton for punishment, I guess, I just put up with the three-times-per-day reboots and occasional touch screen going dead. I'm an IT guy, and spend a LOT of my time remotely accessing client systems, so I need the very high resolution screen (otherwise there are a LOT of cheaper units I would be using). That said, the first company that can produce a unit with a high-res screen that's remotely stable, I'll probably be jumping ship on this one.

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Crucial M550 CT256M550SSD3 mSATA 256GB SATA 6Gb/s MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: Originally bought this as a replacement for an existing mSATA drive that was thought to be failing in a client notebook. It turns out it wasn't, leaving me with the choice of either returning it or using it myself. I chose the latter. We installed this in a Dell Precision Workstation T1700 desktop PC, using an Addonics 4-port RAID mSATA to PCIe x4 adapter. It's set up as our primary boot drive running Windows 8.1.

Boot times are like nothing I've ever seen. We see only a flash of the Windows logo (maybe 1 second), and then the desktop appears faster than our monitor can switch modes to show it. Programs load near-instantly--at least as fast as if they were already cached in RAM. With two less (RAID) hard drives spinning, the machine is now whisper silent.

I'm floored at how fast this PC is now, simply making the one single change to move the OS to this mSATA drive.

Cons: As with any SSD product, you will pay a higher price-per-Gig when comparing them to conventional hard drives. This is only really a "con" when comparing to cheap mechanical drives.

Other Thoughts: Moving to SSD, and particularly a PCIe-mounted mSATA such as the Crucial M550 may be the best "bank for the buck" performance dollar you can spend.

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StarTech USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet NIC Network Adapter - Add Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity to a Laptop or Desktop through a USB port - usb 3.0 to gigabit ethernet - usb 3.0 gigabit adapter - usb 3.0 to ethernet - usb 3.0 adapter
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: Plug and play, literally
Very fast

Cons: None that I've seen

Other Thoughts: Back about 6 months ago I bought a Surface Pro (Microsoft's Windows 8 Pro Tablet) which sadly doesn't have internal Ethernet. As an IT guy, I spend a lot of time supporting other people's networks and needed a way of quickly connecting for tasks like testing, router configuration and troubleshooting.

I bought this adapter the same week as my Surface, and I have been extremely pleased with it. It worked "plug and play" right out of the box, which caught me off guard as I had the typical expectation that I would need to spend some time driver hunting (I never use the 3-year-old disk that comes with any new component).

I plugged it in, Windows installed the driver (which was clearly included in the OS) and I'm getting 80-90MBytes/sec consistently on large file transfers. It "just works". It's small and convenient to carry around in a small accessory pouch along with power adapters, short network cables and the like.

I have not yet tried this on a Mac(book Pro) so I can't speak to Mac compatibility, but I will post an updated review once I've tried it.

For me, this has been a great adapter and one I'd recommend to anyone.

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Dan N.'s Profile

Display Name: Dan N.

Date Joined: 11/02/02

  • Reviews: 9
  • Helpfulness: 5
  • First Review: 05/08/11
  • Last Review: 07/17/14
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