I decided it was time to shed the weight of a 17-inch laptop and also enter the brave new world of 2-in-1 folding laptops. Enter the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which I have used on two trips so far.
The machine’s biggest weakness is an inability to stay connected to a Microsoft Bluetooth travel mouse. The mouse worked fine with the five-year-old 17-inch machine. I tried a second example of the same mouse and suffered from the same disconnections after a few seconds (snapping the mouse closed and open would restore connectivity).
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 also has a finicky WiFi system. It would disconnect from a friend’s home router after about every 30 minutes of use, requiring a manual “disconnect” and then “reconnect.” After a driver update the problem seemed to be gone but then I closed the machine and opened it up the next morning. There was no WiFi connection and the machine couldn’t see any of the 12 or so networks in the apartment complex where I was staying.
I thought “well, maybe it isn’t so bad if I have no mouse because I have a touchscreen.” A couple of days later, the touchscreen failed completely. Dell support suggested unplugging the machine and using the power switch to drain power off the motherboard. That restored the touchscreen, but I still miss having a mouse. Why not plug in a wired mouse, 1970s-style? Dell decided that there shouldn’t be any standard USB ports on the machine so it would have to be done via a dongle. There is no reputable brand of wired USB-C mouse because anyone up-to-date enough to have USB-C would of course have a computer with functional Bluetooth. Eventually I decided to try a Logitech m557 Bluetooth mouse and haven’t seen any disconnections so far, but there is about a one-second delay before the mouse begins to track after every period where the mouse isn’t moved. The touchpad doesn’t have any lag. A Logitech wireless mouse with proprietary dongle (plugged into the USB-C port with an intermediate dongle, of course) doesn’t have any lag. So there is definitely something screwy with the Bluetooth implementation.
I’m not a big TV-watcher and haven’t found a real use for the tent mode. Nor have I really used the machine as a tablet because if I want to read a Kindle book I just use the iPhone 7 Plus. Still, I like the mechanical design much better than the Microsoft Surface Book.
[June 2017: Multiple failures, many hours of phone support, Dell refuses to accept a return of this non-functional device, two trips to the “depot” (complete failure within a few minutes of being turned on after the first trip).]