Dell's new XPS 12 is now on sale at the company's online store. This year's model ditches the weird screen-flipping direction of 2013 for a more conventional laptop/tablet hybrid design; there's a keyboard base that uses magnets to secure the 12.5-inch tablet into a laptop position. In our preview last month, we noted that this design restricts you to one viewing angle, like the original Microsoft Surface tablets.
Like Apple's 12-inch MacBook, the XPS 12 uses an Intel Core M processor and relies on the new USB-C connector standard. The Core M chips are newer and faster, though, and it has two USB-C ports, not one — useful if you want to charge your laptop and plug in an accessory at the same time. Dell is also throwing in a USB-A adapter and folio case as part of the package.
The base XPS 12 model starts at $999.99 with a 12.5-inch 1080p display and a 128GB flash drive, while the higher-end $1,299.99 model has a 4K screen and 256GB of storage. Both come with Windows 10 pre-installed, of course, and are expected to ship within 13 to 17 business days.
Also available to order today from Dell is the Alienware Steam Machine, a device long in the making and perhaps the most prominent option in Valve's console-style Steam OS initiative. The Alienware Steam Machine is more or less the same thing as the Windows-based Alienware Alpha — it's a tiny PC that can deliver graphics in the same ballpark as a console like the PlayStation 4. This version runs Steam OS, however, which will be a compromise for many; Steam OS is based on Linux, and only around 1,500 of Steam's 6,500-strong library of titles will run natively on the platform.
At $449.99 for the base model, the Steam Machine is $50 cheaper than the Alpha, and also comes with a bundled Steam Controller. But Steam Machines are hard to recommend over Windows PCs at this point, especially in Alienware's case where a near-identical Windows model already exists. For most people, the Alpha's extra $50 will be money well spent for a vastly more capable operating system with a more extensive gaming library. If you're willing to bet wholesale on Valve's vision for the future of consoles, however, the Alienware Steam Machine will ship to you within 7-9 business days.