There are a lot of hybrid tablets coming out this fall. But while the ones we've seen seem to be splitting the difference, Dell seems to be focusing on the best parts of either laptop or tablet. Its XPS 10 is the tablet end of that bargain.
The XPS 10 is a 10-inch ARM-based tablet that comes with a keyboard dock. That's a decidedly different pill than, say, Samsung's Ativ Series 5 and Series 7 slates, which feature their keyboards much more prominently. That is to say, the XPS 10 is designed to work as just a tablet.
That seems like a small distinction, but it's an important one. While Samsung's machines are mainly built as laptops (they run the "full" x86 version of Windows 8), the XPS 10 is an ARM-powered device that runs WindowsRT, so it's thinner, lighter, and more like a tablet you'd buy for actually using a tablet. Think "Transformer Prime" more than "laptop stuffed into a slate."
But more than an Asus Transformer, the tablet and dock come together to form a laptop that feels like it actually goes together, rather than just slapping any old keyboard on a tablet. The XPS design is obvious in both halves, which makes a big difference. The keyboard on the dock, which also doubles battery life, is a little undersized, but going through speed tests on it, it wasn't small enough to lose very much comfort or any accuracy, so it doesn't seem like a huge deal. The mechanism to pop it on and off is simple, and it seems like it should hold up to just grabbing one end or the other.
The XPS 10 shares the same design as the XPS Duo 12, and the previous XPS ultrabooks. It should also share the massively improved trackpad performance of the Duo 12. But most importantly, it shares the concept: Hybrids are great, but only if you really accentuate the things that make one of the two components good. With the XPS 10, that's the lightness, portability, and build quality of tablets. We have to use it more in a full review to see how well that holds up, but for now, it seems like a pretty great idea.