Confessions of a Dell Experimentalist (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of this story, I talked about how I got a sweet Dell XPS all-in-one to make cool stuff on. A few tech specs for this particular model in case you're interested:

  • 27” QHD screen
  • 4th Gen Intel Core i5-4460S processor
  • Touchscreen with adjustable viewing angle
  • Single-cord setup (just the power cord)
  • Bluetooth keyboard and mouse
  • The capability to be used as an external monitor, so I can even hook my Mac up to it and quickly swap between a second OS X desktop and Windows 8. Handy!
  • 7 cupholders

Oh hang on, scratch that last one. It only has six cupholders.

Fine, none. But it doesn’t need ‘em. It’s a pretty cool machine that the friendly folks at Intel constructed to be used for creative purposes like design, 3D imagery, and audio/video editing. The touchscreen makes the experience completely different from your standard computer interface, and I think this aspect can empower artists to feel like they’re more hands-on in their creating (literally). I should note that while you can, in fact, use a stylus on this screen, it’s not made specifically for drawing and won’t replace your pen tablet. But there are a lot of other potential applications for visual artists like pinch-zooming, rotating, etc.

I used it to make some music, and to write this very blog post.

I decided to tackle a song I’d started writing a while back called “Twist The Knife.” I haven’t finished the lyrics, so I’ve made an instrumental version with some guitar lead melodies in place of the future vocals (which made me channel my inner-Joe Satriani, which is always fun). I even used some StageLight sounds in this one (see previous post for more on that). Look for a finished version of "Twist The Knife" to be on an upcoming album of mine. You can hear it in a second, but first I had a few thoughts specifically on making music with the Dell:

  • The touchscreen is really quite handy. You can actually play software instruments using the screen. You can easily get to various commands and buttons in your DAW without using a mouse or remembering keyboard shortcuts. You can zoom and scroll with ease. You can actually move faders with your fingers, just like on a real mixing board. Speaking of which...
  • The adjustable viewing angle is cool for mixing. You can lower and flatten out (though not completely) the screen to interact with your mixing board in a more natural way than you could on a screen perpendicular to the floor.
  • It almost feels like you could use this as a really high-tech coffee table, though if you put a drink on it I’d kick you out of my house. Also, it would fall off. This has nothing to do with music, so I probably shouldn't have put it here.
playing the snare drum onscreen.

playing the snare drum onscreen.

This looks like a pretty good angle for a mixing board!

This looks like a pretty good angle for a mixing board!

Anyway, here’s a preliminary mix of the song. Take a listen and enjoy. And if you’re a creative person trying to figure out what computer to get next, the Dell XPS should be added to your “to check out” list. You may be surprised at how much fun it is. 

There are many, many places to plug in peripherals. More are on the side as well.

There are many, many places to plug in peripherals. More are on the side as well.

#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.

Learn more about Intel All-in-Ones