Premium 2-in-1s have proven to be some of the most expensive ultraportable laptops on the market. That's not the case with the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1, which starts at $750. The convertible laptop has an aluminum chassis, a 1080p display, an SSD, a USB Type-C port, solid performance and an infrared camera that lets you log in to Windows with your face. Unfortunately, Dell also cut some corners, giving this machine a mediocre display, shallow keyboard and below-average battery life. Despite those few shortcomings, however, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 offers a lot of bang for your buck.
The Inspiron 13 plays it safe, with a rounded, rectangular chassis that comes exclusively in silver, but the machine's brushed-aluminum deck and lid give this 2-in-1 an air of class. The lid is solely adorned with Dell's logo in black, while opening the laptop reveals the 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen; an island-style keyboard; and a touchpad.
At 3.5 pounds and 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.74-0.76 inches, the Inspiron 13 is heftier than competing 2-in-1s with higher price tags. The Lenovo Yoga 900 is 2.8 pounds (12.8 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches) and the HP Spectre x360 13t is even lighter, at 2.4 pounds (12.8 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches). Dell's flagship clamshell notebook, the Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.7 pounds and is far smaller (12 x 7.9 x 0.3-0.6 inches).
The 360-degree hinges on the Inspiron 13 allow it to be used in four distinct modes: laptop, tablet (by folding the lid all the way back), stand (by placing the keyboard face down with the monitor pointing straight up) and tent (an upside down "V").
I appreciated the variety of ports on the Inspiron 13, which are compatible with legacy devices and some of the newest standards. The left side is home to the power jack, USB Type-C with DisplayPort and charging support, HDMI out, USB 3.0 port, and a headphone jack. On the right side, you'll find a Noble Lock slot, USB 2.0 port and SD card slot.
The 13.3-inch, 1080p display on the Inspiron 13 produces sharp and crisp details, but its colors are anemic and the screen is dark. When I watched the trailer for Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, I could easily spot shards of glass flying through the air when actor Tom Cruise broke a window with his bare fist. But an overhead shot of the National Mall showed grass and trees with dull, boring greens. Flashing red and blue police lights appeared lifeless, shrugging off any sense of urgency.
The panel reproduces only 63.1 percent of the sRGB color gamut, far less than the ultraportable category average of 90 percent. The Spectre x360 offers a stunning 111 percent of the gamut, the Yoga 900 displays 93 percent and the XPS 13 shows off 92 percent.
With a brightness of just 244 nits, the Inspiron 13's screen is one of the dimmest we've seen on a 2-in-1. The average ultraportable is more luminous, at 306 nits, and the Spectre x360 (308 nits) and XPS 13 (318 nits) outperformed that number. The Yoga 900 (284 nits) was below average, but still brighter than the Inspiron.
The Inspiron 13 has a Delta-E color accuracy score of 0.45 (zero is ideal), which is better than the average (3.59). The XPS 13 (8.2) was far less accurate, but the Spectre x360 (1) and Yoga 900 (2.8) were both better than average.
The Inspiron 13 7000's keyboard offers shallow keys with 1.28 millimeters of travel, which is less than our preference of 1.5-2mm of travel. The keys feel stiff, and there's a little bit of flex when you press down hard. That didn't stop me from reaching 110 words per minute, the high end of my average range, on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. My error rate, however, was slightly higher than usual, at 3 percent rather than 2 percent.
The keyboard is set too far back on the deck (which was also an issue on the 15- and 17-inch versions of the Inspiron 7000 series 2-in-1s), and I had to place more of my forearm on the palm rests than usual.
The trade-off here is the generous, 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad with the slightest grainy texture for some tactile feedback while you navigate Windows 10. I found the surface to be responsive to gestures, but I had to press down hard to click.
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The speakers on the back and rear of the Inspiron 13 7000 produced little bass and could have used more volume. I listened to Yellowcard's "Lights and Sounds" and could clearly hear the mix of vocals, strings and guitars, but the bass was hard to make out. It just barely filled our midsize conference room; many competitors get louder.
The sound was clear throughout laptop, tablet and stand mode. In tent mode, the music distorted slightly, possibly due to the tunnel created by the V shape.
The Inspiron 13's 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD give it plenty of power for multitasking. I had OpenOffice running in the background and 12 Google Chrome tabs open (one of which was streaming 1080p video) before I noticed any lag.
The sound was clear throughout laptop in both tablet and stand mode.
Dell's 2-in-1 earned a score of 6,458 on the Geekbench 3 overall synthetic benchmark test. The ultraportable average is just 5,193, and only the Spectre x360 (Core i7-6500U, scoring 6,829) beat the Inspiron. The Yoga 900 (Core i7-6500U, scoring 6,264) and XPS 13 (Core i5-6200U, scoring 6,391) fell slightly behind.
The Inspiron 13 transferred 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 33 seconds, a rate of 154.2 megabytes per second. That's faster than the ultraportable notebook average of 144.6 MBps, but slower than the rest of the competition's SSDs. The Dell XPS 13' was blazing fast, at 231.3MBps; the Spectre x360 hit 173.5 MBps, and the Yoga 900 reached 181.8MBps.
It took 4 minutes and 54 seconds for the Inspiron 13 to match 20,000 names and addresses in our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro test. While that's far faster than the 7:03 category average, it's still slower than the Inspiron 13's rivals. The Spectre x360 (4:02), Yoga 900 (4:18) and XPS 13 (4:34) were all speedier.
Don't expect to play any intensive games like Battleborn or Tom Clancy's The Division on the Inspiron 13 and its integrated Intel HD Graphics 520. This machine is more suited for a few games of Cut the Rope or Words with Friends. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, the Inspiron notched a score of 61,252. That's higher than the category average (47,040) and the XPS 13's scoore (49,394). The Spectre x360 achieved a score of 62,054, while the Yoga 900 earned a score of 60,259 (both systems use integrated Intel HD Graphics 520).
The Inspiron 13 may be flexible, but it doesn't have the endurance to match. The 2-in-1 lasted 7 hours and 6 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuously browsing the web over Wi-Fi. The ultraportable category average is 7:49, and the Yoga 900 (7:57), HP Spectre x360 (8:26) and XPS 13 (a whopping 11:54) all lasted longer.
The 720p webcam is slightly off-color but is fine for casual Google Hangouts. In a picture I took in our labs, both my cream-colored shirt and our lab assistant's gray top appear lighter than they did in person. The camera caught some fine details, like my dimple, but my beard appeared blurry.
The camera is compatible with Windows Hello, which means you can sign in with your face. After registering my face in the settings app, I logged in using the camera both in broad daylight and a pitch-black, windowless room, with nothing but the light of the display.
When using the Inspiron 13 as a tent, stand, laptop or tablet, you won't have to worry about excessive heat. After streaming 15 minutes of HD video from Hulu, the bottom of the 2-in-1 reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit, which is below our comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard hit 89 degrees, and the touchpad was a comfortable 82 degrees.
The Inspiron 13 is fairly light on preinstalled software. There's some bloat, including Flipboard, Twitter and the constant annoyance known as Candy Crush Soda Saga. Dell's own apps are few, including a power manager, software for tech-support assistance and warranty information, and a program for upgrading your BIOS. Dell Shop is an attempt by the company to sell you more stuff; it's a giant catalog of software, tech and games. A 30-day trial of Microsoft Office is bundled with the laptop, as is 20GB of free Dropbox space for one year.
We reviewed the $750 base model of the Inspiron 13, which came with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.
The $900 model adds a Core i7-6500U CPU to the configuration, while the $1,000 iteration includes a Core i7-6500U, 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
The Inspiron 13 7000, if nothing else, brings value and choice to the marketplace. At $750, the hybrid is the best deal for a 13-inch 2-in-1 on the market, offering an SSD, a 1080p display, an infrared camera and USB Type-C. However, the display is dim and its colors are bland, the battery won't last all day, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is slightly heavier than the competition, and the keyboard is a bit shallow.
If you're looking to overcome some of the Inspiron's weaknesses, it's going to cost you considerably more money. Our favorite 2-in-1, the Lenovo Yoga 900, starts at $1,200. It's lighter and has more ports, a better display and longer battery life. However, if you're willing to live with a few compromises, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 provides a lot of value for the money.
USB Type-C; Solid performance; Webcam compatible with Windows Hello
Bland screen; Shallow keys; Below-average battery life
The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 offers a 1080p display, an SSD and strong performance for under $750, but makes some compromises to achieve that price.
|CPU||2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U CPU|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB SSD|