If you need a giant laptop, and you want it to double as a tablet display, Dell makes the Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1 ($899), which should be the answer to your supersize prayers. Unfortunately, its 17-inch display features an odd fuzziness that may get in your way, and its hard drive is so slow you'll want to tap on its spinning plates and ask it to speed up. Still, it gets enough right to make for a useful -- albeit heavy -- device that will satisfy those who want all the screen they can get.
The Inspiron 17's gray aluminum lid features a shiny bevelled edge and Dell Logo and a sparkling finish that shines when it catches the light. Its metallic keyboard deck features a brushed-metal finish, and another reflective metallic edge wraps around its touchpad.
Measuring 16.2 x 10.9 x 0.9 inches and weighing 6.4 pounds, the Dell Inspiron 17 7000 is massive, and something of a rarity, being the only 17-inch 2-in-1 we've seen in a very long time. Fifteen-inch hybrids, such as the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (14.2 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches, 4.5 pounds), the Lenovo Flex 5 1570 (14.3 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches, 4.7 pounds) and the Lenovo Yoga 720 (14.3 x 9.5 x 0.8 inches, 4.55 pounds), are much lighter and more portable.
The Inspiron's USB Type-C and USB 3ports sit on its left side, next to its headphone and HDMI ports. Its SD memory reader, USB 2.0 port and Noble security lock slot are found on the far end of its right side, while its power and volume buttons are near the other end.
The 17.3-inch touch screen in the Inspiron 17 offers acceptable color and brightness, but sticks users with a flaw that's very hard to ignore. From the second I started using the notebook, I was struck with the urge to clean its screen, to rid it of a chromatic fuzz texture that just wouldn't come off. After a high-end anti-static cloth wouldn't do the job, I realized this was the nature of the panel itself or its coating.
Although this pattern is most annoying on the white tones of the Windows Setting screen and Google Docs, it also distorts other hues, which I noticed while browsing the Windows Store and seeing the erroneous sparkling in the green, purple and blues of a Hulu app ad. Neither the Yoga 720 nor the Inspiron 15 nor the Flex 5 offer this odd pattern.
If you can look past its visual static, you'll see the Inspiron 17 7000 produces 114 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That's much better than the 77.4 percent rating from the Inspiron 15 and on par with the 114 percent from the Yoga 720. But it's beneath the 133-percent Lenovo Flex 5 and the 129-percent category average.
The Inspiron 17 7000 emits up to 240 nits of brightness, which isn't that strong, and leads to colors darkening (and that fuzziness looking worse) when the display is viewed at 45 degrees to the left or right. That rating is below the 286-nit category average and the numbers from the 270-nit Flex 5 and the 272-nit Yoga 720. The 148-nit Inspiron 15 is even dimmer.
The touch-screen panel in the Inspiron 17 accurately accepted my taps as I navigated the desktop and scrolled through TweetDeck. It also speedily registered Windows 10's edge-swipes and navigational gestures.
The Inspiron 17's keys make for an adequate typing experience. Testing the keyboard out on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit 69 words per minute, a small fall from my 80-wpm average. I found my fingers hitting the deck too, too fast, as the keys have only 1.2 millimeters of travel, where we prefer at least 1.5mm. The keys aren't a total loss, as they require 63 grams of force for actuation, which is above the 60g minimum we look for. I'm also used to typing on slightly larger keycaps (these measure 14.6 x 14.7 millimeters, as opposed to the 16 x 16mm caps I'm used to) separated by smaller gaps.
The 4.1 x 3.1-inch clickable touchpad offers accurate tracking, but its clicks feel slightly stiff. It also correctly registered Windows 10's swipe gestures.
The Inspiron 17 7000 did an acceptable job of filling our large conference room with sound. Listening to St. Vincent's "Los Ageless," I noted that her vocals and synths came out clearly and accurately, and that the track's strong, thumping bass hit to my satisfaction.
Dell includes a highly adjustable Waves MaxxAudioPro sound adjustment utility, but I found its settings best at the default arrangement. If you've gone too far when tweaking its preferences, you can restore them by clicking the refresh arrow in the bottom-right corner.
The 8th-Gen Core i5-8250U CPU and 12GB of RAM in the Inspiron 17 enable a ton of multitasking. I saw no lag when splitting my screen between a dozen Chrome tabs (including Slack, TweetDeck and Google Docs) and streaming 1080p YouTube videos, all while the Cuphead game downloaded from the Windows Store and the system prepared a sizable update in the background.
On the Geekbench 4 general performance benchmark, the Inspiron 17 notched a score of 11,909, which is close to the 12,076 from the Inspiron 15 (Core i5-8250U CPU; 8GB of RAM) and the 11,951 from the Yoga 720 (Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM). It was, however, a notch below the 12,833 category average (though that's filled by many super-powered gaming machines). We saw lower scores of 7,177 from the Flex 5 (Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM).
The 1TB 5400-rpm moving-parts hard drive in the Inspiron 17 showed its age, taking 3 minutes and 23 seconds to copy a DVD's worth of multimedia files, for a speed of 25 MBps. That's one of the slowest I've seen in a while, and well behind the 459.55 MBps category average. It also lagged behind the 299 MBps from the Inspiron 15 (256GB PCIe SSD), the 339 MBps from the Flex 5 (512GB NVMe SSD) and the 267.86 rate from the Yoga 720 (256GB SSD).
The Inspiron 17 isn't too shabby for productivity. It took 3 minutes and 44 seconds to finish our OpenOffice macro test, which matches 20,000 names to addresses in the productivity software. That's similar to the 3:43 from the Inspiron 15 and the 3:42 from the Yoga 720. The category average is a shorter 3:24, whereas the Flex 5 posted a longer 4:40.
Gamers, start your modest anticipations! The 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU in the Inspiron 17 ran the side-scroller Cuphead at a playable speed, and did even better on the Dirt 3 racer, which blazed at 114 frames per second (fps). That Dirt 3 score is close to the 110 fps from the Yoga 720, and beats the 73 fps category average, the 55fps rate from the Inspiron 15 (Intel UHD 620 GPU) and the 70fps rate from the Flex 5 (Nvidia GeForce 940MX).
Over on the Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, the Inspiron 17 also performed well, racking up a score of 128,253. That narrowly edges out the 127,996 category average, but handily bests the 67,767 from the Inspiron 15, the 100,242 from the Flex 5 and the 119,006 from the Yoga 720.
For a huge laptop, the Inspiron 17 lasts pretty long, posting a time of 6 hours and 40 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 100 nits of brightness). That beats the times from the Inspiron 15 (6:14), the Flex 5 (5:50) and the 4:35 category average. The Yoga 720 (8:59) offers even better endurance.
While I'm recognizable in the selfie I shot with the 0.9-megapixel webcam in the Inspiron 17, that's the only good thing I can say about its photos. The wall behind me has a ton of digital noise in it, and every color in the image -- from my sweatshirt to the wall -- is washed out. We'd ding the Inspiron 17 for this, but we find similar flaws in every integrated webcam.
If you want to get a better webcam -- either for clearer streaming or better skype calls -- check out our picks for the best external webcams.
The Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1 is a mighty large beast, but it doesn't get too hot. After we streamed 15 minutes of video on the notebook, we found temperatures on its touchpad (85 degrees Fahrenheit), keyboard (94 degrees) and underside (92 degrees) that didn't breach our 95-degree threshold.
Opening the Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1's Start Menu, you'll find a pretty normal set of pre-installed tools on the Inspiron 17, including Dell's proprietary standards. Those include Dropbox (with 20GB of free storage for a year), Netflix and SketchBook, as well as games such as Minecraft, Bubble Witch 3 and March of Empires. The only item I'd encourage you to delete is the Keeper password manager, as our sister site Tom's Guide rated it below LastPass, its top pick.
The included apps from Dell include Power Manager Lite (for power management options to give your battery a greater life in the long term) and SupportAssist (for access to tech support and system details).
We tested the entry-level Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1, which features an 8th-Generation Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 12GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive.
Although you can double the storage and add 4GB of RAM for $200 (for the $1,099 model), I'd recommend you instead go for the $1,249 model, which switches out the slow 1TB hard drive for a speedier 512GB SSD.
The Inspiron 17 7000 features the brawn of an 8th-Gen Intel CPU and tons of battery life, so you can get a lot done, and not worry about beating the clock. If only its hard drive were faster and its screen's weird fuzziness didn't distract.
The Yoga 720 is a fantastic alternative. It offers a brighter screen that isn't plagued by a weird pattern and more than 2hours of extra battery life, though it costs $300 more and has a 15-inch display. But if you need a 17-inch convertible, the Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1 will fill that giant chasm in your life.