Premium 2-in-1 laptops often cost a grand or more, but Dell has taken its Inspiron 13 7000 series to the next level with 8th-Generation Intel processors while keeping it affordable. Starting at $849, the Inspiron 13 is an attractive convertible that has strong performance, a bright display and excellent audio. The battery life is much shorter than we'd like and the keyboard is stiff, but you do get a flexible device with a variety of ports and a premium aluminum chassis.
Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 is a simple but stylish 2-in-1. Made with brushed aluminum, the Dell Inspiron 13 almost looks like a seamless slab of gunmetal gray. Only a silver Dell logo on the lid gives away the machine's identity. Lifting the laptop's lid reveals an island-style keyboard with black keys, a matching gunmetal trackpad and a 1080p touch screen. The top and side bezels are slim, but a chunky bottom bezel sets the modern design back.
Since the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a convertible, the lid can be flipped back 360 degrees so you can use the device in tablet mode. I put the Inspiron's hinges to the test and found it to be very flexible. I didn't experience any snagging when I switched between tent and stand modes. I also found the rubber grips on the base to be effective when I used the Inspiron in laptop mode, which provided adequate resistance against sliding.
The Inspiron 13 7000 measures 12.19 x 8.5 x 0.61 inches and 3.4 pounds, making it thicker and heavier than many 2-in-1 systems on the market. The Lenovo Yoga 720 (0.6 inches, 2.8 pounds) and Asus Transformer Pro (0.3 inches, 1.8 pounds) are slimmer and lighter competitors that are also priced at $929.
The Inspiron has all the ports you'll need for work and play. The laptop's left side is packed with a proprietary charging port, a USB Type-C connector that can charge the laptop, an HDMI output, a USB 3.0 port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The right side is much simpler, featuring only an SD card reader, a USB 3.1 port and a Noble Wedge lock slot.
Display: Bright, but not colorful
The Inspiron 13 7000 comes with a sharp, 13.3-inch, 1080p display. According to our colorimeter, the Inspiron reproduced 110 percent of the sRGB color gamut, a solid score that's above the category average (100 percent), but is well below the showings of the Lenovo Yoga 720 (127 percent) and the Asus Transformer Pro (134 percent).
The actual viewing experience wasn't quite as good as the numbers suggest. When I watched Big Bang's "Let's Not Fall In Love" music video, colors as a whole weren't as vibrant as I've seen them on other screens. In particular, GD''s skin had a gray tinge, and his pastel orange hair appeared more blond in low light scenes. When viewing a trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, my co-workers and I noticed that many colors were strong but some reds and greens such as Thor's cape and the Hulk's skin were dull. However, I wouldn't say this is a deal-breaker for a sub-$1,000 convertible. Details were at least crisp.
The Inspiron's screen has strong brightness, registering 287 nits, according to our light meter. That result exceeds showings we observed from the Lenovo Yoga 720 (280 nits) and the Asus Transformer Pro (234 nits). The Inspiron didn't surpass the ultraportable category average (290 nits), but it's not far off, either.
The IPS panel handled glare well when I used the Inspiron in direct sunlight. This 2-in-1 also has wide viewing angles; image quality didn't suffer when I flipped the panel down to 45 degrees and back 180 degrees, which is important for a convertible.
The Inspiron 13 7000 has a great sound system. Bottom-facing dual stereo speakers reproduce accurate sound, and were loud enough to fill our large conference room without distortion. When I listened to "Just One Day" by BTS, I could hear the bass, strings and synth without issue. The chorus also came through clearly, while the rap line's verses sounded punchy.
If you're not satisfied with your playback, you can tailor your listening experience with the pre-installed Waves MaxxAudioPro app. Depending on your tastes, you can modify individual settings like bass, noise reduction and pitch.
The Inspiron's dual microphones are conveniently built into the top bezel, so video calls are a breeze. I recorded a few voice notes to test how well the mics picked up audio, and the playback sounded accurate.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The island-style keyboard on the Inspiron 13 7000 feels shallow, thanks to its low, 1.1 millimeters of travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical). The keys require 79 grams of actuation force (65 to 70 grams is typical), which normally leads to better responsiveness but in this case, just feels stiff. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I got a score of 58 words per minute, which is 18 percent less than my usual rate.
The Inspiron's buttonless, 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad has an oddly gritty feel, with a surface that is a bit too rough. The touchpad provided accurate navigation, but in my usage, it occasionally failed to register pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe gestures. My co-workers also disliked the harsh surface, but they didn't have the same gesture issues I had.
Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 comes with an 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, all of which provided strong performance in our tests. With 10 tabs open in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge -- including streams from YouTube, Pandora and Netflix -- I didn't experience any lag.
The Inspiron 13's Core i5-8250U CPU scored 12,949 on Geekbench 4, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That showing exceeded scores from the Lenovo Yoga 720's Intel Core i5-7200U CPU (7,300) and the Asus Transformer Pro's Intel Core i7-7500U CPU (8,181). The Inspiron also outperformed the category average (6,545).
The Inspiron 13 copied a 4.97GB batch of multimedia files in 47 seconds, for a rate of 110.6 megabytes per second. That SSD speed is much slower than the Lenovo Yoga 720's 18-second drive speed (318.1MBps) and the Asus Transformer Pro's 36-second drive speed (142MBps). The Inspiron's showing also fell below the category average (214.9MBps).
The Inspiron provided decent performance on our OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, taking 3 minutes and 48 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses. That time is 14 seconds faster than the Lenovo Yoga 720's showing (4:02) and 2 minutes and 20 seconds faster than the category average (6:05). However, the Inspiron is 8 seconds slower than the Asus Transformer Pro (3:42).
With an integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics processor, the Inspiron scored an impressive 80,845 on the Ice Storm Unlimited test, a synthetic benchmark that measures graphics performance. This mark is better than the Lenovo Yoga 720's score (68,657), the Asus Transformer Pro (55,348) and the category average (56,338).
The Inspiron's Intel UHD 620 GPU is capable of playing some games. The notebook surpassed our 30-frames-per-second playability threshold in the Dirt 3 racing game test, earning a score of 50 fps. This rate falls below the Lenovo Yoga 720's 52 fps and the Asus Transformer Pro's 63 fps. However, the Inspiron 13 did outperform the category average rate of 39 fps.
Battery Life: Below average
Considering that it's a lightweight 13-inch laptop, you might expect to carry the Inspiron 13 7000 around all day. However, if you take the Inspiron on the road, you won't be able to stray too far from an outlet. Dell's 2-in-1 lasted a weak 5 hours and 32 minutes in our Laptop Mag Battery Test, which simulates continuous web browsing. That runtime is shorter than the Lenovo Yoga 720 (7:04), the Asus Transformer Pro (5:57) and the category average (8:18).
Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 stayed mostly cool during our heat test, but ran a bit warm on parts of the underside. After we played a full-screen video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 88 degrees Fahrenheit, while its keyboard registered 92 degrees and the bottom hit 94 degrees. These passed our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold, but the lower left side of the bottom measured 98 degrees.
Decent laptop webcams are hard to come by nowadays, and the camera found on the Inspiron 13 7000 doesn't stand out for being one of the good ones. With a 0.9 megapixel front camera, the Inspiron captured grainy and undersaturated photos.
When I took a selfie under the fluorescent lighting in my office, the Inspiron 13 provided a blurry image that made my features hard to make out. The Inspiron had a hard time making my eyes look distinct, even when I looked directly at the camera, and at times they were barely visible when my hair cast a shadow on my face. Vibrant colors like my hot pink hoodie showed up well, but my tan skin appeared washed out. The Inspiron also reproduced my colleague's black shirt with a purple tint.
The Inspiron 13's webcam supports Windows Hello facial recognition, which takes less than a minute to set up. This feature quickly logs you into the machine, but can be difficult to use in dark settings.
We reviewed the base model of the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1, which has an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, a 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and a 1080p screen for $849. Dell's Inspiron lineup also includes premium options, like the $1,050 configuration, which has an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, and the $1,300 configuration, which features a Core i7-8550U CPU, a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM.
Software and Warranty
Running Windows 10 Home, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 comes with a typical set of pre-loaded software, which includes some first-party utilities and third-party bloatware. Dell Power Manager Lite helps you check the battery health and tweak settings, while Dell Update ensures your device has the latest software updates. The Inspiron also comes with Netflix and the standard set of Windows freemium games such as Candy Crush Soda Saga and Bubble Witch Saga, but these apps are easy to uninstall with a simple left click.
With a number of noteworthy features, including an 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 CPU, USB Type-C support, loud audio and a bright display, the Inspiron 13 is worth the initial consideration. However, with a battery that doesn't even last 6 hours and an uncomfortable keyboard, you might want to look elsewhere.
If you want a thinner 2-in-1 with longer battery life, a better keyboard and a faster SSD, the Lenovo Yoga 720 is a superior alternative. However, if you prefer a detachable 2-in-1 that comes with a pen and a colorful display, the Asus Transformer Pro might be an even better choice. The Inspiron 13 7000, though, is a good choice if you want to get your hands on an 8th-Gen convertible.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag