Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Laptop Review
The latest Inspiron 2-in-1 has everything for a great price.
It used to be that you'd expect to pay a premium for a decent 2-in-1 laptop when cross-shopping with normal notebook computers. Not any more—the latest Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (MSRP $749.99) is what we'd expect to pay for a comparable notebook, but this one has nifty hinges that go all the way around. It's the best kind of plot twist (pun intended).
This well-equipped convertible notebook has the processor, solid state drive, and RAM on lock. For the money, you get exactly what we'd recommend in any notebook for a typical user. What's even better is that Dell has given the Inspiron 13 7000 an all-metal build that feels great to use. There's even standard Windows Hello facial login, something that few other convertible notebooks can boast at this price.
There are a few small flies in the ointment, unfortunately. We found that the keyboard and trackpad weren't quite what we've come to expect from Dell even though we've definitely used worse on competing models. Dell's bloatware is present, even though it's relatively tasteful, but the built-in MaxxAudio "enhancements" make podcasts sound horrible. All told, these are minor quibbles, especially if you can find this Inspiron on sale for less than its $749 MSRP.
About the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1
The Inspiron 13 7000 is one of a family of three very similar notebooks with different screen sizes. This 13-inch version is available with a range of processors from Intel i5 to i7, with only SSD flash drives instead of hard drives. We sampled the entry-level $749 version which comes well-equipped:
•6th Generation Intel i5-6200u dual-core processor
•8 GB DDR4 RAM
•256 GB SATA Solid State Drive
•Intel HD Graphics 520
•13.3-inch HD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
•WiFi AC/Bluetooth 4.0
•42WHr internal battery
If you need more storage, there's a version that has a 512 GB SSD and 12 GB RAM. Thankfully, Dell has used RAM and storage that are standard stick-types and you can find service instructions online if you want to upgrade either.
What We Liked
All you need for a great price
Where the Inspiron 7000 series wins is on value. Every model in the 13-inch size comes with the perfect amount of RAM for average users (8 GB), flash storage standard with a 256 GB SSD, 1080p screens, and very competitive Core i5 and i7 chips. Contrast the specs of this machine with the ultrabook standard MacBook Air, and you get a really nice deal all for $749. The Dell wins on a few key points, including coming with twice the amount of SSD space, a sharp 1080p IPS screen with nice viewing angles.
If I'm going to go a little further with a MacBook Air comparison, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 has a brushed-look metal chassis that feels very, very nice. And, then, there's the Yoga-style hinge that lets you flip the screen to the back. The 13-inch Inspiron 7000 is the best in the series if you want to use it as a tablet, since the 15- and 17-inch options are so big, using them as a tablet feels absurd. I thought that this 2-in-1 made a very nice tablet when I wanted to kick back at lunch and read a few long articles online. It's heavier than an iPad or even Samsung's Galaxy TabPro S when you're using it, but seeing how I rarely hold a tablet without it being propped up against my body or a table, it's not an important issue for me.
Plenty of ports let you do what you want
When a laptop gets as thin as the Inspiron 13 7000, it's easy to understand that Dell could have left some ports on the cutting room floor. Thankfully, you get a full suite of standard ports to do just about anything with. You get a USB-C port that's compatible with 3.1 speeds and even DisplayPort. In case you need a more common port for hooking up a screen, there's also a full HDMI port. On the right side, you get a USB 2.0 port and a full-sized SD card slot.
Windows Hello camera is standard
One of my absolute features that few Windows laptops come with is Windows Hello. Though there are many roads to this destination, it's Microsoft's way of letting you log in with things like a fingerprint scanner or a camera that can recognize your face. I got used to using the Hello-compatible camera that Microsoft puts on its own Surface Book, and again here on the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1. Whereas competitors might put in a cheap webcam to shave a few pennies off the cost of the device, Dell has brought some very new technology down in price so that average joes and janes can have it in their lives.
Better-than-average battery life
When I tested the 13-inch Inspiron 7000, I was expecting pretty good battery life from it. It didn't disappoint—I was able to wring 3 hours and forty minutes from this 2-in-1 in our intensive PCMark 8 battery life test, and in practice used it for web browsing and writing for most of the day during this review. It didn't best the incredible battery life of the bargain-priced Asus VivoBook E403SA, which was over seven hours, but this is still very competitive.
What We Didn't Like
This keyboard lacks feedback, and the trackpad was just a tad jumpy
We've given Dell plenty of praise for its use of Microsoft's Precision touchpad drivers in the past, and I'm pleased to say that the Inspiron 7000 series all have it standard. Unfortunately, our 13-inch review unit was just a little too sensitive, and the palm rejection didn't work as well as on other Dell trackpads. This caused the cursor to jump around more than I'd like when I was typing. There's hope that a software update could fix this problem, but as of this writing, it's a minor inconvenience.
What might have been more disappointing is the Inspiron 7000's soft-feeling keyboard. Though the keys are roughly the same shape and size as those found on the XPS series and even on the big gaming Inspiron 15 7559, this version of Dell's new standard keyboard just feels so mushy to type on. It caused me to make a noticeable amount of extra errors when compared to many other ultrabook keyboards. Thankfully, it's backlit so it's easy to see in the dark.
An awkwardly-placed volume rocker
Many convertible laptops like this tend to have power and volume buttons that are are placed so that they can be accessed when you're using it as a tablet or as a notebook. Unfortunately, the volume and power buttons on this Inspiron are towards the front of the right hand side, and I kept hitting the volume rocker when picking up this Inspiron. I'm sure you'd get used to it over time, but during our review period, this design quirk sure was annoying.
You get a slightly washed-out display
I'm a stickler for a good display and the Dell Inspiron 7000 has one that's just not as good as I'd like. It easily outclasses the MacBook Air's older screen for resolution and viewing angles, but the colors on this screen are just drab. Especially when using apps like OneNote, that has a signature swath of purple along the top bar, it became very obvious that the screen's colors aren't as vivid as they should be.
Bloatware, but Dell's sound software is the big offender
I was surprised to find that even though the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 comes with some of the usual Dell bloatware suspects, they're not always in your face. While we usually recommend going with Windows Defender over the included McAfee, the only other glaring bit of bloat was the persistent 20 GB Dropbox promotion that can be easily uninstalled.
The worst aspect of Dell's software has to the the MaxxAudio driver it uses for the sound. By default, this driver applies a very unnatural-sounding enhancement to all audio, and it made my podcasts and favorite YouTube videos sound terrible until I turned it off.
Should You Buy It?
If you're in the market for a solid 2-in-1 I totally think you should put the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 on your list. It's cheaper than the premium Yoga 900, but still gives you the flexible functionality you'd expect. It's well equipped with the ideal amount of RAM, a zippy Intel i5 chip, and plenty of flash storage. We think for a lot of people, this choice is a better jumping-off point than the venerable MacBook Air, unless you're dead set on having a traditional-style laptop or are more comfortable with macOS.
Though we thought that the keyboard and trackpad could have been a little better, the rest of the system is competitive for its $749 asking price, especially thanks to features like a USB-C port and a Windows Hello-compatible camera. If it comes down in price at all, it'll be a nice deal, although not quite on par with what something like the Asus VivoBook E403SA represents. Moreover, unlike its 15 and 17-inch sisters, the smaller 13-inch version is the Goldilocks of the bunch—just big enough to feel like you can get work done, but compact enough where it doesn't feel ridiculous to use in its tablet modes.
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