Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Laptop Review
Dell's Inspiron 7000 is a budget-friendly laptop with a dash of class
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It wasn't too long ago that when shopping for a laptop, you had to skimp somehow. PC laptops under $1,000 either had limited RAM, a small SSD, or flimsy build quality. That’s why last year's Dell's Inspiron 7000 series 2-in-1 laptops left a positive impression on me. These premium consumer models have nice IPS screens, lots of standard amenities, and enough hardware specs to tackle everyday tasks without breaking a sweat.
For 2017, Dell kept everything I loved and added a new 7th generation Intel processor to spice things up. The new Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (7378) (MSRP $749) is another good buy, giving you everything you'd want for well under a grand. Not only do you get 8 GB of RAM and a just-right 256 GB SSD, but there's also a standard backlit keyboard, Windows Hello camera, and Microsoft Precision touchpad. Wrap it up in a sturdy-feeling aluminum case, and you've got a respectable computer for the money.
If I had to criticize the Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 for anything, it's that the volume and power buttons are still annoyingly laid out, and the battery life isn't stellar for the most part. Those critiques aside, this is one laptop I can heartily recommend in its base trim to anyone who wants a solid, affordable 2-in-1.
About the Dell Inspiron 13 7378
Few 2-in-1 laptops come as well-equipped as this Dell for the money. Even the entry-level version we tried has what it takes to handle most folks' work whether it's streaming Netflix movies or typing away in OneNote. This is what you get for your $750:
•Intel Core i5-7200U dual-core processor
•8 GB DDR4 RAM
•256 GB SATA M.2 SSD
•13-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touchscreen
•Intel HD Graphics 620
•WiFi AC/Bluetooth 4.2
•Windows Hello-compatible IR camera
It's worth noting that like many other Inspiron models, Dell uses pretty standard parts inside so upgrades are actually doable. It uses M.2 solid state drives and normal DDR4 RAM. That said, for most people, the $750 base spec is great just the way it is.
If you want a bigger 2-in-1 notebook, well, Dell makes those too. The Dell Inspiron 7000 15 2-in-1 (7579) and the Dell Inspiron 7000 17 2-in-1 (7779) are blown up versions of this model that cost a little more on average. If you're planning at all to use your Dell as a tablet, I find that the 13-inch benefits from its smaller footprint, and that the 15 and 17-inchers are just too big for anything but normal laptop usage.
What We Like
Well-spec'd for starting at $750
Dell's premium XPS lineup proves that the company knows how to make a computer. This Inspiron learns a few tricks from the XPS 13, but at a budget. Sporting the exact same 7th Generation Intel chips as Dell's ultrabooks, you're getting top-shelf performance for a lot less. Most specs from Dell sport an Intel Core i5-7200U chip, with an optional i7-7500U in more expensive models. No matter which chip you get, expect capable performance from the Inspiron 7000.
What helps raise the profile of the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is that every model you can buy comes with a responsive solid state drive as standard equipment. And you won't find any tiny 128 GB drives in these Inspirons—Dell gives users at least 256 GB of storage space. Worried about having enough RAM to multitask? Dell's given every model of the 7000 series at least 8 GB of quick DDR4 RAM, and the user-accessible RAM slots make upgrades possible if you need more RAM.
In some areas, the Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 outdoes the XPS line. For instance, even the least expensive 7000 2-in-1 models have Windows Hello facial login thanks to a standard infrared webcam. This is one of my favorite features, and it's a stellar perk to get from a laptop under $1,000.
Good creature comforts, quality-feeling metal body
Last year, the Inspiron 7000 we tried had a less-than-amazing keyboard and a good trackpad. This year, either I'm getting more lenient on keyboards (perhaps due to weird, bad keyboards on models like the MacBook Pro and Yoga 910), or Dell's tightened up the typing experience this time around. The Inspiron 7000's standard backlit keyboard feels great, and I had few problems either in short bursts or longer typing sessions. I'd say it's almost as good as the keyboard on the XPS 13 and MacBook Air, which are two of my favorite keyboards to type on.
The plastic trackpad might not have the smoothest texture in the entire world, but at least it's backed by Microsoft Precision drivers. It's a nice upgrade in day-to-day responsiveness compared the software other laptop makers' trackpads rely on. No, it still doesn't rival Apple's MacBook Pro for trackpad quality, but it's nothing to sneeze at either.
The biggest difference between Dell's cheaper Inspiron 5000 models and this 7000 model is all-metal construction. It feels really nice to hold, and the aluminum upper case gives the laptop a tighter, more rigid feel. Details like a brushed finish on the screen and around the keyboard, along with a polished bevel on the display's outer edge lend the Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 series a touch of class.
What We Don't Like
Volume and power buttons still in a bad place
If there's one criticism I had of this design that remains unchanged with the 2017 version—its volume rocker and power button are awkwardly placed. By putting them on the side of the laptop, right where you might grab it, you're gonna put your laptop to sleep accidentally when moving it around. It's something you may never get used to, and it's constantly annoying.
It's too heavy for prolonged tablet use
Some 2-in-1 designs are really meant to be used as a tablet, but this Inspiron just doesn't shine when held in your hands. At around four pounds, it ain't light. Its 360-degree hinges are best used to prop it up like a tent for media consumption.
As a tablet, I prefer using this laptop folded back and propped up on my legs when lying down. That said, you don't have to think of this as a 2-in-1 if you don't want to. It's a perfectly capable laptop when used that way. It has none of the tradeoffs of other 2-in-1 designs, like Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 or even Dell's own XPS 13 2-in-1, since it's a standard laptop first and foremost.
Battery life hasn't improved
Intel's chips are supposed to get faster and more efficient year-over-year, and I've seen this trend continue in the 7th generation. However, the Inspiron 7000 we tested this year hasn't improved, at least as far as battery life goes. In our intensive PCMark 8 Home test, the latest Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 only made it around 3 hours and 20 minutes. That's an okay figure, but it wasn't the improvement I was hoping for. It fared a bit better in a Chrome browsing test, running for 3 hours and 50 minutes looping websites before the battery ran down.
As it stands, the Dell to grab for awesome battery life is still the XPS 13, which gave us PCMark8 battery numbers nearly double that of the Inspiron.
A bit of bloatware isn't terrible, it could be better
While we'll never see bloatware like in the early 2000s ever again, Dell's still put a few bits of annoying software on its consumer PCs that you'll want to uninstall. First is a persistent Dropbox offer to get free storage for a year. This large pop-up will sometimes rear its ugly head when you start-up, and other times when you wake your PC from sleep. Perhaps the most obnoxious offender of an otherwise pristine Windows 10 installation is McAfee, which will pop-up asking to be set up.
Sure, you get a year's subscription to McAfee's antivirus program but expect a deluge of panhandling messages as soon as that time's almost up. I heartily recommend uninstalling McAfee and sticking to the built-in Windows Defender software. As always, use your noggin before downloading any file you can't reliably source. Sane and savvy browsing will keep your computer healthier, longer.
Should You Buy It?
Yes! It's a nice PC with all the fixin's for a sweet price
Putting its so-so reputation behind it, the Dell Inspiron brand has been firing on all cylinders lately, especially when it comes to the premium 7000-series models. Whether you treat it like a tablet, or prefer to use it as a laptop, the latest 7000-series Inspiron offers up value and a premium feel for a lot less than its competition.
From stem to stern, this 7000-series model gives you plenty to appreciate without looking too shabby. Sure it doesn't have the best battery life or the most amazing display money can buy, but it's good enough, fast enough, and doggone it, we give it our seal of approval.
That said, if you spend only a couple hundred dollars more, you're looking at one of Dell's own XPS 13 ultrabooks. I'd say that's a great upgrade if you value battery life and weight. But, y'know what? Dell's giving users one heck of a laptop here, combining eye-catching design, the latest technology, and a great-feeling metal shell, all for less than $800.
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