We go hands-on with Dell’s latest budget portable laptop.
Dell’s Inspiron line has always been a reliable budget choice, but it’s not always been the most stylish. With the Inspiron 13 7000 range that could change. It has a new, smarter design that gives the laptop the looks that I’d more associate with a high-end ultrabook. I got some hands-on time with the models to see what’s in store.
The all-metal chassis looks and feels fantastic. There’s a choice of silver or Champagne Pink; the latter looks great and is quite a subtle colour.
It’s a thin case, but not to the point where there’s no room for ports. On one side of the laptop you get an HDMI output, USB-C, USB 3.0 and a 3.5mm audio output.
On the other side, there’s a second USB 3.0 port and an SD card slot.
Taking some design cues from the excellent XPS 13, Dell has largely got rid of the screen’s bezels, fitting a 13.3-inch screen a smaller chassis. While the XPS 13’s InfinityEdge screen is that little bit smarter, with barely a bezel in sight, the Inspiron 13 7000 isn’t far behind.
With 300 nits of brightness, the screen should cope well in most lighting, although I’ll need to run the usual quality tests to see how good the display is. I like the 180-degree hinges, letting the display fold flat; it makes using the laptop far easier in practically any position.
The advantage of the Inspiron 13 7000’s slightly thicker top bezel is that the webcam is located in the traditional place. On the XPS 13, the camera is at the bottom-left of the screen, giving you a rather unflattering angle and the distracting sight of your hands frantically typing away during a conference call for everyone else.
Even if you don’t want to video chat, the new webcam is Windows Hello compatible, so you can log in using just your face. That’s not your only option, as there’s a fingerprint reader built into the power button. If you tap the power button to wake the laptop, Windows 10 will even helpfully log you in automatically.
A chiclet-style keyboard sits in the middle of the chassis. Quickly typing on it, I found the keys responsive and there was no flex in the keyboard tray. The touchpad underneath seems to be good quality, too. I’d need longer with the laptop to really get an idea of the keyboard and touchpad’s quality.
Dell is using 8th-Gen Intel processors in the Inspiron 13 7000 range, with a choice of i5 and i7 models, so performance should be good. Again, I’ll have to wait for a review sample to see just how fast the laptop is and how long its battery lasts.
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