I’m going to save you a lot of time. Do you like how this laptop looks? Does it meet your tight budget? Then buy it. Buy it and never look back.
I’ve never said that about a laptop before, but the Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 series is truly exceptional. For just $750, these 13- and 15-inch laptops don’t merely punch above their price bracket, they do it without removing any of the features you’d want and expect from a PC in 2016.
Update, September 2016: Just don’t buy the 17-inch model. The Dell Inspiron 17 7000 isn’t nearly as good as its smaller 13 and 15-inch cousins.
Where Dell excels
To reach a sub-$800 price, PC manufacturers typically cut a lot of corners. This Dell doesn’t.
- While manufacturers are usually happy to sell you a plastic laptop by adding a thin veneer of metal up top, this Dell is metal all the way around.
- While some vendors stuff a crappy low-resolution LCD panel into their cheaper computers — or maybe one with terrible viewing angles — both the 13- and 15-inch Dell come standard with a crisp 1,920×1,080-pixel IPS touchscreen display that’s completely competent.
- While some cheaper laptops start with a slower Intel Core M processor, Dell goes tried and true here with a current-gen Core i5 chip.
- While some of the very best laptops pretend to give you a deal by sticking you with a paltry 4GB of memory or 128GB of solid state storage and charge extra for more, this Dell comes standard with 8GB and 256GB modules that won’t bog down your system.
- While some laptop manufacturers forget about having a decent backlit keyboard and touchpad in their never-ending quest for thinness, the Dell is well above average on both counts. No issue with scrolling or pinch to zoom, which is rare for Windows laptops.
- And while some laptops have drastically different specs, ports and prices if you opt for a version with a larger screen, the 13- and 15-inch Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 are practically identical. (Only the 17-inch version is different — we’ll review it separately in the weeks to come.)
But Dell’s new laptop isn’t merely competent for less money, it goes above and beyond. This $750 computer is one of the very few with a Windows Hello face-recognizing camera, and it’s one of my favorite new features in years.
The camera lets you securely log into Windows with your face just by looking at the screen. Just train the computer to recognize your face (Start -> “Set up face sign-in”) and there’ll be no need to type passwords when you log into Windows. Because the infrared camera can see in 3D, it can’t easily be fooled by a picture of a face: Only the real deal.
It’s a shame the camera’s a little sluggish to start up — way slower than the one we tested inlate last year — but it’s still faster than typing a password. I use it constantly.
The only notable flaws
The Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 has two weak points. The first is the terribly-placed power button on the front right edge of the machine. I’m still trying to train myself not to accidentally put the computer to sleep when I pick up this PC.
The second is battery life. I only saw about 6 hours from the 13- and 15-inch models in our standard video streaming playback test, and roughly 4-5 hours of real work. That’s not great for a thin-and-light laptop — in our tests, the best usually muster 8-10 hours of streaming video playback on a charge.