April 21, 2024


Think spectacular technology

Dell’s Inspiron 2-in-1 gets 8th gen Intel power

What’s the most important element of a laptop? To me, it’s not necessarily the speed, although that’s important too. It’s how using the laptop feels.

Starting at $850, AU$1,799 or £899, Dell’s Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 isn’t quite a budget laptop, but it’s not priced like a premium one either. For that midrange cost, you’ll get a machine that just feels right, thanks to its stellar trackpad and keyboard, which is an area some other hybrids skimp on.

But after using the laptop for a while, as in just a few hours, you run into a problem: battery life. The weak battery life of the Inspiron will be a real issue for people who do their work away from a power socket.

Still, there’s a lot to be impressed by here, especially for a laptop that’s a good chunk under $999.

That’s not to say upgrades aren’t available. You can get a model with an i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, which will set you back $1,049, AU$2,399 or £1,018, and there is a variant (the model we tested) with 512GB of storage for $1,100, AU$2,399 or £1,219. You’ll want to go for either the base model or the smaller i7 variant, as for $1,200 you could instead opt for a similarly specced XPS 13

Two steps forward, one leap back

Last year’s Inspiron 13 7000 was a big hit at CNET, as it offered an impressive feature set for just $750. A quick recap: It had a speedy i5 processor (in the base model), Windows Hello facial recognition, a backlit keyboard and full-HD touchscreen display (that’s 1,920×1,080 pixels), and of course its ability to be flipped over and converted into a tablet. All pleasant surprises in an inexpensive package. And yes, unlocking your laptop with your face is still the coolest thing ever, even if it can’t turn your likeness into an emoji

This model has all that, but it’s not quite as much of a bargain — and not just because it’s more expensive.

First, the pros. Intel’s new eighth-generation processors give the Inspiron a considerable power boost. Our i7-powered Inspiron scored almost double what last year’s model did in some benchmarks, and is roughly as fast as many much-more pricey competitors, including Dell’s own excellent XPS 13.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1.

Ian Knighton/CNET

Plus, the Inspiron looks a little classier thanks to its brushed-aluminum Era Gray chassis. It’s now a touch thinner and lighter, at 0.61 inches (15.5mm) and 3.2 pounds (1.45 kg), down from 0.76 inches (19.3mm) and 3.5 pounds (1.59 kg). It moves the power button from the front right edge, a woefully bad design choice, to a more standard spot next to the keyboard.

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