Dell Inspiron 13, 7000, 2-in-1, 2018 (review)

The Dell Inspiron series are designed for consumer or home office use. The Dell Inspiron 13, 7000, 2-in-1 is a 360° hinge design, FHD touch screen, with Intel’s latest 8th generation Core i5-8250U or i7-8550U processor.

Enterprise users usually include Dell XPS, Vostro and Latitude corporate models on their shopping list, but consumers often forget about this sub-brand that is also sold in JB Hi-Fi stores.

Review model tested: Dell Inspiron 13, 7000, i7-8550U, 16/512GB 2-in-1

Model Dell Inspiron 13-7373 – RRP $2,299

The Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 comes with a choice of i5-8250U or i7-8550U processors, 8 or 16GB RAM (max 32GB), 256 or 512GB SSD, and Windows 10 Home. The base unit starts at $1,698.99.

In the box

  • The Dell Inspiron
  • An active Pen
  • Charger 19.5V/2.31A/45W (brick style – not USB-C)
  • Documentation

The first impression is a fairly sombre Dell grey matt aluminium chassis and feeling a little heavy at 1.45kg compared to more expensive units. But it is built like a tank and should last – there are even screws underneath to allow for repairs. A complete service manual is online – amazing.

 

Dell Inspiron

Open the lid/screen, and it comes alive with a quality 1920 x 1080, IPS, LED-backlit screen (that is why the lid is a little thicker than many ultralights) with good colour and contrast.

Setup is typical Windows 10, and after that, the Dell SupportAssist kicks in to download the latest drivers and firmware. I quite like SupportAssist powered by PC Doctor. Dell uses this to remotely diagnose any warranty or support issues.

Dell Inspiron

It also offers the ability to create a USB recovery drive you will need a 16GB or larger drive.

Ports – all you need built-in

This is a little heavier and thicker than many Ultrabook’s because it has integrated ports:

  • HDMI 2.0 full size capable of 4K external monitor support
  • USB-C (3.1, Gen 1, 5Gb/s) with DisplayPort passthrough (adapter required) for a second DP or HDMI monitor
  • USB-A (3.1 Gen 1, 5GB/s) with PowerShare (charges while the laptop is off as long as power brick is plugged in)
  • USB-A (3.1 Gen 1, 5Gb/s) no power share (laptop must be on to power devices)
  • 5mm combo audio port
  • SD card (full size) 3.1 slot
  • A Nobel lock hole
  • Power connector (but it also charges via the USB-C port with the right charger!)

Dell Inspiron

I make the point that these ports are all you need, and it would be rare to need a dongle for expansion. If so there are plenty of low cost, unpowered, USB-C port expanders that will offer up to four more USB-A ports, DisplayPort or HDMI, Ethernet etc.

Keyboard, trackpad, Pen

The keyboard is typical backlit, 14mm chiclet island style.

Travel is a scant 1.1mm and actuation is a heavy 79g – shallower and heavier than better keyboards on the XPS series. Typing is firm, solid, with keys bottoming – there is no bounce.

I have used better, but it does the job. In a standard typing test, I achieved about 80% of my normal speed, and I felt slightly fatigued due to the harder ‘bottoming’ keystrokes.

The trackpad is ‘rough’ – a harsher, fine sandpaper texture than glass. I am sure you would get used to it. It is Microsoft Precision Certified and will move the cursor from top right to bottom left in one swipe.

The PN338M pen is active but is not Bluetooth paired. What this means is it needs an AAAA battery (good for about 18 months), and as you place it close to the screen the pen tip emits a frequency that allows the touchscreen (it is not digitiser equipped) to know where the pen it.

Dell Inspiron

Unlike Surface or HP pens, it does not support 1024-4096 pressure levels (for wider lines or sketching) nor things like palm rejection – it is a pure ‘writing’ pen designed for the Inspiron 5000/7000 touchscreen (and later models).

Screen

It is a 13.3” 16:9, 1920 x 1080, 166ppi, IPS backlit screen. This is a quality screen not often found on consumer devices.

  • Brightness is 297 nits which is fine for in the house use but a little washed out in direct sunlight.
  • Intel UHD 620 graphics (GPU) as part of the 8th generation, low voltage, CPU supports H.265/HEVC and HDCP 2.2 for Netflix 4K and DirectX.
  • It is not a gamers machine despite the power of the i5/i7 processor, but it will play most browser-based games.

Tests put it at 110% sRGB (other reviews claim 99% sRGB and 75% Adobe RGB) and colours are accurate. While crisp it lacks a little ‘emotion’ in movies – no oversaturated colours and details in shadows. It is a work screen!

It is reasonably reflective and being touch is a fingerprint magnet – buy a microfibre cleaning cloth.

Webcam

The minuscule .9MP, 1280 x 720 web camera is grainy, blurry (limited depth of field), and has poor colour – it is barely adequate for Skype at 720p. That is not a criticism because it does exactly what it says it will.

It has an IR camera that supports Windows Hello IR login. This was quick and reliable.

Sound

Dual, bottom, down-firing speakers provide up to 80dB volume – able to fill a small room. There is low total harmonic distortion at high volume, but the treble is accentuated making the sound harsh – tinny.

The sound signature is ‘mid’ – bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed. It is good for voice and vocals.

The problem with a mid-signature on a laptop is that you simply can’t boost bass enough to listen to these rock music genres. To be fair movies and TV shows sound adequate for occasional use, but you’ll want to use headphones or a Bluetooth speaker whenever possible.

Waves MaxxAudioPro app is an equaliser with presets for many different music genres. Using our advanced spectrum analyser revealed little difference in frequency response – subtle differences at best as the physical speakers simply cannot cope with frequency shifts to produce markedly different responses.

Dual mics in top bezel were great for Skype.

Battery

In my first test – general office use (Word, Browsing, Content management, Wi-Fi AC) use it lasted a ‘work day’. That is not the best test as you don’t use it consistently for 8 hours.

In a 1080p video loop at 50% screen brightness it achieved four hours and at 720p/40% it got six.

These are not bad considering it only has a 38WHr battery – it shows how power efficient the 8th generation Intel Core processor is.

Recharge time (if the unit is switched off) is four hours.

What I noticed was that it got a little warm in tests – 39° over the CPU. The power brick also got quite warm.

Now here is a secret – it can charge by USB-C (fantastic) as well.

As long as you have a 45W USB-C charger (like the Belkin F7U010au) it will happily charge and you can connect it to a USB-C unpowered dongle like the QacQoc  (using the brick to charge) or powered USB-C docks (like the Kensington SD4600P that delivers data and charge).

Processor, RAM and SSD

The new 8th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 are great – low power draw and four cores for heaps of power.

These CPUs run at 1.6/1.8GHz respectively and can turbo boost (as required by the load) to 3.4/4GHz. Passmark is 7646/8214 respectively – much faster than their 7th generation counterparts.

It can have 8 or 16GB DDR4, 2400MHz RAM. While 8GB is perfectly fine for consumer use, I recommend you try to get 16GB – if only to use the power of the processor. My only criticism is that it is soldered to the motherboard, so you cannot upgrade it.

The SATA 6 SSD was slower than I am used to as I have NVMe SSD (I have put a comparison in brackets below).

CrystalDiskMark 6.0 reports

  • Sequential read – 524 MB/s (1643MB/s)
  • Sequential write – 461 MB/s (1268 MB/s)
  • Random read – 183 MB/s (525 MB/s)
  • Random Write – 197 MB/s (321 MB/s)

Still, these are respectable figures, and you won’t need more unless you are moving very large Gigabyte files.

Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4/5 GHz, 2×2 MIMO

Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 – 667MB/s download and 520MB/s upload. This is as good as it gets for Wi-Fi. It was a rock solid.

Bluetooth 4.2 offered a clean audio feed.

Bloatware

Bloatware is the typical Windows 10 games, and Dell Power Manager and Update. It is light considering the gigabytes installed on some brands.

Dell provides SmartByte network optimiser. My internet connection is always solid, and I don’t download huge files, browse the internet and stream video at the same time. It allows you to see these loads.

Security

A TPM 2.0 chip is embedded.

Windows Hello and unlocks the device quickly and reliably. There is no fingerprint reader.

GadgetGuy’s take – Dell Inspiron is for all of us

I have reviewed the Dell XPS series, and these are delicious, desirable, delightful and definitely above most users paygrade. Glass Precision certified trackpads, longer key throw, better screens, and more.

The Dell Inspiron is a computer for the masses – and it is fine for Joe and Jane Average. It is not a premium product but a workhorse. It gets our recommendation for a solid build, great performance and Dell support.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Slim bezels mean a smaller footprint
  • Solid design and build
  • Loud audio
  • Good performance – either processor

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Slow SSD
  • Touchpad is harsh
  • Warm spots on rear
  • The webcam is fit for purpose- barely adequate
  • Keyboard throw is shallow – not for seasoned typists
  • Thunderbolt 3 is desirable but reserved for commercial models

Price

From $1689.99 to $2,299 (as tested)

Ratings

Rated as a consumer device capable of fulfilling most consumer and student needs. Features found on the XPS series are not considered part of this class.

  • Overall: 4.6 out of 5
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – it has all you need plus more
  • Value for money: 5 out of 5 – it is the thinnest and lightest
  • Performance: 4.5 out of 5 – i5/8GB/256GB is plenty for 99% of users
  • Ease of Use: 4.5 out of 5 – 360° hinge is the best
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – utilitarian

Specifications – Dell Inspiron 13, 7000 series

CPU Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8550U
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 8GB or 16GB DDR4 (not user replaceable)
Hard Drive Size 256GB or 512GB M.2, SATA 6
Display Size 13.3”, 1920 x 1080, IPS, touchscreen
Graphics Card Intel UHD Graphics 620
Video Memory Shared 1MB
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi AC Intel AC 7265, dual band, 2×2 MIMO, 866Mb/s capable, Wi-Di
Bluetooth 4.2
Keyboard Backlit, 1.1mm throw, 79g actuation, spill resistant
Pen Dell Active Pen 338M
Touchpad 105 x 65mm Microsoft Precision certified
Lock Noble Lock slot
Ports USB-A (3.1 gen 1, 5Gb/s)
Ports USB-A (3.1 gen 1, 5Gb/s) with PowerShare
Ports USB Type-C (3.1, gen 1, 5Gb/s) with DisplayPort pass through and capable of USB-C power upstream to charge the computer
Video out HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5mm combo headphone/mic
Dual L/R mics
Dual 2W down-firing speakers
Realtek codec with Waves Audio Pro
Front camera .9MP capable of [email protected] (Skype)
Windows Hello IR camera VGA 640 x 480
Card Slots SD memory reader USB-3.1
Battery 38WHr Lithium Ion (replaceable)
Charge time if off – 4 hours
Rated for 300 full charge/discharge cycles
Charger 45W, 19.5V/2.31A
Warranty/Support 1-year limited hardware warranty after remote diagnosis.
Colour Era Gray
Size 309.66 x 215.7 x 15.51mm x 1.63kg
Website http://www.dell.com/au/p/inspiron-13-7373-2-in-1-laptop/pd

Service manual and full user manual available online – excellent as almost all (except Memory) parts are replaceable