With long battery life and a lightweight design, the Inspiron 11 3000 is a solid travel companion for workers. It won't break the bank, either, starting at just $350. For that price you get a sturdy 11.6-inch notebook with a versatile hybrid design, long battery life and a comfortable keyboard. And the pricier $600 model we tested for this review outperformed rival notebooks on performance tests. So should the Inspiron 11 3000 be the next notebook in your work bag?
The Inspiron 11 3000 sports a nice midnight-blue lid and a classy silver keyboard deck. It's a good-looking laptop that feels reasonably sturdy for the price, though I did notice a bit of flex in the lid.
Its relatively low weight makes it a good pick for commuters and travelers compared with competing hybrid laptops. Weighing 3.07 lbs. and measuring 0.76 inches thick, the laptop is both lighter and thinner than the HP Pavilion x360 (3.2 lbs. and 0.89 inches) and Acer Aspire Switch 11 V (3.2 lbs. and 0.8 inches).
Unlike hybrids with detachable displays, such as the Surface 3, the Inspiron 11 3000 has a special hinge that lets you fold the screen back a full 360 degrees so it can be used like a large tablet. Workers will probably get more mileage out of the intermediate modes, though, which grant you better access to the touch screen in cramped quarters — like on an airplane tray table, for example.
Don't expect to take notes using a stylus on the Inspiron 11 3000’s screen, though; the machine isn’t compatible with an active pen. Other hybrids such as the Surface 3, which boasts a pressure sensitive display and comes with a stylus, are better for digital note taking.
It could be sharper, but the Inspiron 11 3000's 11.6-inch display is more than serviceable for a small laptop like this. The display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which falls short of the Acer Aspire 11 V's full-HD (1920 x 1080-pixels) panel, but text still looks crisp, and colors are vibrant.
The Inspiron 11 3000's display could be a bit brighter. It topped out at 282 nits of brightness in our test, which is dimmer than the category average of 302 nits. The Aspire 11 V was significantly brighter, at 409 nits, though Dell's laptop screen still outshone the Asus Transformer Book Flip and Pavilion x360. A brighter display is easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight, though all these laptops are fine for typical indoor use.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Inspiron 11 3000 boasts a pretty comfortable keyboard, even if it's a bit on the shallow side. Key travel measures about 1.3 millimeters, slightly below average among laptops. On the bright side, the keys are well-spaced and offer plenty of feedback on each stroke, making for a pleasant typing experience overall.
The notebook's basic click pad is roomy enough for an 11-inch notebook, and provides responsive cursor control. Multi-finger gestures such as two-finger scrolling also proved reliable during my testing period.
A standard lineup of ports is available on the Inspiron 11 3000. The notebook's left edge includes two USB 3.0 ports for connecting accessories, as well as a full-size HDMI port for linking the machine to a larger monitor or projector.
The right edge, meanwhile, has an additional USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot for expanding the notebook's internal memory, and a security lock slot for physically securing the machine at your desk.
Despite its low price tag, the Inspiron 11 3000 is faster than the average ultraportable notebook, with more than enough power for everyday work tasks. It comes equipped with a 2.3-GHz 6th-generation Intel Core i3-6100U processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Apps opened and closed quickly, and moderate multitasking was generally smooth during my testing period.
The Inspiron 11 3000 outperformed rival notebooks on the Geekbench 3 test, which evaluates overall performance, racking up a score of 5,009. That beats out the ultraportable notebook average of 4,772, as well as the Switch 11 V (3,945) and the Pavilion x360 (3,992).
Dell's machine lasted longer on a charge than rival notebooks, which is a perk for frequent travelers and anyone else who spends time away from the office. The Inspiron 11 3000 ran for 7 hours and 56 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That time beats the Pavilion x360 (6:26) and the Switch 11 V (5:19).
Dell sells the Inspiron 11 3000 in a variety of hardware configurations. The entry-level model packs a 2.16-GHz Intel Celeron N3050 processor with 2GB and 32GB of flash storage for $300. A slightly speedier $350 model bumps it up to 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.
Workers would be better off with at least the midrange $430 model, which boasts a more powerful 2.4-GHz Pentium N3700 processor with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. Meanwhile, we reviewed the top-end model, which sells for $600 with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-6100U processor, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.
Dell’s Inspiron 11 3000 is a real bargain for business users. For as little as $350 you get a super-portable notebook with a solid keyboard, a flexible folding design and long battery life. And the higher-end $600 model offers faster performance than competing machines.
Still, workers in the market for a portable hybrid notebook have a couple of other enticing options. Acer's Aspire Switch 11 V ($600) is the strongest contender, with a higher-res display that's detachable, but it doesn't last as long on a charge as the Dell. Ultimately, the Inspiron 11 3000 is our favorite 11-inch, 2-in-1 for work.
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