Fast performance, a sturdy aluminum design and a really affordable price point make Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 an enticing work companion. The hybrid system, which sports a flexible, folding design, starts at an extremely affordable price of $750. It's held back by a mediocre keyboard and lackluster battery life, but it's still a very good deal for budget-minded business users.
As its name indicates, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 sports a flexible, folding design so you can use it in a handful of different modes. Folding the display back a full 360 degrees will let you use it as an oversized tablet, though the system is too bulky to feel very practical in that orientation. Workers will probably get more mileage out of the intermediate stand mode, which comes in handy for using touch-screen apps or for showing off slide shows to a small group.
The Inspiron 13 7000 is heftier than its closest rivals, which is something you'll notice while flipping the display around. It tips the scales at 3.5 lbs., making it noticeably heavier than the 2.8-lb. Lenovo Yoga 900 or the 2.4-lb. HP Spectre x360 13t.
There's no active-pen support, so this isn't the right system for workers who want to take handwritten digital notes. That's a shame, since pen support would make the system's hybrid design feel even more useful. Workers who want to take digital notes will want to check out pen-equipped notebooks like Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
A relatively generous selection of ports is available on the Inspiron 13. The left edge includes a DisplayPort and HDMI video-out port for connecting to monitors or projectors, a USB 3.0 port and a USB Type-C port for linking newer accessories.
The right edge, meanwhile, adds a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot for expanding the system's 256GB of internal storage.
Workers will appreciate the Inspiron 13's 3D webcam, which supports facial recognition. That lets you log into your laptop just by looking at it. The technology is extremely secure and reliable — each time I tried it, the system whisked me away to my desktop in just a few moments. For day-to-day security, the camera totally eliminates the need for a fingerprint reader — a feature that you'll find on many business-class laptops, but it isn't available on this device.
The Inspiron 13 sports a 1080p display that produces crisp text and sharp images. Measuring 13.3 inches, the screen is a good size for mobile workers — just big enough for serious multitasking, but not so big that the system becomes unwieldy on your commute. I wasn't too impressed by the display's color, though; pictures tended to look a bit washed out and dark compared to rival systems.
In fact, the Inspiron 13's display is one of the dimmest we've seen in its category, topping out at just 244 nits of brightness. That's noticeably dimmer than the laptop average of 306 nits. It's absolutely fine for typical indoor use, but a brighter display would have been better for working outdoors or when it's sunny .
The Inspiron 13's keyboard is just too shallow for my liking, offering about 1.28 millimeters of key travel on each stroke. That's a bit less than even the 1.5 that we consider the acceptable minimum for a work laptop. The keys are also a bit on the stiff side, which caused me to make a few more typos than normal. At least you get a good amount of tactile feedback on each stroke, which helps mitigate those issues somewhat.
The Inspiron 13 7000 also disappointed in the battery department. It ran for 7 hours and 6 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's well below the 8-hour category average, and it lags at least an hour behind rivals like the Lenovo Yoga 900 and HP Spectre x360. Dell's XPS 13 is the battery-life champ in this category, running for a whopping 11 hours and 54 minutes.
My Inspiron 13 review unit came equipped with a speedy Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM, which provides fast performance for heavy multitasking. I typed up this review on the Inspiron 13 while switching back and forth between a large spreadsheet and more than a dozen tabs in my Firefox web browser, and only rarely noticed a moment of lag while switching between tasks.
The system racked up a good score of 6,458 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. That's better than the ultraportable average of 5,193, and slightly edges out rivals like the Yoga 900 and XPS 13 on the same test.
The Inspiron 13 also performed admirably on our spreadsheet test, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in just 4 minutes and 54 seconds. That's much faster than the 7-minute average, though it was about half a minute slower than similar systems we tested, including the Spectre X360, Yoga 900 and XPS 13.
Dell sells the Inspiron 13 7000 in a handful of hardware configurations. The baseline model is probably the best sweet spot for the average worker; it comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage for $750.
You can bump up to a slightly speedier Core i7-6500U processor for $900. Meanwhile, the top-end model has the same Core i7 processor, plus 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage space for $1,000.
The Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 has a couple of drawbacks, but it's still a great deal for just $750. For that price, you get a solid 13-inch laptop with fast performance, a sharp (if dull) 1080p display, business-class durability and solid security. On the other hand, the system's below-average battery life and hefty design should give commuters and frequent travelers pause. Its mediocre keyboard also leaves something to be desired.
The Inspiron 13's value is hard to deny, though, especially since similarly equipped rivals will cost you at least $250 more. Both the HP Spectre x360 and the Lenovo Yoga 900 will run you a minimum of $999. While they both offer more portable designs and better battery life than the Inspiron 13, Dell's system provides better bang for your buck.