Dell's Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1 is a big-screen laptop with a flexible, hybrid design that can actually make you more productive. In fact, it's the largest 2-in-1 laptop I've ever reviewed, boasting a huge 17-inch display, plus long battery life, solid security and fast-enough performance for serious multitasking. On the other hand, the $999 system's size and heft can make folding it into its various modes feel like a workout. That's why it's ultimately a niche device, despite its solid feature set.
The Inspiron 17 promises that you'll never need to break out the projector to show a presentation to a small group. The system's flexible design means you can simply fold it back into stand mode, and its 17.3-inch screen means that meeting participants won't struggle to see your slideshow from across the conference table.
Then again, lugging this system to the conference room takes some real effort compared with smaller hybrid laptops. Tipping the scales at 6.4 lbs., the Inspiron 17 feels a lot heavier than 15-inch rivals like the 4.2-lb. HP Spectre x360 15t and the 4.8-lb. Toshiba Satellite Radius P55W. On the other hand, the Inspiron 17's size and weight are about average among 17-inchers.
The notebook's display can also be folded back a full 360 degrees into tablet mode, but let's be honest: The Inspiron 17 is too large to feel very useful as a tablet. Using touch-screen apps with the notebook balanced on my lap was pleasant, but you're going to have to hit the gym if you expect to hold it up or carry it around for any extended period of time.
The Inspiron 17 feels solid and well-built, and I didn't notice any flex in the notebook's lid or keyboard deck. However, this consumer-focused system lacks the extra durability you'll get on business-class systems, such as Dell's Latitude line.
You get a pretty typical selection of ports with the Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1. The system's left edge has a USB Type-C connector with DisplayPort support, a USB 3.0 port and an HDMI video out port. The right side, meanwhile, adds a USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot for expanding the system's internal storage, and a lock slot for physically securing the system at your desk.
The Inspiron 17's big, beautiful touch display is easily its best feature. No other 2-in-1 offers such a large display, but it's not just the screen's size that impressed me. The 17.3-inch display looks great, cranking out crisp text and vibrant colors. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, it feels roomy enough for screen-intensive tasks like editing large documents. A bit of extra resolution would have made split-screen multitasking feel more comfortable, though.
You can unlock the Inspiron 17 just by looking at it, thanks to the system's infrared camera, which is capable of extremely reliable facial recognition. Once you set it up, the system will quickly deliver you to your desktop any time it recognizes your face peering down at it. It even works in a dark room.
It's a nice perk for workers who want to keep their laptop locked down without fussing with long passwords. Plus, it works more reliably than fingerprint scanners, which sometimes require two or three swipes before they recognize you.
Serious touch typists won't love the Inspiron 17's keyboard, but it's good enough for most workers. It provides just about 1.3 millimeters of key travel, which is less than the 1.5mm that we consider the minimum for a great work laptop. On the bright side, the keys provide enough tactile feedback to make for a reasonably comfortable typing experience.
I wasn't thrilled by the placement of the keyboard layout, which is about an inch higher on the laptop's deck than average. That means you have to reach farther to get your hands onto the keyboard's home row. It's a relatively small but puzzling design decision on Dell's part that makes using the keyboard a bit less comfortable than it would otherwise be.
The Inspiron 17 offers impressive longevity for a 17-incher. The hybrid laptop ran for a solid 7 hours and 28 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi. That's loads better than the category average of 4 hours and 15 minutes, and even better than smaller systems like the Satellite Radius P55W (6:54) and the Spectre x360 15t (8:27).
The Inspiron 17 performs with aplomb, speeding through typical work tasks without any slowdown. My review unit came equipped with a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor, 12GB of RAM, 1TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card with 2GB of video RAM.
The system racked up a substantial score of 7,029 on the Geekbench 3 benchmark test, which measures overall performance. That beats the Spectre x360 15t (6,376) and the Satellite Radius P55W (6,021.)
It lagged a bit on our spreadsheet test, though, matching 20,000 names to their addresses in 4 minutes and 2 seconds. That's noticeably slower than the category average of 3 minutes and 40 seconds, but it finished about half a minute faster than either the Spectre x360 or the Satellite Radius P55W.
The system's dedicated graphics card is a boon for anyone whose workload includes such graphically intensive tasks as CAD work or 3D modeling. It scored a solid 97,422 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark test, which is more than double what we saw from the Spectre x360 and the Satellite Radius P55W. That means you can play some games after work hours, though don't expect to run newer games at their highest settings.
Dell sells the Inspiron 17 in a couple of hardware configurations. The baseline model is a good sweet spot for the average worker, with an Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card, all for $899.
For this review, I tested a pricier model, which comes with a beefier 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor for $999. That's overkill for most workers, especially since the faster processor won't show noticeable performance gains during typical work tasks.
Dell's Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1's large display and flexible design make it a killer presentation tool, but that's not all this large laptop has to offer business users. Its speedy performance can handle serious productivity, and its beefy battery lasts and lasts.
But the system remains a niche device, if only because smaller 2-in-1s are so much more manageable. The Inspiron 17's overall size and weight can make it feel downright unwieldy when you're switching between modes. It's probably too heavy to carry around the office very often, let alone on your daily commute. HP's Spectre x360 15t is a solid option that's more portable, though it has a smaller 15-inch display.
Still, if you want the benefits of a big screen on a flexible, folding laptop, there's no better option than the Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1.