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Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 review: Hands on with Dell’s premium Chrome OS laptop

Dell refreshes its premium Chrome OS-powered laptop range with the Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1, but is it any better than the Pixelbook?

Chromebooks get a bad rep. For years, these cloud-only devices running Google’s own laptop operating system weren’t particularly special, with attentions focused on the cheap and, frankly rather disposable, education market. Inexpensive, plasticky, throwaway devices rarely make the headlines, do they?

But in recent years we’ve started to see a number of premium Chromebooks show up in shops. From Google’s own efforts with the excellent Pixelbook, to well-priced alternatives such as HP’s Chromebook 14, there’s now plenty to choose from if Chrome OS is your operating system of choice.

Now Dell has thrown its hat into the premium Chromebook ring, with the launch of the clunkily-named Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 at IFA 2018. Packed with speedy internals and a top-notch chassis, this hybrid Chromebook isn’t to be trifled with.

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Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 review: Key specifications, price and release date

  • 14in 1,920×1,080 Full HD IPS touchscreen
  • Dual-core Intel Core i3-8130U processor
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 128GB eMMC storage
  • 56Whr battery
  • Chrome OS
  • 230 x 329 x17 mm
  • 1.8Kg
  • UK price: TBC ($599)
  • UK release date: October

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 review: Design, key features and first impressions

Dell’s 14in Chromebook 2-in-1 looks particularly swish. With a sleek aluminium chassis and ultra-thin bezels surrounding the display, this stylish Chrome OS laptop is a far cry from the budget Chromebooks of yesteryear.

It’s a little heavy, though. Weighing 1.8Kg, Dell’s Chrome OS hybrid is heavier than its plastic-constructed counterparts and isn’t as backpack-friendly, although this is something you’re simply going to have to swallow if your keen eye is fixed on those premium materials.

Open the softly textured gun-metal grey lid and you’ll spot the 14in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution IPS display, complete with a pin-sharp pixel density of 157 PPI. The touch-enabled screen, in particular, is rather lovely, although it was quite reflective on the show floor and it did pick up fingerprints fairly easily. A handy Windows Touch certified stylus slides out from the underside of the device for on-the-go note taking.

Powering the laptop is Intel’s latest eighth-generation Core i3-8130U processor, which is clocked at 2.2GHz and capable of boosted clock speeds up to 3.4GHz. This works in tandem with 4GB of DDR4 RAM for multitasking and 128GB of eMMC storage for larger media files.

As such, this laptop hybrid is particularly speedy in operation. Juggling between multiple applications felt fluid and responsive, and I expect Dell’s Chrome OS hybrid will fly through our suite of Chromebook benchmarking tests when we receive a unit for review.

Elsewhere, the Inspiron Chromebook 14 is fitted with a pair of USB Type-C ports on both edges, with a microSD slot, power button and volume rocker sitting on the right side. A regular full-fat USB 3.1 connector is squeezed onto the left edge, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Before we end, let’s discuss the Chromebook 14’s reversible prowess. As a 2-in-1 hybrid, this device can be used as either a laptop or a tablet thanks to a pair of 360-degree hinges located underneath the display. Switching between modes works rather well, too, and the screen manages to stay in place securely even when using the device in ‘tent mode’.

Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1 review: Early verdict

Dell’s latest Chromebook is rather good on first impression. I didn’t think i’d ever write a positive thing about a Chrome OS laptop, but my previously glum misconceptions are beginning to change.

Why? Well, that’s thanks to fancy, premium cloud-only devices such as the Inspiron Chromebook 14 2-in-1, and I look forward to delivering my final verdict in the very near future.

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