With no major weaknesses and excellent battery life, the Inspiron 2-in-1 is a great all-rounder
- Long battery life
- Excellent sound system
- Decent selection of I/O ports
- Heavy for a 2-in-1
- No numeric keypad
- Display could be brighter
Windows convertibles, or 2-in-1s, are getting bigger – a tacit admission that no matter how small and light you make a laptop, it will still be too big and heavy to function as a tablet. Once a laptop maker has admitted that to itself, it makes sense to focus on how it works in “tent” or “stand” mode, building a device with a big screen, decent speaker system and capable chipset, while doing away with trying to make it as light as an iPad.
Hence the current crop of 16in convertibles from the likes of LG and its 2-in-1 version of the Gram 16, Samsung’s super-light Galaxy Book2 Pro 360, HP’s Spectre x360 16, and now Dell’s new, fully convertible 16in Inspiron laptop. All these machines forgo absolute compactness and lightness in the name of everyday usability and versatility.
Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: What you need to know
The new Inspiron 16 7620 replaces one of Dell’s signature mass-market machines, the Inspiron 16 7610. The old model was built around Intel’s 11th-generation Tiger Lake CPUs, and was only available as a conventional clamshell. The new 7620 uses the latest Intel Alder Lake chips, and as well as being available as a regular laptop, it arrives in a convertible model, too, the design of which owes quite a lot to the smaller 14in Inspiron 14 7420 convertible.
There’s another change to note as well. All the new Inspiron 16 machines (that’s the 16, the 16 2-in-1 and the 16 Plus) lack the 7610’s numeric keypad. If you want one of those, you’ll need to look at the Inspiron 15 machines.
Like all Inspiron models, the new 7620 is aimed at the general user. As such, it’s suitable for home and work use: it’s a true all-purpose workhorse, but with enough flair and pizzazz to not bore potential customers to tears. Inspiron machines have traditionally offered good value for money to attract buyers who find the laptops in Dell’s XPS range a little too rich for their blood. The new 7620 is no exception, offering a lot for your money, no matter the spec level you opt for.
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Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: Price and competition
Configuration tested: Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, Intel Iris Xe GPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, 16in 1,920 x 1,200 IPS touchscreen; Price: £1,049
The entry-level model in the Inspiron 2-in-1 range costs just £849, but for that money you get only a Core i5-1235U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Tick all the boxes and you’ll get a Core i7-1260P chip, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia MX550 discrete graphics, a 1TB SSD and a 4K OLED touchscreen – a combination that will set you back £1,280.
In the middle of the pack is the model on review, which features the i7 chip and 16GB of RAM – but without the Nvidia graphics card – and with a Full HD IPS touchscreen. I think all the variations represent solid value, but do consider that rival LG and Samsung models bundle in a stylus, while the Dell doesn’t.
Samsung’s super-light Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 costs more than the new Dell (right now it’s on offer at £1,299, down from £1,549) but it’s lighter at just 1.41kg and you get a Super AMOLED display, numeric keypad and a stylus as standard. It feels rather flimsy compared to the Dell, though.
LG’s 2-in-1 variant of the Gram 16 laptop is another super-light machine weighing just 1.48kg but, again, the low weight makes it feel a little flimsy next to the Dell, although it does meet the MIL-STD-810G standard. At £1,750, it’s more expensive than the Inspiron, but you do get a very fine Wacom stylus in the deal.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio is a refreshingly different take on the whole 2-in-1 idea, although you’ll have to make do with a 14.4in (albeit 2,400 x 1,600 201ppi) screen. It isn’t the cheapest option, with prices starting at £1,450 – and for that you only get the 11th-generation Core i5 chip. You can spec it up with an RTX 3050Ti GPU, but that will push up the price perilously close to £3,000.
If all you want is a laptop with a 16in touchscreen and aren’t too bothered about the 2-in-1 contortions, then Huawei’s MateBook 16s could fit the bill. The Core i7-12700H processor delivers some serious performance, and the 2.5K display is a cracker. The sound system is excellent, too, matching that of the new Dell. Right now it’s on sale for just £1,100, making it excellent value.
Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: Design and build quality
Dell’s latest convertible is an entirely aluminium affair – which, on the one hand, makes it very solid, but on the other, rather weighty too. At 2.2kg, it’s too heavy to be used as a tablet in any traditional sense, and it’s significantly weightier than rival devices from Samsung (1.41kg) and LG (1.4kg) – although both those machines feel more flimsy. At 357 x 252 x 19mm, the Inspiron is par for the course when it comes to 16in laptops.
The essential feature of any 2-in-1 is the quality of the hinges: they require the strength and solidity to firmly hold the two parts of the device in whatever position you place them. The Dell’s hinges are very tightly engineered, ensuring there’s no give or slip in any position. Put the Inspiron into stand mode, so it’s resting on the keyboard – the keyboard and touchpad are deactivated when the screen is angled back beyond 180 degrees – and you’ll experience a small degree of bounce when typing on the onscreen keyboard. That’s an issue with all 2-in-1s, but less so with the Dell than it is with the competition.
Design-wise, the Inspiron is a rather smart if somewhat anonymous silver affair. The more interesting-looking Dark Green model is only available with the OLED display and discrete graphics. Lesser models come in this Platinum Silver colour scheme.
My only minor objections to the design are the raised lip that runs around the edge of the display, and the sharp edge where the sides of the base meet the base panel. It isn’t so much to do with the way those two design features look, but rather how they feel. Every time a finger or thumb brushed either edge, it made the Inspiron feel rather cheap – even though it’s actually solidly put together.
There’s a decent selection of I/O ports, with two Thunderbolt 4 and one 5Gbits/sec Type-A USB port on the left, along with an HDMI 1.4 video output. On the right, you’ll find another Type-A port, a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD card reader. There’s no DC-in, so you lose one of the Type-C ports to charging duties. The bundled charger has only a 65W output, making charging rather leisurely. What the Dell lacks are any side-mounted controls – specifically power and volume – to use when in tablet, stand or tent mode.
Removing the bottom of the Inspiron is a straightforward job, and once inside I was surprised to find two SODIMM memory card slots – a rare feature in laptops such as this. There’s only one SSD slot, but removing/replacing the unit looks pretty straightforward, as does removing the rest of the internal components such as the wireless card and the battery. That wireless card takes the form of Intel’s ubiquitous AX211, which offers support for the latest 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E standard while the Bluetooth radio is v5.2.
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The Dell keyboard won’t win any awards, but it’s competent enough. The grey chiclet keys have a slightly soft touch to them, and an ever-so-slightly vague feel, but they offer a decent amount of travel (1.5mm) and there’s nothing questionable about the layout. The white/grey keycaps work very well with the two-stage backlight, ensuring everything is clearly legible, even in ambient lighting.
Opinions will be divided over the wisdom of using the space between the edge of the keyboard and the edge of the base for speakers, rather than for a numeric keypad, but that will depend on your usage scenario. Personally, on a general-use machine such as this, I’ll take better speakers over a keypad.
The touchpad – like the rest of the palm rest – is made of mylar-covered aluminium and is very pleasant to the touch. It has quite an unusual design, being cut out of the deck on the bottom and sides, but merging seamlessly with it at the top. The end result is quite large at 133 x 90mm, and great to use, with the click action at the bottom offering a greater degree of travel than usual, but still a very crisp and positive action. It isn’t too loud, either.
For a 1080p affair, I found the webcam to be slightly fuzzy – although, to be fair, it was much better than the 720p modules that are still all too common on laptops in this price bracket. Colour balance isn’t too bad, although there is a tendency towards overexposure if a bright light source intrudes into the camera’s field of view. The webcam doesn’t support Windows Hello IR facial recognition, but the fingerprint reader that’s integrated into the power button works reliably, so that isn’t the end of the world.
Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: Display and audio
The Inspiron’s display isn’t the brightest I’ve come across, maxing out at 313cd/m², but it has good colour support with 96.4% sRGB gamut coverage and a solid contrast ratio at 1,302:1. It’s colour-accurate, too, with a Delta E deviation against the sRGB standard of just 1.9. The 141dpi pixel density – a by-product of a 1,920 x 1,200 matrix stretched over a 16in diagonal – is just high enough to avoid any pixellation to the naked eye, but the refresh rate is a basic 60Hz.
As a user interface, the fully laminated glass-covered screen can’t be criticised, with taps and swipes all recognised perfectly.
The speaker system is outstanding. Comprising four speakers that are each rated at 2W – two firing downward at the front corners and two mounted on either side of the keyboard – the maximum volume recorded from a pink noise source at 1m distance was an impressive 79.3dB(A). It isn’t just the volume that impresses, but the quality of the sound, too. Displaying plenty of bass and detail, combined in a very open soundscape, the Inspiron’s speaker system is genuinely impressive.
Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: Performance and battery life
Intel’s 12-core Core i7 1260P processor is a common component in laptops of this class, also found inside LG’s Gram 16, Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 Pro 36 and HP’s Spectre x360 160. Performance is just a little weaker than the first two devices, which may be down to the RAM being DDR4 rather than the DDR5 in the LG and Samsung. Nonetheless, the 188 points scored in our multimedia benchmark is still a solid result, as is the GeekBench 5 multicore score of 6,995.
Naturally, graphics performance is limited as a result of the integrated Iris Xe processor, so you won’t be playing any heavyweight games; the GeekBench 5 OpenCL score of 15,892 was lower than the Gram 16 (18,921) or Galaxy Book2 Pro 360 (19,322). However, I can’t really quibble with Dell about that too much when, for an extra £160, you can opt for the Nvidia MX550 GPU.
Battery life is excellent, with a rundown time of 13hrs 50mins in our standard test that involves looping a standard-definition video in VLC, with the screen turned down to 170cd/m² and in aeroplane mode until the lights go out. That result is largely thanks to the higher-than-average 86Wh capacity battery inside the Inspiron, which means you’ll easily get through a full day of even demanding activity on a single charge.
The Kioxia-made SSD in my review machine recorded some pretty average transfer times, with sequential read and write speeds of 2,691MB/s and 1,891MB/s respectively. For the average user those speeds should be fine, but in this metric, the LG Gram 16 well and truly has the Inspiron beat.
Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 review: Verdict
There’s plenty to like about the new Inspiron 2-in-1. It’s great value, no matter which model you choose, and both the battery life and sound system are class-leading. The Full HD display won’t blow you away, but if you want a better display then the 4K OLED option won’t break the bank. The Dell is a fair bit heavier than the obvious competition from LG and Samsung, but it feels more solidly put together than either of those models. For potential business users, the absence of a numeric keypad may be an issue, but for most home users I suspect that using the space for the mighty speaker system is the right choice. It’s a shame Dell doesn’t bundle a stylus, though – 2-in-1s really shouldn’t ship without one.