Dell is on to a winner with the thin and light Inspiron 13 7000 hybrid laptop, although it's quite expensive
Dell’s Inspiron 13 7000 is a 2-in-1 device, meaning this 13.3in touchscreen laptop can also be used as a thick but relatively light tablet. It even comes with a stylus, which is something missing from many rival hybrid devices that keen drawers will appreciate.
Weighing just 1.7kg, and just 19.4mm thick, this is a supremely portable laptop. It’s made from a metallic silver material, which is actually a matt plastic rather than metal. It’s pleasant to touch, although it doesn’t give off the premium feel you get from metal chassis.
The small keyboard takes little getting used to, especially because there is an inch of unused space on both sides. It certainly feels like the keyboard could, and should, have been made slightly bigger, but after a short time we were used to its dinky proportions. Keys have a fair amount of feedback and there’s enough travel to make typing an efficient and pleasant undertaking.
The touchpad uses integrated physical mouse buttons, meaning you can press anywhere in the lower two-thirds of the pad and get a physical click. Dell touchpads have been hit-and-miss in the past, but the Inspiron 13 7000 marks a return to form.
The included stylus is also excellent. It fits into a hole in the side of the chassis and isn’t easily lost because it clicks into place securely. It’s nicely weighted and works well with the touch screen. Quite when you’ll use it over your fingers or the touchpad is another question, but those who dabble in digital design will probably appreciate it.
Storage is generous, too: not only is there 500GB of mechanical hard disk storage, the drive also has 8GB of SSD cache, meaning your most commonly used files and the operating system should be quicker to load than with traditional mechanical storage. You’re also given 20GB of Dropbox Cloud storage, which lasts for one year.
With 802.11ac Wi-Fi you’ll be able to make the most of this faster and more reliable standard as long as your network is running the latest top-end kit.
While it’s light for a laptop, it is heavy and thick for a tablet, which is effectively what the Inspiron 13 7000 becomes when you fold the screen all the way back. It’s fine to carry a short distance but it’s certainly not something you’ll want to hold in your hands on your commute, for example.
Processing performance comes from the dual-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U. The U suffix denotes its “ultra-low” power consumption. The maximum amount of power this processor will draw is 15W, meaning battery life is slightly favoured over performance. That’s not to say its performance is slow: paired with 8GB of RAM it managed an overall score of 35 in our benchmark tests. For a hybrid laptop costing under £700, this is a good score. Even in multitasking, an area where smaller form factor laptops tend to fall down, it managed 33. In the real world, no basic tasks will be beyond the reach of this laptop, with web browsing, document editing and video watching all very smooth indeed.
With no dedicated graphics, it’s no surprise that this isn’t a laptop suited to gaming. Games will be forced to rely on the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400, and for most modern 3D games this won’t be good enough. In our Dirt Showdown benchmarking test, it managed a stuttery 15.7fps, which isn’t close to being playable.
The screen is a full-HD 1,920×1,080 pixel panel. This is the minimum resolution you’re going to need if you’re planning on doing some serious multitasking, with multiple documents or web browsers side-by-side. The panel itself is very good indeed, able to cover 88.1 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. It’s also very accurate, meaning all colours are faithfully represented. Many laptops manage to cover a wide spectrum of the colour gamut, but few manage such exceptional accuracy. Contrast levels of 1,094:1 and black levels of 0.217cd/m2 make for very pleasing images, with blacks looking deep and fine details visible in movies and images. Our only slight concern is that the screen is very reflective, and even at its maximum brightness you may struggle to use this laptop outside on a sunny day.
It lasted 5h 50m in our battery rundown test which is a reasonable result, although we wouldn’t recommend going out with it without taking the charger.
We’re really impressed with the Dell Inspiron 13 7000. It’s a well-built, attractive and light laptop that transforms effortlessly into a slightly bulky tablet. With a superb screen and decent performance, we can’t think of many better hybrid devices on the market at the moment.
|Processor||Dual-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U|
|Memory slots (free)||1 (0)|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)|
|Pointing device||Touchpad, stylus|
|Graphics adaptor||Intel HD Graphics 4400|
|Total storage||500GB hybrid hard disk (8GB SSD cache)|
|Optical drive type||None|
|Ports and expansion|
|USB ports||2x USB3, 1x USB2|
|Memory card reader||SD, MMC|
|Other ports||Stylus holder|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Restore partition|
|Parts and labour warranty||One-year collect and return|
|Price inc VAT||£649|