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Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (2017) review: A slick 2-in-1 that needs more juice

It's fast, has a terrific keyboard and touchpad and a bunch of nifty features. The battery life is a real shame, though.

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Daniel Van Boom
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Daniel Van Boom

Senior Writer

Daniel Van Boom is a Senior Writer based in Sydney, Australia. Daniel Van Boom covers global tech issues, culture, video games and much more. Daniel Van Boom loves speaking about himself in the third person.

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4 min read

What's the most important element of a laptop? To me, it's not necessarily the speed, although that's important too. It's how using the laptop feels.

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7.8

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (2017)

The Good

Dell's Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is a speed machine thanks to Intel's new 8th gen processors, and it has a super comfortable touchpad and keyboard combo. Plus, facial recognition.

The Bad

The battery life is a couple hours short of average, and its touchscreen is a touch too reflective.

The Bottom Line

It's not quite as sweet a deal as last year's model was, but the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is still one of the best sub-$999 laptop options out there.

Starting at $850, AU$1,799 or £899, Dell's Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 isn't quite a budget laptop, but it's not priced like a premium one either. For that midrange cost, you'll get a machine that just feels right, thanks to its stellar trackpad and keyboard, which is an area some other hybrids skimp on.

But after using the laptop for a while, as in just a few hours, you run into a problem: battery life. The weak battery life of the Inspiron will be a real issue for people who do their work away from a power socket.

Still, there's a lot to be impressed by here, especially for a laptop that's a good chunk under $999.

The many sides of Dell's new Inspiron 2-in-1

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That's not to say upgrades aren't available. You can get a model with an i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, which will set you back $1,049, AU$2,399 or £1,018, and there is a variant (the model we tested) with 512GB of storage for $1,100, AU$2,399 or £1,219. You'll want to go for either the base model or the smaller i7 variant, as for $1,200 you could instead opt for a similarly specced XPS 13

Two steps forward, one leap back

Last year's Inspiron 13 7000 was a big hit at CNET, as it offered an impressive feature set for just $750. A quick recap: It had a speedy i5 processor (in the base model), Windows Hello facial recognition, a backlit keyboard and full-HD touchscreen display (that's 1,920x1,080 pixels), and of course its ability to be flipped over and converted into a tablet. All pleasant surprises in an inexpensive package. And yes, unlocking your laptop with your face is still the coolest thing ever, even if it can't turn your likeness into an emoji

This model has all that, but it's not quite as much of a bargain -- and not just because it's more expensive.

First, the pros. Intel's new eighth-generation processors give the Inspiron a considerable power boost. Our i7-powered Inspiron scored almost double what last year's model did in some benchmarks, and is roughly as fast as many much-more pricey competitors, including Dell's own excellent XPS 13.

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Enlarge Image
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Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1.

Ian Knighton/CNET

Plus, the Inspiron looks a little classier thanks to its brushed-aluminum Era Gray chassis. It's now a touch thinner and lighter, at 0.61 inches (15.5mm) and 3.2 pounds (1.45 kg), down from 0.76 inches (19.3mm) and 3.5 pounds (1.59 kg). It moves the power button from the front right edge, a woefully bad design choice, to a more standard spot next to the keyboard.

But all that comes with one big drawback in battery life. The 38-watt-hour battery is smaller than last year's model, so the laptop doesn't last as long. There are three power modes, but the device averaged 4 hours, 40 minutes in our battery tests, which is a couple hours weaker than average. On heavier power settings it lasted 20-40 minutes less. I got between three and four hours of real-world use out of it before a recharge was necessary, which is way too low.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

Price as reviewed $1,249
Display size/resolution 13.3-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel touch display
CPU 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U
aMemory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4 & 5 GHz, 2x2
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

This is an issue, because the Inspiron, with its speed, touchscreen and comfort, is an otherwise excellent device for productivity. But battery life is a key factor for most people who use their computers for work. Your accessibility to power outlets is something to consider before buying.

Feel the buzz

While the grey chassis is an improvement over older versions, the Inspiron still doesn't do much to actually inspire. It looks industrial, and doesn't pull off the grey frame/black keyboard mix as well as Apple's MacBooks, from which it obviously drew inspiration.

But what the 2-in-1 lacks in style, it makes up for in substance -- battery notwithstanding. The responsive, smooth trackpad and spacious keyboard are a joy to use, making this a laptop well-suited for work.

That's not too much of a surprise, considering Dell's XPS laptops have similar strengths. Still, Windows laptops with such quality touchpads and keyboards are rare, especially ones that are under $999.

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 Its Era Gray chassis looks industrial.

Ian Knighton/CNET

But not everything in the Inspiron feels as premium. The 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution display is vibrant and sharp, but has some noticeable glare. It's mostly forgivable in an office scenario, but is troublesome when watching videos, as a darker screen means more reflection.

A glossy screen is a common problem for touch displays, but it has a double whammy effect here. Since you always need the brightness turned all the way up to minimize glare, the battery life takes another hit.

The Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 is still a great package, and it certainly feels like it's worth more than its asking price -- but that's with a heavy asterisk. If you need a laptop that runs all day, this is not the one for you. It's a shame the Inspiron's battery doesn't give it the power it needs to be truly exceptional. 

Video playback battery drain test (streaming minutes)

LG gram (13-inch, 2017) 690Acer Swift 3 511Asus Pro B9440U 497HP Spectre 13 (2017) 490Dell Inspiron 7373 290
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 4 Multi-Core

Lenovo Yoga 920-13IKB 13588Dell Inspiron 7373 13306Asus Pro B9440U 7654Acer Swift 3 7204LG gram (13-inch, 2017) 7023
Note: longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Dell Inspiron 7373 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel UHD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 920-13IKB Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
HP Spectre 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-7100U; 4GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 128GB SSD
Asus Pro B9440U Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
LG gram (13-inch, 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Acer Swift 3 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
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7.8

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (2017)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 9Battery 5