Hybrid Dell is well worth its price

For its $1,599 price tag, the Dell Inspiron 13 comes with good specifications, including the latest Intel Core i7 chip and a 256GB solid-state drive.
For its $1,599 price tag, the Dell Inspiron 13 comes with good specifications, including the latest Intel Core i7 chip and a 256GB solid-state drive.PHOTO: DELL

The Dell Inspiron 13 is a laptop that can transform into a tablet. The industry calls such hybrid devices a 2-in-1, though I believe consumers are mostly using them, especially a heavier 13-inch model like the Dell, as notebooks. Even with both hands, the 1.6kg Dell gets tiring to hold after a couple of minutes.

However, the Dell can be used in two other ways by rotating its flexible hinge.

In Stand mode, the keyboard faces downwards towards the desk and the screen is close to the user, making it suitable for watching videos and playing games on the touchscreen. Tent mode brings the screen to the user and requires less space on the desk. But it is not as stable as Stand mode.

Because it can be used as a tablet, the Dell has a volume rocker and a power button at the side. Also resting inside a slot at the side is a stylus, which springs out when you press its end.

It is a passive stylus that does not have a battery or built-in electronics. Because the stylus does not communicate with the laptop, the laptop cannot differentiate between the stylus and your palm resting on the screen. In short, the stylus is terrible for tasks like taking notes as the laptop will mistake your palm for the stylus and interpret any contact between it and the screen as a pen entry.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,599


    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6500U (2.5GHz)


    GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 520


    RAM: 8GB


    SCREEN SIZE: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels


    CONNECTIVITY: HDMI, 3 x USB 3.0, SD card reader, audio jack


    BATTERY: 43 watt-hour

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5


    DESIGN: 4/5


    PERFORMANCE: 3/5


    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5


    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5


    OVERALL: 4/5

The other inputs on the Dell are more usable. Key travel on the keyboard is decent and the backlight comes with two different brightness levels.

The Dell has a Microsoft precision touchpad, which is certified to work with the built-in mouse gestures in Windows 10. For instance, the touchpad's default behaviour for a three-finger tap is to bring up the Cortana search bar. Mouse settings, such as the cursor speed, are accessed via the Windows 10 Action Centre, unlike third-party touchpads that come with their own preloaded utility.

In my experience, Microsoft precision touchpads rank among the most responsive ones you can find on Windows laptops, especially for two-finger scrolling. It is as good as touchpads on Apple MacBooks.

The display looks good with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen resolution. For its $1,599 price tag, the Dell comes with good specifications, including the latest Intel Core i7 chip and a 256GB solid-state drive.

Battery life is good, too. The Dell lasted 6hr 37 mins in our video- loop battery test.

Vincent Chang

• The Dell works best as a laptop, though its extra usage modes are handy at times. Its price is very reasonable, too.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Hybrid Dell is well worth its price'. Print Edition | Subscribe