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Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (7386) Preview

When we last reviewed it in March, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 convertible laptop managed just 4 hours and 34 hours on our battery life test. That’s a poor result for a laptop meant to be used off the plug, whose screen rotates 360 degrees to let you occasionally use it as a tablet. A new version, unveiled in Berlin at the 2018 IFA electronics trade show, has some unique improvements up its sleeve, but it retains the same relatively small battery that its predecessor uses. We weren’t able to test battery life during our brief hands-on time with the new model, which goes on sale on Oct. 2 for $879 and up. But we hope that Dell has made some improvements behind the scenes to bring the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1’s endurance up to the eight hours or more that we expect from a midrange 2-in-1 convertible laptop.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (Two Colors)

Key Physical Improvements

The premium 2-in-1 convertible market is crowded. Dell’s flagship contender is the XPS 13 2-in-1, which competes against the likes of the Lenovo Yoga 920, the HP Spectre x360, and the Asus ZenBook Flip. The Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 lives one rung down the ladder in Dell’s product hierarchy, where it goes head-to-head with the Lenovo Yoga 730.

At a new starting price of $879, the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 bridges the gap between Dell’s XPS flagship and under-$500 options such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 11. Thanks to their 360-degree hinges, all of these models have something that sets them apart from the sea of under-$1,000 conventional laptops, so manufacturers have to be creative when it comes to adding features to new models. Dell often pushes out iterative updates—sometimes more than once a year—with little of the upgrades being truly substantial. But that’s not what it did this time.

Based on the brief time we spent with it, the new Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 looks radically different from the staid model it replaces. The most obvious physical difference is the keyboard deck, an etched, angular piece of metal that slopes up slightly to meet the touchpad and palm rest in the middle of the chassis. The XPS lineup inspired the new design in a trickle-down fashion, according to a Dell spokesperson. The overall effect on the new model is much sharper than the old deck, which was a simple piece of silver aluminum.

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

Another key physical improvement is a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader. If you’re used to waking up your phone and unlocking it with a single press, you’ll likely appreciate this feature. It, too, trickled down from the XPS 13, and similar fingerprint-reader/power-button combos are available on competing designs like the Apple MacBook Pro.

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

Same Display Options

Much of the rest of the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is staying the same, especially when it comes to the 13.3-inch full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) display on the base model. The bezels (or borders) around the screen are thin, but not vanishingly so like the ones you’ll find on the Dell XPS 13. That means there’s still enough room to situate the webcam conventionally, above the center of the screen, rather than in the awkward position below it that the XPS 13 uses, which results in Skype sessions full of your fingernails and nostrils.

Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising constant between the new Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 and the old is the battery capacity. Both use a three-cell, 38WHr battery, which is concerning, given the previous version’s short life on our battery test, as well as the fact that the 15-inch version of the Inspiron 7000 offers a choice between a three-cell, 42WHr battery and a four-cell, 56WHr one. It’s possible that a new processor will make the new laptop much more efficient (the base option is Intel’s Core i5-8265U, up from the old Core i5-8250U), but we’ll have to wait until a review unit arrives in PC Labs to know for sure. (Dell’s own battery testing wasn’t complete at press time.)

Regardless of how efficient the processor is, or how big the battery is, you’ll almost certainly get less unplugged time if you opt to upgrade the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1’s display to a 4K Ultra HD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) panel. Based on the glances at the bright, vivid 1080p base model I got during my demo, you should probably stick with that version as the sweet spot for everyday use.

There are two exceptions. If you’ve you’ve amassed a large collection of 4K movies and TV shows that you watch frequently when you travel, you’ll want the 4K display. You’ll also want it if you’re eyeing the new Abyss Black color option, which is only available with the 4K display. (The base model is Platinum Silver.) It certainly makes for a sleek-looking laptop, especially in combination with the new etched keyboard deck. The Pink Champagne option from the previous model has been discontinued.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (Abyss Black)

Will the Battery Last?

Because shoppers seeking a rotating-convertible laptop have so many options, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 will need to have no major flaws for us to give it a top recommendation. This year’s redesign certainly looks like a move in the right direction, bringing useful and innovative features that first debuted on the more expensive XPS models. But we’ll have to wait until we’re able to test it fully to determine whether battery life is also improved. Stay tuned.

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