Dell Inspiron 13 5000 review
The Dell Inspiron 13 5000 is a sign convertible laptops are now truly mainstream. Models like this and the Asus ZenBook UX360C have hints of high-end style and powerful components, matched with a practical approach that means they cost £700 rather than £1200. Laptops like this mark a bit of a renaissance for Windows laptops, once again seriously undercutting comparable Apple MacBooks, particularly now the Air series looks truly past-it. Also see: Best laptops 2016
Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals
Dell Inspiron 13 5000 review: UK price
There are three main specs for the Dell Inspiron 13 5000. The most commonly-sold is the middle variant. It costs £649- to 699, and is probably the version we’d recommend most people look into. It has an Intel Core i5, a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM.
At first glance the low-end £499 model is alluring, cutting down to a Core i3 CPU and 500GB hard drive. However, it also has a non-IPS screen. We’ve not seen it in person, but it likely uses a lower-quality panel whose viewing angles aren't well-suited to a hybrid like this.
The screen may look funny from the wrong angle, in other words.
The top-end Dell Inspiron 13 5000 we’re looking at costs £799, and upgrades the RAM to 16GB, the CPU to a Core i7. That’s several hundred pounds cheaper than you’d pay for such a spec list in a laptop with a high-end metal frame.
Dell Inspiron 13 5000 review: Design
Dell has pulled off a clever trick with the Dell Inspiron 13 5000. It has managed to create a plastic, mostly sensible-looking laptop that still has panache and the sort of lifestyle sensibility that makes MacBooks so attractive.
It has a 360-degree hinge, an ultrabook-influenced layout and little hints like curved edges around the front of the laptop that tell you this isn’t meant to just be a boring work machine. Even though among convertible laptops, it’s definitely the one with a biro in its shirt pocket.
This isn’t a case of Dell being unable to create a style laptop. Just look at the Dell XPS 13 for proof. It’s deliberate.
Dell wants to offer modern laptop sensibilities in a package much more affordable. A MacBook Pro with very similar specs to the £799 Dell Inspiron 13 5000 would cost you £1609, for example. Ouch (granted, the Core i7 CPU Apple uses is slightly higher-end).
In terms of build there are two main sacrifices for this attractive price. First, the entire shell is plastic. Laptops like this will often use aluminium for the lid of the keyboard surround for a higher-end feel, but not so here.
However, it is rigid, which is really more important. Recently we reviewed the Asus UX360C, a fairly similar device but one whose keyboard flexes far too much under moderate pressure. Not only does this make the typing experience worse, flexing can ruing the trackpad click too. The Dell’s keyboard is flex-free. See all laptop reviews.
The Dell Inspiron 13 5000 isn’t perfect, though. It has a pressure point to the bottom left of the keyboard surround that kills the trackpad click if, say, you rest your elbow on it too heavily. But it’s mostly very solid.
Its second somewhat budget-related compromise is weight. The Dell Inspiron 13 5000 weighs 1.6kg, a bit heavier than something like the Lenovo Yoga 900, which weighs just 1.3kg. It’s heavy enough that you won’t marvel at its lightness when you first pick it up, but still light enough to carry around all day with you. This is nothing like the archetype chunky Dell you may have been lumbered with at work before.
The hinge is more proof of its modern edge. Like other convertibles, it flips around to meet the back of the keyboard, and can stick at any angle. The hinge is one of the few metal parts, giving it the requisite strength.
It’s pragmatic, though. Truly design-led laptops make sure you can open the lid without holding the base in place. It’s a classy finishing touch. You’ll need to put a finger on the lower part here, because Dell’s main priority is making sure the hinge is stiff enough.
You may be familiar with these convertibles by now. The idea isn’t really to make the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 work as a tablet, at least not in the conventional sense. In its tent position or with the screen flipped so the laptop is resting on the keyboard, the touchscreen becomes the closest control method rather than the keyboard and trackpad.
It’s less an iPad-a-like tablet experience, more a touch-controlled PC.
The hinge may not revolutionise the way you use a laptop, but as the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 shows, you’re not paying an extra 50 per cent for the privilege. We’re seeing convertibles this size become accessible, where previously you’ve had to pay a lot for them.