February 25, 2015 1 Comment
So in my last few posts, I’ve reviewed things like the Microsoft Band, the HP Stream 11 and, of course, my initial feelings about the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. While many of my reviews have been somewhat critical of Microsoft and their direction, I hope you’ve seen that, in my heart, I really do want Microsoft to succeed. Being a long-time Windows guy, I just can’t fathom a world without Microsoft.
I’m happy to say that with some recent changes, especially from the top down, that Microsoft really seems to be making a comeback. And this is what prefaces this review of the Dell Inspiron 13 7347.
First off, some specifications:
CPU: Intel i5 1.7GHz native
RAM: 8GB DDR3 memory
HDD: 500GB 5400 RPM drive
DISPLAY: 13.3 in. IPS display at 1920 x 1080 resolution
SLOTS: HDMI 2560, 3 USB (2 – 3.0, 1 – 2.0), SD MMC, Security
OS: Runs Windows 8.1 out-of-the-box, more on this later
BATTERY: 43WHr, 3-cell battery with 5 hours of battery life
DIMENSIONS: .75” (19.41mm) x 12.99” (330.12mm) x 8.74” (222mm), 3.68 lbs
MISCELLANEOUS: Passive stylus
PRICE: $699.00 from Costco – the 11″ version is available for $499.00
With that out of the way, here are some of my original stream-of-consciousness notes: The keyboard is great; Overall feel of this is awesome – almost a rubber feel to it, easy to hold, the perfect texture; however, it is a big bit when using as a tablet; Screen is a little on the dark side, but the resolution is fantastic; Great deal when compared to the Surface, though the Surface has a better profile and is lighter; Wi-fi works perfectly and better than both the Surface and MacBook Pro, which have had issues.
My initial reason for getting this laptop was for my kids. As I’ve documented in the past, I’ve wanted a device that was cost effective but that offered a high degree of flexibility and power for my kids. The HP Stream 11 was great as it’s really inexpensive and is a great media device for the kids, perfect for YouTube, Netflix, etc. when their outside, when they go to friends’ houses, etc. However, it lacks a certain amount of power for some of the things they’re starting to get into now, like editing movies and doing some more involved graphics. That’s where this Dell comes in.
As a convertible — yes, the Dell Inspiron 13 7347 converts from laptop to tablet just like the Lenovo Yoga — this “laptop” can replace the HP for my kids without too much concern on my part. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I *did* make some modifications to this after I got it. I do have to say, however, that these changes were extremely easy to make and really make a great machine even better.
First, I replaced 5400 RPM hard drive with a SSD. Then, instead of running Windows 8.1, I put the latest Tech Preview of Windows 10 on it after the hardware upgrades. All-in-all, a painless process that really made a lot of difference. It appears that making hardware changes to this laptop — hard drive, battery, RAM, wi-fi card, etc. — are REALLY simple. That said, the laptop is great right from the box. I only modified it to a) see how easy it was and b) well…because I could.
Regarding this being a “convertible” laptop, I’ve used the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface Pro 3, which are marketed as half laptop, half tablet. The Dell is primarily a laptop with the ability to convert to a tablet. I see this as a much better combination as the Dell has the benefits of a true keyboard but with the ability to change to a full touchscreen tablet. I think people in general will see this as well as they need all the functionality of a laptop but want the portability and usefulness of a tablet. You get that, and much more.
To put the finishing touch on this review, let’s talk displays. I may be the odd man out, but higher resolution displays are not all that important to me. This is partly due to how poorly Windows deals with DPI scaling and some other things. The Surface Pro 3 at 2160 x 1440 is just a bit too small for me, though the display is better overall, but the 1920 x 1080 on the IPS display of the Dell is pretty good. Angles are great but brightness and whites seem a bit dark and sometimes show a hint of yellow. Regardless, they’re minor inconveniences and I think I only noticed them because I was specifically looking for problems.
Overall, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a great, reasonably priced convertible laptop, offering the functionality of a laptop with the convenience of a tablet. Had Dell put a slightly better HD graphics card in this, I dare say I’d consider it a perfect device.
Now, I can’t end this without some commentary on Windows 10. I’ve been running it for awhile across a number of different devices, and I have to say I’m impressed. Microsoft seems to be taking the right approach to Windows 10. My perception is that they’re stepping away from building a “tablet only” interface that works on a desktop and, instead, making a “better” desktop OS that also works well on a tablet. In my opinion, THAT’S the way to go, and Microsoft is making commendable headway. I see Windows 10 becoming quite a formidable platform.