There's something to be said for laptops that you can just bang on all day. A body that doesn't flex under any circumstances. Keys that take whatever your index fingers can dish out, one stroke at a time. And a trackpad that, you know, works.
That, in just a few short sentences, is the mid-range mule that is the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 series 2-in-one.
It's good enough
Bottom line: There's nothing overly flashing about this laptop. The keyboard and trackpad are solid, though. It's got most of the ports you could want. And a price tag that doesn't break the bank.
- Great keyboard and trackpad
- A trio of USB ports (2x USB 3.0)
- Top end isn't pricey
- The lid is a waggly mess
- Unless you flip it over into tablet mode
- And then you have a really thick tablet
What you'll love about the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 series
Not everything needs to be the lightest or the thinnest or the most powerful or the most beautifully designed. And that's good, because the Dell Inspiron 5000 series definitely isn't any of that. What it is, however, is a mid-range Windows 10 two-in-one that does a lot of things pretty well — and comes in under $1,000. Well under $1,000.
- Form factor: Two-in-one convertible.
- Display: 13.3-inch FHD touch (1080x1920) IPS LED.
- Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U.
- RAM: 8GB.
- Storage: 256GB SSD.
- Battery: 42 Whr.
- Size: 12.76 x 8.85 x 0.77-0.80 inches (324 x 225 x 19.5-22 mm).
- Weight: 3.56 pounds (1.61 kilograms).
Dell has a smattering of configurations and price points, from the Pentium-powered low end at $579, to the other end with a Core i5 processor and SSD for storage. That high end is what we're testing here, and it weighs in at a $779 list price. (More on Dell's pricing scheme in a minute.)
None of the Inspiron 13's specs will knock your socks off. It's all decidedly middle-of-the-road stuff, even with the top-end model we tested. The touch display is 1080p. The Core i5 processor is fine, and the 8GB of RAM will do OK. But you'll also find it chugging along on basic system tasks.
Here's how the whole range breaks down:
|Processor||Intel Pentium 4415U||Core i3||Core i5||Core i5|
|Storage||1TB HDD (5400rpm)||1TB HDD (5400rpm)||1TB HDD (5400rpm)||256GB SSD|
|Display||FHD touch IPS||FHD touch IPS||FHD touch IPS||FHD touch IPS|
|Graphics||Intel HD 610||Intel HD 610||Intel UHD 620||Intel UHD 620|
A note here: Dell lists the "market price" but then tacks on a discount. The bottom two models then land at $499 each — which means you should ignore the lowest model altogether. The upper two hit at $679 and $729.
Where this convertible really stands out is in the body. Particularly when the lid is open. The chassis's finish (plastic?!?!) in "Era Gray" looks premium and feels nearly as solid as a $2,000 MacBook. (Close enough for most folks, anyway.) It's seriously impressive. The backlit keys take a pounding. I'd prefer just a touch more travel, but that's a definite nit-pick. The trackpad has just enough drag to it so that you don't lose control.
Though, this is the sort of thing you know you can do basic work on without little things getting in the way. No flex in the space between keys. No annoying hiccups in the mouse pointer. (And you can always stab away at the screen if that's how you roll.)
What you'll loathe about the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 series
This thing's thick. And not light. That's not so bad when you're using it as a laptop. (Except that there's a ton of waggle in the display lid, but that's fortunately not too noticeable when you're typing — just when the whole thing moves.) But flip the display around, and you've got a large, heavy Windows tablet that I certainly wouldn't want to lug around for very long.
Again, the internals of the 5000 series — even at the high end — aren't exactly impressive. Nothing about this says "speedster." You should understand that if you buy it, but it bears repeating here.
The speakers are on the tinny side, but definitely usable. Just not great. And while you get a good number of ports — three USB (two of which are USB 3.0), HDMI and an SD card, there's no USB-C for a little future-proofing. There's also no fingerprint reader, but the camera does handle Windows Hello just fine.
Bottom line on the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 series
If I were in the business of handing out laptops to people who type for a living, I'd give this one some serious consideration. It works well, and ticks of a lot of the boxes you want in something that just works.
It's not fancy. It's not trying to be fancy. And it's not exactly svelte.
It will, however, keep you from totally emptying your wallet.