With the market loaded with low-spec hybrids and high-end monster laptops, it’s hard to find a laptop powerful enough for everyday use that doesn’t cost the earth. However, this Dell Inspiron manages both. It’s small, comfortable to use and has plenty of processing power and storage, with the bonus of having a touchscreen.

With an aluminium upper body and matching gunmetal plastic lower body, it wouldn’t look out of place at home, in the office or at school. When closed it’s held shut by strong magnets in front of the touchpad, though I found it awkward to open.

It’s a fold-back hybrid laptop, which means you can fold the keyboard back against the screen and use it as a tablet. I preferred it in laptop mode, it was stable and easy to use, but bounced around a bit on my lap. For extra grip, it has two anti-slip strips on the bottom. However, as a tablet it leaves a bit to be desired. It’s large and heavy and the weight isn’t evenly distributed — making it uncomfortable to use for long periods.

Its HD touchscreen runs almost all the way to the edge of the case, maximising space. I had no trouble with the brightness both inside and outside and the touchscreen was responsive and easy to use. But a downside was I could also see what was behind me as the screen was noticeably reflective.

The keyboard is well spaced and easy to use; but the real surprise came from the touchpad. It uses “Precision” technology meaning it can respond to gestures (for example, a two-finger touch acts like a right mouse-button click while touching with three opens Microsoft’s voice recognition assistant Cortana). This sped up my productivity — another win for laptop mode.

Its processor — a dual-core i5 — surprised me with its power. It easily streamed music while I flipped through 10 open browser tabs. The only giveaway of the strain was the cooling fan coming on briefly.

Sound quality was good, but a bit muffled. After some head-scratching I discovered the speakers are underneath the main body of the laptop. While they were near the edges, the sound would bounce off or be absorbed by the surface the laptop was sitting on.

Verdict

This is a good all-round laptop with long battery life, a comfortable keyboard and plenty of time-saving features. If you don’t need the highest specs, but want more than a basic web-surfing laptop, then the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 is worth looking at.

Essential specs

Cost: $1539 (JB Hi-Fi), $1299 (dell.co.nz)
Screen: 13-inch 1920 x 1080 LED touchscreen
Memory: 8GB RAM
Storage space: 256GB SSD
Video card: Intel HD Graphics 620
Operating system: Windows 10
Video type: Intel HD 620
Weight: 1.62kg
Dimensions: 20 x 325 x 224mm
WiFi: Dual band 802.11ac

First Looks are written from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. Our writer received this First Look product on loan.


By Erin Bennett
Technical Writer