Dell Chromebook thirteen assessment: Chrome OS with out compromise
I’ve lengthy questioned why it was so exhausting to discover a good Chromebook. Positive, the Pixel could also be an exemplary laptop computer, nevertheless it’s close to-inconceivable to advocate that anybody spend $1,000 on a Chrome OS system. However most cheaper Chromebooks compromise your computing expertise with dangerous shows, uninspired hardware or internals that simply cannot sustain.
However there’s change within the air. Final yr, Toshiba and Samsung each launched thirteen-inch fashions that each moved the bar ahead, however additionally they every had some critical flaws. Now Dell is making an attempt its hand with its first thirteen-inch Chromebook, a comply with-as much as the profitable eleven-inch model it launched final yr. It might be marketed towards enterprise customers, however in a variety of methods this can be a Chromebook that anybody who believes within the promise of Chrome OS might love. That high quality comes at a price, although: The entry worth for Dell’s Chromebook thirteen is $429. Does this Chromebook justify that greater funding?
- Strong, engaging hardware and design
- Top-of-the-line screens you’ll find on a Chromebook
- Excellent battery life
- Nice backlit keyboard and trackpad
- Wonderful efficiency
- Chrome OS is not for everybody
- Costlier than most different Chromebooks
Dell’s Chromebook thirteen prices somewhat greater than the competitors, however for that extra cash, you get: hardware that feels prefer it’s from a way more costly machine, wonderful efficiency, incredible battery life and the most effective screens you will discover on any Chromebook. For those who’re a fan of Google’s Chrome OS, you must completely give this laptop computer a glance.
From the surface, the Chromebook thirteen follows the demure styling discovered within the Dell Chromebook eleven — there’s nary a touch of shade right here outdoors of the Chrome emblem on the lid. It won’t be probably the most progressive or engaging laptop computer on the market, nevertheless it’s useful and engaging in the identical method as a navy blazer — it’s going to by no means exit of favor. The gunmetal grey magnesium alloy chassis, carbon fiber weave on the lid and glossy black Dell emblem are all delicate and applicable for the pc’s enterprise pedigree and in addition look like extremely influenced by the nicely-designed XPS collection. It isn’t one thing any worker (or shopper) will actually have the ability to complain about.
That no-nonsense design extends to how the pc feels in your palms and in use. It is a bit of thick (zero.eighty four inch at its largest level) and a bit of heavy (three.23 kilos), nevertheless it at the very least feels robust and never cheaply constructed. In contrast to most Chromebooks, there isn’t any flex once you’re typing or carrying the system round. It is the most effective-designed Chrome OS laptops I’ve used, drawing numerous affect from the Pixel — and it ought to at this worth. It is clear that Dell is leveraging a number of its know-how from different notebooks in its lineup, and as such, this pc looks like a strong, time-examined design, not a primary model of a brand new product for the corporate.
So far as I am involved, a Chromebook (or any laptop computer, actually) has to get the keyboard, trackpad and display proper (which is why I have been so disillusioned with the horrible 1,366 x 768 panels that populate most Chromebooks). Luckily, the Dell succeeds on all counts right here. The thirteen-inch, 1080p show is a standout — whereas Dell says it is an IPS display, viewing angles aren’t fairly nearly as good as you will see on costlier computer systems. However it’s in any other case an exquisite-wanting display that lastly gives up an honest-measurement workspace on a Chromebook. Positive, 1080p could make textual content a bit tiny, however fortuitously you’ll be able to step it right down to 1,536 x 840 should you want issues to be bigger. (Oddly sufficient, this panel may also be set to a better, 2,four hundred x 1,350 decision, however I would not advocate it.) All the things’s a lot sharper at 1080p, and the small textual content usually wasn’t an issue for me. I used to be completely happy to make use of this display for hours daily throughout my testing.
The backlit keyboard is not nearly as good because the one on the Pixel, nevertheless it’s far forward of nearly each different Chromebook I’ve used, with nice journey and key caps that by no means really feel like they are going to go flying off if I sort too vigorously. Actually, it is nearly as good as a keyboard on a laptop computer that prices twice as a lot. The trackpad can also be a pleasure: It is extremely responsive and helps multitouch gestures. Once more, it simply felt like a element from a costlier pc. I want it have been a bit greater, however that is the one knock I’ve.
One shocking factor concerning the Chromebook thirteen’s hardware is its strong audio output. Positive, you are still listening to music on a laptop computer, however my informal testing revealed a pc that had strong audio system. It is inferior to the Skullcandy setup on Toshiba’s Chromebook 2, however it’s higher than I anticipated and positively ok for music or video playback in a pinch. Listening to music over headphones sounded equally clear, with no distortion and clear playback at each excessive and low volumes.
As for ports, the Chromebook thirteen provides you the necessities, however not a lot else; listed here are two USB ports (one 2.zero and one three.zero), an HDMI connection, a headphone jack and a microSD slot. The latter might be my largest difficulty with the laptop computer’s hardware: This pc feels large enough that having a full-sized SD slot on board should not have been an issue. Not having one means you will doubtless want a cable or adapter to get photographs off a digital digital camera, which is a bummer. There’s additionally a 720p digital camera for video calls that does its job, however is in any other case unspectacular.Efficiency and battery life
Dell is providing all kinds of hardware configurations for its Chromebook thirteen. The $429 base mannequin presently on the market (which I examined) includes a Celeron 3205U processor together with 4GB of RAM, a 16GB strong-state drive and that 1080p non-contact show. (There’s additionally a $399 mannequin with solely 2GB of RAM; it isn’t on sale but and we don’t advocate shopping for any pc with that little reminiscence.) You possibly can bump the processor as much as a Core i3 or i5, improve storage to 32GB, jam in 8GB of RAM or get a mannequin with a touchscreen. However for many clients, the low-finish mannequin will in all probability be sufficient for his or her wants — Dell’s base thirteen-inch Chromebook is a strong performer that outdoes nearly all its competitors.
Intel’s newer Celeron 3205U processor seems to be an enormous step up over the N2840 mannequin utilized in final yr’s Toshiba Chromebook 2, though it isn’t as huge a step up over the Celeron 2955U chip used within the Acer C720 and Dell’s personal eleven-inch mannequin. However the one Chromebook we have examined that definitively outperforms Dell’s new mannequin is the Pixel. It wasn’t simply in these benchmarks, both — the Chromebook thirteen not often slowed down in any respect, regardless of what number of tabs I had open. I might sometimes have situations of Tweetdeck, Slack, Simplenote and Google Play Music or Spotify operating alongside a minimum of two extra Chrome home windows filled with tabs and issues ran easily almost on a regular basis. If I actually pushed the variety of tabs, I might trigger music playback to start out stuttering a bit, however in my regular utilization situations, the Chromebook thirteen ran admirably.
That excellence prolonged to the battery life. If I introduced this pc absolutely charged to the workplace and forgot the facility cable, I might not even break a sweat. As I write this evaluation, the Chromebook thirteen has been off the charger for over seven hours — and the pc nonetheless has 33 % of its battery life left. That is merely wonderful, and outcomes when operating our battery check (looping HD video playback with display brightness set to sixty five %) have been equally robust. Dell’s Chromebook thirteen lasted 10 hours and 25 minutes throughout our check. This laptop computer additionally expenses notably quick — plugging it in utterly lifeless for half-hour acquired me as much as 35 %, which is sweet for over three hours of labor based on the battery life indicator. And it solely took about ninety minutes to cost it utterly.
In fact, none of this issues if you cannot stay your computing life in Chrome OS. If you have not checked it out these days, it is a way more mature OS than it was a pair years in the past. Virtually each a part of my every day workflow features completely nicely in Chrome. Slack, Tweetdeck, Simplenote, Dropbox and Wunderlist all run in addition to browser tabs as they do on my Mac; Spotify’s net participant has improved lots during the last yr; and, clearly, all Google apps and providers work like a appeal. With increasingly more software program shifting on-line, the case towards a Chromebook is more durable to make nowadays. Even the Workplace paperwork I’ve saved in my Dropbox are straightforward sufficient to edit: I can entry them by way of the Dropbox net interface, open them in Workplace On-line with one click on, make my edits, save them and exit proper again to Dropbox. It is a surprisingly environment friendly workflow that makes having a full Workplace set up principally pointless for me.
Sure, there’ll all the time be individuals who want extra full desktop-class apps, however almost every little thing appears to be shifting on-line proper now — even Photoshop will work on Chromebooks quickly sufficient. It is best to nonetheless rigorously contemplate what you want your pc to do earlier than shopping for a Chrome system, however I am discovering increasingly more apps yearly that permit me accomplish almost every part I need to do with a Chromebook. Photograph modifying does stay an enormous drawback — Google Photographs is an excellent place to again up, view, share and make minor tweaks to your footage, one thing that’ll be sufficient for most individuals. However when it got here time to course of the pictures for this evaluation, I went proper again to my Mac. Ultimately, I am positive this difficulty shall be solved, however we’re not there fairly but.The competitors
At $429, Dell’s Chromebook thirteen is in a category of its personal. As I’ve talked about, most different Chromebooks on the market cannot actually compete on match and end, show high quality, general hardware or efficiency. There is one that may: Toshiba’s latest Chromebook 2. Toshiba simply up to date the laptop computer with a more moderen Celeron CPU — and it is promoting for a full $one hundred much less. And if you’d like extra energy, you’ll be able to improve it to a Core i3 processor for a similar $429 as Dell’s Celeron mannequin goes for. We’ve not examined it but, so the query of battery life stays; the unique Toshiba Chromebook 2 lagged behind numerous the competitors in that division. The Dell mannequin additionally seems like a extra strong piece of hardware, though Toshiba’s display might be the higher of the 2. I am a fan of the good keyboard and insane battery lifetime of the Dell, however your mileage might differ.Wrap-up
It is a good time to be out there for a Chromebook. That is as a result of laptops like Dell’s latest mannequin go a great distance towards dispelling the notion that Chromebooks are low cost, compromised machines that do not have the hardware or software program to chop it as your most important pc. Chrome OS will doubtless all the time lack some options or purposes that Home windows or Mac choices supply — however for lots of people, dwelling life within the browser is turning into increasingly viable day by day.
Till just lately, discovering good Chrome OS hardware has been as exhausting (or more durable) than discovering a very good net-based mostly workflow — however Dell’s Chromebook thirteen raises the bar on how good a comparatively cheap pc might be. Sure, it prices greater than most different choices on the market, however you get quite a bit in your cash. In case you’re on a decent finances, Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 might be a greater choice, however for my cash, the Dell is the perfect Chromebook I’ve used. There’s simply no compromise to talk of right here, and as such it is a simple laptop computer to advocate to anybody who may need to make a Chromebook their essential pc. Which will have been a loopy concept just some years in the past, however it’s not anymore.
- Key specs
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- Sort Midsize
- Display measurement thirteen.three inches
- Display decision 1920 x 1080
- Bundled OS Linux (Chrome OS)
- CPU household Celeron
- System RAM 2 GB
- Most battery life As much as 12 hours
- Launched 2015-09-17