Review of the NEWEST (Late 2016) Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1s

dell inspiron 13 7000

A week after the announcement of the newest MacBook Pros, I’ve decided to review my daily laptop, the new Dell Inpiron 2-in-1. At Computex 2016 back in June, Dell announced this laptop and I must say that they have finally caught up to the competition. Aside from welcome hardware upgrades, I was very excited about the addition of a USB-C port. So I picked one up shortly after Dell Canada put a nice $200 discount on them and here is my review after using it for a couple months!

THE GOOD

  • New USB Type-C port for power and connectivity
  • New aluminum casing is very nice, feels more premium than older versions with a more solid feel
  • New Intel Realsense cameras are fun but I haven’t found much practical use for it other than facial recognition to log in.

THE BAD

  • They stopped including a stylus in the box and a convenient storage in the casing of the laptop for the stylus
  • The trackpad is what you expect at the price point. It’s not very big and the clicking gets annoying although you can just tap

My thoughts so far…

Although I was cheesed that the laptop did not come with a stylus out of the box like the older models, I must say, it doesn’t bother me. I prefer to draw designs by hand anyway so I have used the touchscreen very little and would not miss it. If you do not need to draw on your laptop, then forget about the stylus… you don’t need it and it wouldn’t be a digitizer like the Microsoft Surface laptops anyway!

I have yet to use the new USB-C port. I think this feature was more to make it future-proof but I think USB-C still has a long way to go before it becomes the new norm. Regardless, it’s there and I’m sure it would be useful to those who need it (I also haven’t needed to buy an adapter because my laptop has an HDMI port and 2 USB3 ports unlike some other laptops previously mentioned!)

Speaking of features I haven’t used, I also haven’t used the multi-mode hinge since I bought the laptop and was playing around with it. I feel like I still use a laptop like it was used when they were first invented. The touchscreen and 2-in-1 features seem more like gimmicks to me. I just use it for writing and design on the go and I’m happy having a keyboard with a nice screen that I can carry around without breaking my back.

Now, where it counts… I have felt slight drops in performance when doing heavy design work. This laptop comes with a 6th gen Intel Core i7 6500U processor which is great. I think the drop in performance was due to the 8GB of ram. It has been rare so I don’t think the work that I do warrants an upgrade to 16GB of ram but that would be necessary for power users.

Finally, my biggest pain throughout these months was getting the screen to work well with Windows 10. I don’t know if its the laptop or the software but text just doesn’t seem crisp on the screen. This may be in part due to Windows recommending that I zoom text and apps by 150% (which I have to do because if I change it to 100% some text and UI elements get very small). There is also a new feature called ClearType which is supposed to help customize text to look more crisp to an individuals preference. I played around with it but have since turned it off because I gave up tweaking it.

Overall Recommendation

This laptop is definitely something to consider. Dell has come a long way and if you can get the laptop on sale (which happens quite often), the specs and build quality are very high for its price point and compared to what else is out there. If you want a better screen and even better build quality, I would opt to spend more and get yourself the Dell XPS 13 but this is a great cheaper alternative. Keep in mind that the hardware on these computers doesn’t quite integrate with Windows 10 as well as something like the MacBook’s internals integrate with MacOS but it is an easy compromise to save money and still have a very capable computer. Good luck on your next laptop purchase!

What to buy? New Macbook Pro vs. New Surface Book

This was an exciting week for the big two. Microsoft unveiled its new Surface Book on Wednesday, October 26th, and Apple followed suit the next day with their new Macbook Pros. This left me wanting both laptops so I have a big decision to make!

This article isn’t about all the new features of these products but I will just give a small snippet of the big differences for those of you who haven’t seen the multitude of coverage already:

Review of new technology in both systems

Late 2016 New MacBook Pros:

  • New ‘Touch Bar’ allows for dynamic control of content, settings and actions that adapts to the app you are using
  • Upgraded to Intel 6th generation processors
  • Better screen brightness and colour range
  • Dedicated graphics on 15″ (Radeon)
  • Larger trackpad and 2nd gen butterfly switched (similar to the MacBook keyboard)
  • Thinner (who knew?)
  • and of course, as they never fail to mention it is their “best MacBook ever”…

Surface Book with Performance Base:

  • As the name suggests, they added higher-performance dedicated graphics to the base (Nvidia)
  • up to 16 hrs battery life (with base attached)

As you can tell from above, Apple was more innovative in their laptops this year (rather Microsoft’s big reveal was their Microsoft Surface Studio All-in-one). However, we can’t forget that the Surface book already has some great innovation built-in!

Comparison by price and specs

So, let’s get right into it. The pricing for both of these systems are quite evenly matched but I created a price-by-price specs-based comparison. Based on that data, it would appear that the new MacBook Pros are a better bang for your buck. Now, keep in mind that a comparison of specs vs. price is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that needs to be compared here. However, note that all of the internals have received performance upgrades this year for the MacBook Pro while the Surface Book with Performance Base only received a boost in graphics performance. The MacBook Pro has 2133 MHz clock speed ram and new PCIe-based SSDs which should make a significant difference in file transfer and multitasking.

Everyone has their own unique idea of their ideal laptop and then they make compromises to save money and start valuing different features over others. At least this is how I usually end up making my decision. So, although it is a unique decision-making process for every individual, there are two categories of laptop users that I have a strong recommendation for:

Design Professional who primarily uses Adobe Creative Cloud (Adobe CC):

This user should definitely consider a Surface Book with Performance Base over the new MacBook Pros and this is not even because of the digitizer on the Surface Book series. A lot of people would recommend the Surface Book to designers because of the digitizer but a lot of pro designers already have their preferred way to draw. This recommendation is because several Adobe CC apps now support GPU acceleration to borrow processing power from the computers GPU to speed up rendering for example. AMD cards do not support this whereas Nvidia cards do! So that fancy 4GB AMD card on your new MacBook Pro 15″ for $2700 will not be helping you much!

Apple Developer:

This is something I was struggling with up until now. I have a couple ideas for iOS apps and am looking to partner with a team of other developers to make an app or two. I bought a new laptop recently (Dell Inspiron) with the intention of using VMWare Workstation to create a virtual MacOS setup and save some money since I didn’t need a laptop that costs me an arm and a leg! After a couple months, huge regrets… It’s definitely not the same which is why I will be turning to the new MacBook Pros. They have new 6th gen processors (I wish they were 7th gen…), excellent battery life, faster RAM, faster SSD storage, they look and feel beautiful, I’m not worrying too much about graphics and most of all, it will work beautifully with XCode! The new touchbar will contain your favourite tools as well for even faster coding!

Everyone Else

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, I don’t blame you! A laptop purchase decision is something that should take more research than one article but I hope this article did help shed some light. My last advice, if you are looking to save some money but still want a MacBook whether you are an Apple developer or prefer MacOS, considering getting the previous generation MacBook! When it comes to specs, the processor is merely less efficient and the RAM clock speed is slow but it is still a very capable machine. Plus, you could spend the extra money on a bigger hard drive! If you do not have a preference of OS or like Windows better, the Surface Pro 4 is a cheap and powerful alternative as well!