Chromebooks are traditionally either dirt cheap or super expensive. But Dell has decided to do something a little bit different with its new Chromebook which we saw during Showstoppers' IFA 2018 event. Indeed, the most interesting thing about it is where it will sit against other laptops and the threat it poses to various Windows laptops.
That’s because Dell has placed it against ‘everyday’ Windows laptops at £464/$599. We'd hope it would come in at £399, but it's likely to be £499 (we don't yet have a confirmed UK price, £464 is just a conversion). We do have a UK release date of October, though.
As a self-styled "premium Chromebook" it’s also more expensive than most other Chromebooks which tend to be under £300. And it’s significantly cheaper than Google’s own outrageous £999/$999 Chromebook Pixel. (Seen one of those in the wild? Do let us know because we haven’t).
Design and display
- 14-inch 1,920x1,080 Full HD IPS touchscreen
- Intel HD Graphics 620
- 1.8 kg
- Stylus included
Thanks to advances in quality across the board around this price point, the Chromebook's design is in line with other Inspiron laptops. It's also a hybrid, too, so the screen not only folds flat but also back on itself thanks to large hinges that we've seen across Dell's range. The display is a 14-inch Full HD touchscreen powered by Intel's HD 620 graphics.
It's a touchscreen and, yes, it does look rather nice, although somewhat obviously it's not as good as Dell's higher pixel count displays such as the Infinity Displays further up Dell's laptop range. It's quite reflective, but we don't see that as being too much of a problem. They always look worse under show lights.
There's a new colour for the Chromebook - urban grey - which is quite smart. It is a little MacBook Pro-like, but light grey land seems to have been reserved for Microsoft's Surface models these days.
The bezels are relatively small, but they're hardly on the same level as the thin surrounds around the Dell XPS 13 and 15. The webcam is in the top bezel though, which is a relief after Dell's recent penchant to put it between the keyboard and screen.
The laptop isn't the lightest - 1.8kg - and while that's OK for a portable, it is a drawback. We tend to think you'll notice anything over 1.5kg inside a bag. Oh, and there's a stylus that slots in beneath the chassis. That's pretty handy and adds to the value somewhat when you consider that something like the £380 Surface Go works better with the Surface Pen that will set you back around £90.
Hardware and battery life
- Intel Core i3-8130U dual-core processor
- 4GB memory
- 128GB storage (max)
- 2x USB-C, 1x USB Type-A, microSD card slot, headphone/mic
- 802.11ac (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi
You get a 128GB flash drive for storage - a real upgrade on many Chromebooks' 32 or 64GB drives. Internals elsewhere are entry-level laptop fodder, with an early 2018 Core i3-8130U processor and 4GB of RAM. That should provide enough oomph for all but more resource-intensive video and photo tasks.
Dell is promising around 15 hours of life from the 56Whr battery which does seem a little on the high side to us, but the proof will be when we properly test it, of course.
Connectivity is pretty impressive, with dual USB-C ports in addition to the old-school USB-A and microSD. We always love microSD in laptops because we take so many pics using cameras but, of course, for many consumers this is no longer a reality. And we do like the keyboard - it's standard Inspiron fare, but it's comfortable and there's a sizeable trackpad.
Dell's new Chromebook brings a bit of quality to the Chromebook market that - unless you've been wanting to spend £999 - has been sadly lacking. The 2-in-1 aspect only adds to the appeal, primarily because of the ability to use the laptop to watch videos in so-callled tent mode.
The Core i3 processor boasts enough power for the huge majority of tasks, too. It's only at for semi-pro and pro photo and video editing that it will be found lacking. Gaming, too, isn't really what a Chromebook is designed for.
If you want Chrome OS, it's hard to think of something that's better value. Opting for a cheaper Chromebook could be more appealing but in the end it could prove disappointing as you do more on your Chromebook.
Liked this? Check out our guide to the current best Chromebooks