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9 Months On – The Dell Chromebook 13 Review – Strengths and Weaknesses

Ahmad Imran

I believe in educating and empowering my readers to make better decisions. REASONTOUSE platform is designed to provide you passionate, honest and real-life feedback around personal technology with a view to improve your user experience.

Last updated on 28th of January 2017.

I paid £460 for my Dell Chromebook 13.

It was the Core i3 version which I bought from Amazon UK in April 2016. It was more than what I initially wanted to pay for a Chromebook.

As a die-hard chrome-fan, I convinced myself to buy, use and analyse this Chromebook and see if the premium price tag is justified or not.

9 months on.

Dell Chromebook 13 has been my daily driver over this period and I am a well-satisfied customer. Yes, there are a few niggles as well which I will cover later in this review.

If you are in the market to research for your next Chromebook or are just curious to know more about this Chromebook, you have landed on the right page. Be ready for my verdict and I will explain the strengths and weaknesses (niggles) of the Dell Chromebook 13 from an average consumer perspective.

At the end of this review, you should know more about this Chromebook and how it performed and felt in a day to day scenario.

Let us start with the strengths first.

 

 

A Solid Performer

The model I own and use is the Dell Chromebook 13 – 7310 – released in late 2015.

It comes with the 5th generation Intel Core i3 5005U 2GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 16GB Solid State Drive (SSD) and a 13 inch full-HD non-touch screen.

Enough of the specs.

On paper and for a Chromebook, these are solid hardware specs for a late 2015/2016 Chromebook.

And it feels fast, responsive and smart as well.

I have been using it continuously for over 9 months and never found it to be slow, sluggish, jerky or feeling lethargic. As a common user, I regularly work with 4 to 6 tabs opened in my Chrome browser and never felt that the Chromebook can not cope up with the load. In fact, sometimes, the number of tabs are up to 10 but it still handles them well. The videos from YouTube etc. ran smoothly without any stutter or framing.

“This is precisely something fundamental which I expect from my Dell 13 Chromebook – the agility and speed.”

Dell Chromebook 13 has given me the fastest browsing and general-computing experience without a shadow of doubt.

I have been running this WordPress website completely from my Chromebook for months now. Absolutely no issues at all. The speed and performance are no doubt, the strengths of this machine.

For bloggers and writers, I always recommend a Chromebook. If you are not sure why you should jump on one, read my 10 reasons outlining the strengths of a Chromebook.

 

No-Nonsense, Attractive and Practical Design

 

I wrote about its design, feel and look in detail a few months back.

I still stand by my verdict – it is an excellent design which is beautiful, decent and most importantly practical and pleasing to use.

Let us break it down further into a few key considerations.

 

Carbon Fiber Lid

 

Yes, it is not shiny metal like recent Acer 14 or HP 13 models, but the Carbon Fiber top in my opinion looks beautiful. It lacks the metal effect but it has its own touch of class. The dark tone, weaved pattern, smooth finish and soft touch make it impressive. It can attract minor fingerprint marks but something that never bothered me at all.

The important factor is that the lid did not receive any nicks, marks, scuffs or scratches at all in these 4 months. It still looks shiny as new. The Chromebook has been in my car, kitchen, garden and lots of other places like my loyal companion. I was expecting a few minor wear and tear marks on the lid after 9 months of use but was pleasantly surprised that there were none.

So a well chosen material that is robust and durable. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Carbon Fibers.

 

Keyboard and Trackpad

 

 

Dell Chromebook 13 comes with an excellent keyboard and glass trackpad.

It is the best keyboard that I have experienced on a laptop to date (January 2017).

I am a blogger and write a lot. I can tell a difference between a good and a bad keyboard after I write on them for over ten minutes.

The Dell’s back-lit keyboard keys are well-spaced and proportionately-sized. On a 13.3 inch machine, my fingers manage the size and distribution of the keys well.

The touch and travel of the keys are responsive and feel right and pleasing to type on. Something which is an important factor for many of us because we type a lot on our Chromebooks.

The nice and wide glass-made precision trackpad is another beauty to enjoy.

It is extremely responsive and smooth to touch. The click (travel) is well designed and feels the right pressure to perform a click. The accuracy is top-class. You can tell the difference if you are coming from a trackpad which is made of plastic.

After 9 months of use, I can confirm that both the keyboard keys and trackpad are still like new. There is no signs of “give” or any other design inconsistency that I have found in these elements as a result of my day to day use.

 

Long Battery Life

Dell claims to have 12 hours of battery life on these machines based on MobileMark 2014 model of testing.

All models in this range come with 67WH 6-cell battery as standard.

I will be honest with you that I am not a benchmark-geek. I took the 12-hour estimate as a guideline and used my machine as a normal user. Without having my timer or stop-watch to check the actual timings.

After months of using this Chromebook, all I can say is that the battery life is excellent. It is not 4 hours, not 6 hours and not 8 hours either. It is more than that.

How much exactly, is a difficult one to gauge. Let us call it as between 8 to 10 hours with a normal use. Plenty of battery for me personally. I am well happy.

You won’t be disappointed.

Remember, everyone’s use and style are different. You can only get a decent approximation at best for a battery life review.

 

Dell Chromebook 13 Display Quality

I have used 3 Chromebooks with 1366×768 resolution before my present full-HD screen. One never feels the difference until you compare it to a different resolution.

Dell Chromebook 13 is my first Chromebook with a full-HD, IPS panel with 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution. The screen finish is matt. The diagonal size of the screen is 13.3 inches.

The touch-screen version (not the one that I have) comes with optional scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass NBT touch-display.

Generally, the brightness is ample, the picture and text quality are brilliant and sharpness/vividness are to acceptable levels. Yes, it is not Retina but it is more than enough for a common user like me.

Let us take a user opinion from Scott who kindly gave us his views on the screen quality. He is using the Core i5 touch-screen version.

 

Screen quality is on par with the Toshiba II Chromebook 2015 and the newer HP13 Chromebook. It’s one of the brightest screens available on a Chromebook just below the Toshiba II, HP 13, and of course the Pixel II. The color accuracy or “gamut” is one of the highest currently available on a Chromebook, again slightly lower than the Toshiba II, HP 13, and Pixel II.

It is a 1080p IPS with quite good off axis viewing and only barely noticeable “light bleed” on black scenes along the bottom right corner of the display. As far as I can tell the touch version is the same panel as the non touch, but with the Gorilla glass/capacitive touch panel. As with most panels, the glossy screen provides a slightly brighter and more vivid color with the caveat of some reflectiveness in bright ambient lighting.

Scott (via comments)

 

My whole perception of the images that I see on my laptop has changed.

It does make a difference to watch an image or a video on a full-HD screen (1080p) as compared to the HD screen (720p).

In essence, I liked the screen and display quality of the Dell Chromebook 13 a lot. It is the best screen that I have experienced in a Chromebook to date (January 2017). There is one minor niggle about the screen which I will cover in the next section.

 

A Few Niggles As Well

Frankly speaking there are only a few minor niggles but it is worth highlighting them all here for completeness. I want you to have a full picture.

 

Dell Chromebook 13 is Pricey

Dell 13 sits between the top-of-the-range Pixel 2 / Pixel LS and the more-average-range. It is labelled as business class and after using it for a few months, it does offer premium Chromebook experience.

I was hesitant to pay extra for mine at the time of buying but now that I have used it and enjoyed it for a few months, I don’t regret my decision. In fact, I am happy and recommend it to you too. You get what you pay for.

If price is a significant consideration for you, I would suggest you to consider Acer 14 full-metal design Chromebook.

 

Content Looks Too Small on 13.3″ Full-HD Screen

I agree, the text and objects will look small and difficult to read at first with a full-HD (1080p) resolution on a 13.3 inch display size. If you go to your browser settings and make some changes to your “web content” section, this issue is mostly resolved.

 

 

In my case, I increased the font size to “large” and page zoom to “125%” and these settings will be semi-permanently applied to the browsing on your Chromebook.

While the actual content of the page is now sorted, the icons and text in the menu bar of the browser are still touch-small for me. Personally, I have got used to these now and don’t feel this as an issue any more.

 

The Screen Doesn’t Fall Back Enough

The hinge connecting the screen to the bottom part is sturdy and works well. However, it does not fall back enough (towards 180 degrees like an open book). Occasionally, I wanted to push the lid further back but couldn’t do it because it doesn’t allow me to.

 

Rubber Strips at the Bottom Peel Off

 

The rubber pads (2 long strips) at the bottom started coming off from the sides. The adhesive is not strong enough to hold them securely. I had to put a small blob of epoxy underneath to keep the sides stuck to the metal chassis. A minor issue but worth identifying.

 

Dell Chromebook 13 – The User Experience Verdict

So here we are.

A solid performer, sturdily-built and decently-designed.

Dell Chromebook 13 is a no-fluff business class Chromebook which will easily satisfy most of the average consumers like you and me. It is fast, responsive and reliable.

If you are in the market looking for your next Chromebook, Dell Chromebook 13 (although released in late 2015) should be high in your list of options.

If you want to spend a similar amount of money but with a bit more flare in design, it is worth considering recently announced HP 13, ASUS C302 Flip or Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro.

“It will get my 8.5 out of 10 for overall user experience in average working conditions – feels extremely good.”

Robby Payne of Chrome Unboxed has carried out a 14-minute video review of this Chromebook. Have a look if you have a few minutes spare. I am sure his experience and feedback will help to firm up your views.

 

Are you thinking about buying a Dell Chromebook 13 or have already used one, share your thoughts and opinions with us.

Let me know if it is worth considering as a personal Chromebook for a common user and chrome-lover?

 

2017-01-28T20:27:38+00:00 August 29th, 2016|Categories: Chromebooks, Computer|Tags: , , |
  • Sandheep Rajendran

    had the exact same problem with my Chromebook 13. The rubber feet peels of. I’m going to try and glue it back.

  • Sandheep, my glued pads are working perfectly for over a month now. Just make sure to use a good quality glue – small blob but strong enough :)) Cheers for confirming that you had the same issue.

  • Sandheep Rajendran

    Thanks. going to use some Loctite 495. Will let you know how it goes. Had mine for about 8 months now. Problem only started a month or two ago.

  • Sandheep, thanks. If you don’t mind, give us your satisfaction factor (1 low to 10 high) from your overall use and experience?

    It will help the potential buyers to understand what the real-users think of the device. Thanks in advance.

  • scott

    I have the i5 touch Dell 13, and it is a beast… expensive but not excessive. Well designed and assembled, I can service battery, wifi card, ssd, keyboard track pad, and screen should that need to be done.
    One thing regarding the screen, color gamut runs around 97% SRGB and 300 nits with the Gorilla Glass.
    And yep, the rubber strips on the bottom are a peculiarirty considering it’s fantastic build overall.

  • Sandheep Rajendran

    I have the i5 Non touch version with 8 Gigs of RAM and I love it. Easily a 9 out of 10, would have been a 10 without the niggles you mentioned. The screen res really doesn’t bother me much. Great build quality, Best battery life I have received ever! I once went on a 2 day trip and forgot my charger and made it through the trip just fine. I never had to worry about it. Cant wait till I get Android apps on it.

  • Sandheep, much appreciated your views. Keep visiting and keep giving us your views on and off. Thanks

  • Scott, thanks a lot, i5 touch is the posh one :)), I wish I had the same machine. As you know the technicalities, give us your views on the screen quality.

    Is it a decent screen (colours/brightness wise) for a 1080p resolution? (your technical terms are beyond my level of understanding).

    Do you know if it is the TN or IPS type panel?

    Thanks again for stopping by. Much apprecaited.

  • John Billot

    Thanks for the excellent review Ahmed. I’ve had my current HP 14 now for 3 years and am travelling to see my daughter in the USA next month. I am looking to buy a new CB whilst there. Currently the choice seems to be between the Toshiba 2 (2015) and the Dell 13. Your usual well-drafted review will help. Regards John

  • John, thanks for your kind words, I remember you gave us your feedback on the “Chromebook Limitations” article more than an year ago. It was nice to know that you have not forgotten this website and still like my reviews. Much appreciated and thanks.

    Good choice about the Dell 13 and Toshiba 2015 models. Closer the time you can see if Acer14 or HP13 can be considered as well or not. Good luck and do let us know your experience once you use your new Chromebook.

    Cheers, Best Regards

  • scott

    Screen quality is on par with the Toshiba II Chromebook 2015 and the newer HP13 Chromebook. It’s one of the brightest screens available on a Chromebook just below the Toshiba II, HP 13, and of course the Pixel II.
    The color accuracy or “gamut” is one of the highest currently available on a Chromebook, again slightly lower than the Toshiba II, HP 13, and Pixel II.
    It is a 1080p IPS with quite good off axis viewing and only barely noticeable “light bleed” on black scenes along the bottom right corner of the display.
    As far as I can tell the touch version is the same panel as the non touch, but with the Gorilla glass/capacitive touch panel.
    As with most panels, the glossy screen provides a slightly brighter and more vivid color with the caveat of some reflectiveness in bright ambient lighting.

  • Scott, thanks very much, very helpful. In fact, it was relevant and valuable hence I have added your comment in the main article under “display quality” heading as a user-opinion.

    Thanks again for your input. We would love to have your views in the future as well if you come across any other article on REASONTOUSE.

  • scott

    Thanks Ahmad, glad my views were helpful.
    I will definitely be keeping up with your postings. :)