Latest posts by Ahmad Imran (see all)
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Last updated in September 2017.
After using the Dell 13 for nearly 18 months, I finally said good bye to this brilliant machine and replaced it with the ASUS C302 flip Chromebook. My experience with the Dell 13 has been brilliant and the following article captures my thoughts just before the end of this 18 months journey with this Chromebook.
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.
18 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.
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 for 18 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.
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 the more recent Acer 14, ASUS C302 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 (September 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.
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 around 8 hours – plenty for a common user.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although in the second half of the 2017, there are a couple of other serious contenders you need to look at as well.
“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?