Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (3168) Review

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com
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There aren't many convertible, touchscreen laptops for less than $250. Dell's Inspiron 11 3000 Series 2-in-1 (3168) is a rare find in that regard, but many consider its battery life lackluster.

It's rare to find a budget laptop with a touchscreen for less than $300, but Dell managed to make it happen with its Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 convertible (starting at $250, Amazon). To get the price that low, however, the manufacturer had to cut some corners.

The base model of the Inspiron 11 3000 Series has an Intel Celeron CPU with a fairly scant 2GB of RAM and a 32GB eMMC hard drive. It runs Windows 10 64-bit. Its 11.6-inch LED screen doesn't manage the 1080p clarity some other cheap models proffer, and settles instead on a resolution of 1366 x 768 powered by an integrated Intel graphics chip. Its inputs include an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports (you won't find a newer USB-C port here), a mic input, and an SD card reader. It supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connections (no 802.11ac available) as well as Bluetooth 4. The system weighs just over 3 pounds.

A Laptop Mag reviewer liked several aspects of the Dell Inspiron 11 3000. First, of course, it's affordable, and comes in a variety of fun colors, including sassily-named Tango Red and Bali Blue models. Also, despite its plastic framing, it feels sturdy, not cheap. Its keyboard has a nice feel, as well, although critics say it could be a little more responsive. The touchpad was praised for its accuracy and its ability to follow along with a range of finger gestures smoothly. The audio system also earned praise for surprisingly loud sound and nice bass.

On the downside, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000's display was judged decidedly lacking, not surprising giving its somewhat modest resolution ratings. The Laptop Mag reviewer points out that this latest version's display didn't look as impressive as previous models, with a dim screen and colors that weren't as accurate as would be desired. Also, images from the laptop's webcam appear fuzzy.

An expert from CNET recommends upgrading the base model from 2GB of RAM to 4GB, which will help to improve its performance although it won't up the display quality. The expert also recommends choosing a faster processor. Upgrading these two components raises the price to at least $319, but it's almost certainly worth it. But note that a faster CPU will drain the battery a little faster -- Laptop Mag's testing was conducted using a model with the most powerful configuration and the battery lasted only five hours and 30 minutes.

This budget computer's performance is just passable for the price -- it's respectable, but not without its weak points. But what the manufacturer is really selling here is the convenience of convertibility. If you're looking for a Windows-based laptop that doubles as a tablet with touchscreen on the cheap, you won't find a lot of choices. Dell's Inspiron 11 3000 is one of a very few you'll uncover for this low cost.

Michael Sweet

Michael Sweet writes about consumer electronics. If something runs on electricity or ones and zeroes, he's interested in it. Sweet has written about PC technology and consumer electronics for 14 years.

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