Dell Inspiron 11 3000: A 2-in-1 For The Masses

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Software and User Experience

Flipping the Inspiron 11 3000 from laptop mode to tablet mode is a piece of cake, but we couldn’t escape the sense that the 11.6-inch screen went from feeling a little small (in laptop mode) to seeming a little big (in tablet mode). Although the system is practically a netbook in terms of weight and size, it’s certainly heavier than traditional tablets. You might find that it’s a bit heavy and a little unwieldy when you hold the device in tablet mode for very long. Still, that’s an understandable tradeoff for having two devices in one and it can provide valuable utility in various usage models.

One feature that we like more than we thought we would is the physical Start button. It sits at the very edge of the display so that it’s easy to reach whether the device is in laptop or tablet mode. Windows doesn’t automatically switch to the tablet-friendly Start page when you put the device in tablet mode, so the physical Start button makes it easy to manually switch Windows 8 out of Desktop mode.

Dell’s laptops are generally pretty sturdy and the Inspiron 11 3000 continues that tradition. The display doesn’t flex under ordinary pressure, and it sits firmly in place at every angle we tried, even when jostled.

As we mentioned earlier, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is mercifully light on installed software. We think Dropbox takes the best approach to piggy-backing on a new system: the installation files are on the laptop and you can decide whether to install it. If you do, Dropbox will give you up to 20GB of free storage for a year. Wyse PocketCloud also makes the list, as does McAfee Central, which handles your laptop’s security. Our test model included a 30-day subscription to McAfee’s features. After that, you’d need to pay. Dell also includes its own utilities for backing up and recovering your data in the event of a problem.

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Despite its modest hardware, the laptop handles video well. We had no trouble streaming video from Netflix and the movies looked crisp and bright. The laptop’s speakers were surprisingly loud and reasonably full for such a small machine.

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