Dell added a new member to its Inspiron line ahead of IFA 2018. Today, the company announced the new Inspiron Chromebook 14 two-in-one, a Chrome OS convertible that's not like the super-affordable Chromebooks you may be familiar with. It doesn't have a low-powered processor, it's not made of plastic, and it even comes with an active pen to use with its touchscreen—all at the starting price of $599.
The new Inspiron Chromebook looks and feels similar to Dell's Windows-based Inspiron machines. It has an all-metal body and somewhat flattened hinges that allow it to rotate into tablet mode. Even with its metal design and 14-inch FHD touchscreen, the new Chromebook weighs under four pounds and doesn't feel as hefty as other 14-inch machines.
Dell updated the internal thermal management system, so now there are a few vents in the part of the chassis directly behind the hinges. You won't see them unless you peer at the hinges while you're rotating the Chromebook, but they help the machine expel heat better and maintain a good working temperature.
Dell also hid an active pen in the chassis of the Inspiron Chromebook. It lives on the underside of the notebook at the bottom-right corner and pops out with a light push at its end. Like other active pens, this one doesn't need to be charged, and it's a very basic stylus. Those keen on drawing and handwriting notes don't have to pay extra for a stylus that works with this Chromebook, and it'll be harder to lose since it stows away in the notebook itself.
To match the premium design, Dell put a Core i3 processor inside this Chromebook along with Intel UHD 620 graphics, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage, and a 56WHr battery that should last up to 10 hours on a single charge. As for ports, the Chromebook has two USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one USB-A port, a microSD card slot, and a headphone/mic jack.
By going with better specs and a more attractive design, Dell wants to attract an aging generation of Chromebook users: those who have grown comfortable with Google's OS after using it for years in school. Some may want a Chrome OS device that looks better and works harder than the $300 devices they're accustomed to using—and one that doesn't break the bank like Google's Pixelbook does.
New Inspiron inspiration
Dell also updated all of the convertibles in its Inspiron 7000 and 5000 families. The 13-, 15-, and 17-inch Inspiron 7000 two-in-ones now have the new thermal system found in the Inspiron Chromebook, featuring vents behind the hinges. All have fingerprint readers at the top-right corner of the keyboard area, along with two fair-field mics that sit near the webcam (positioned at the top of the display) and can hear Alexa and Cortana commands from up to eight meters away. Alexa is a new addition to the Inspiron family, and we're seeing more companies like Dell bring Alexa to their Windows PCs now thanks to Microsoft's partnership with Amazon. That partnership allows the two virtual assistants to work together.
Dell enabled Modern Standby mode on the Inspirion 7000 convertibles as well. This low-power mode lets the laptop's screen work like a smartphone's screen when it goes to sleep, instantly powering on when it senses specific actions such as the press of your finger to the fingerprint reader or a voice command.
As with previous Inspiron laptops, users can customize the 7000 series convertibles to suit their needs. Each supports both Core i5 and i7 processors and up to 32GB of RAM, with the 15- and 17-inch models supporting optional Intel Optane memory. Intel UHD graphics come standard, but users can opt for a Nvidia MX150 chip in the 15-inch model or get it standard in the 17-inch device. The 13-inch convertible supports up to 1TB of PCIe storage, while the 15- and 17-inch models support dual PCIe and SSD storage options. All models come standard with an FHD touchscreen, but the 13- and 15-inch devices support optional 4K touchscreens as well.
The 14-inch Inspiron 5000 convertibles now comes with all-metal designs, standard touchscreens, and included active pens. While the look and feel of these mid-range two-in-ones is now much different, Dell still lets users customize most other features including internal specs, optional biometric login features, and more. It supports up to Core i7 processors, Intel UHD graphics with an optional Nvidia MX130 chip, HD and FHD touchscreens, up to 24GB of RAM and Optane options, and dual drives with PCIe, SATA, and SSD configurations.
The new convertibles also have two USB-C ports as well, marking the first time that this new port made its way to the 5000 series. Dell hopes that customers who don't want or cannot afford the top-tier XPS laptops will flock to the Inspiron 7000 and 5000 series thanks to these premium upgrades.
The Inspiron Chromebook 14 will be available on October 23 starting at $599. The Inspiron 7000 series convertibles will be available on October 2 starting at $849, while the new Inspiron 5000 series convertibles will also be available on October 2 starting at $599.
Listing image by Valentina Palladino