- Decent keyboard
- Good day-to-day performance
- Flimsy build
- Drab display
- Limited Wi-Fi support
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is an awkward 2-in-1 with an inflated price tag and some surprisingly limited features. If you are going to get it, make sure you get it cheap.
Windows 10 device makers must think there is market gold in taking underpowered Windows 10 laptops, adding a touchscreen along with a tablet mode, and pushing them as 2-in-1s. They’re all doing it, including HP, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Dell.
And that’s where we turn for the latest iteration of the trend, to Dell and its Inspiron 11 3000, an Intel-powered 2-in-1 featuring a 360-degree display hinge and 64-bit Windows 10 Home edition.
Dell sells at least four different configurations of the Inspiron 11 3000, with one of three Intel Celeron or Pentium processors, 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and various storage capacities. For the sake of this review, we tested the more powerful of the two middle machines, and it has an Intel Pentium 3540, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.
Build & Design
If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Dell does little here to differentiate the Inspiron 11 3000 from the pack, turning to the 360-degree display hinge Lenovo popularized with its Yoga line.
Even from a glance it’s obvious that this is an all-plastic machine, featuring a generic silver build with black keys and display bezel. Overall, it has good balance as a laptop (an advantage the hinged 2-in-1s have over the detachable variety, which are top heavy), and the two display hinges feel solid, offering just the right amount of resistance for comfortable transitions between modes.
Tablet mode is obviously secondary, and this device doesn’t function well that way. It’s too bulky and the display bezel too thick. But the 360-degree hinge enables other modes, like keyboard face down with the display propped up (there are rubber bumpers on the keyboard specifically for this), which is great for lean-back media consumption.
The bottom is glossy with four rubber bumpers, and all the pieces fit together well. Too bad the Inspiron 11 3000 is flimsy. The chassis has way too much give all around, and the display lid is especially weak. It feels like it could be snapped in half with a moderate amount of force.
Obviously, Dell is going for portability and lightness here (if not looking to keep the price down). And to that end the Inspiron 11 3000 weighs 3.07 pounds, and measures 11.81 x 7.9 x .76 inches (wdh).
Display & Speakers
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has an 11.6-inch touchscreen IPS display with a 1366 x 768 resolution, which results in 135 pixels per inch. That’s low compared to other pure tablets in this price class, which routinely have 200+ pixels per inch, but in line with other 2-in-1s. It’s pixel dense enough that users won’t detect any issue, but the difference is noticeable when the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is placed next to a Surface 3, or other similarly-sized Windows 10 tablet.
Overall, the Dell display is drab, and not very bright when maxed out. Glare presents issues, especially outdoors, as the display is very glossy. Viewing angles are potentially wide, but the display is too reflective for extreme angles. It picks up fingerprints, though we’ve seen worse on other devices.
The touchscreen is accurate and responsive enough, but it’s still not great. We’ve found this to be the case on other Windows 10 devices in this class, and it’s likely more of a software issue than hardware. In fact, Microsoft released a major Win 10 update during our review period that improved things a bit. The Dell Inspiron is still not as responsive as iPads or Android tablets, or even older Windows 8.1 tablets.
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has two speakers located on the portion of the side edges, just ahead of the ports, but behind the power button and volume rocker. Given that the 360-hinge enables various modes, front-facing speakers on the display would be preferable. As it stands, these speakers will never push sound directly at the user. And that might not be a bad thing, given they emit very hollow and tinny audio. We rarely have good things to say about laptop speakers, but these are particularly bad. At least they are loud enough for personal use.
Ports & Connectivity
With three full-sized USB inputs, we’ll try not to complain too hard about the port selection, but we think it’s time for manufacturers to start including USB Type-C on any thin-and-light or hybrid device.
Instead, the Dell Inspiron has a USB 2.0 input on either side, and a single USB 3.0 on the left. Oddly, the USB 3.0 isn’t marked blue, as is common, but instead has the small “SuperSpeed” logo designation — a minor quibble. Other inputs include a full-sized HDMI port, charging input, and 3.5mm audio input on the left side, along with a full-sized media card reader, and security lock slot on the right. A single button volume rocker and power button also sit on the front right corner.
We’ll always find some gripe with port selection, and in addition to USB Type-C, we still think any notebook big enough for it should include an Ethernet jack. In fact, we’d sacrifice a bit of portability for the added utility.
All ports are accessible for tablet mode, and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 also sports an odd physical Windows key centered on the bottom display bezel, between the two hinges. It’s placement makes it difficult to access, but it doesn’t detract from the overall design.
This Windows 10 2-in-1 supports Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but only 2.4GHz networks. This is disappointing, as all but budget tablets should support at least 5GHz networks, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Most other devices in this class also support Bluetooth 4.1, but the improvements from 4.0 focus mainly on wearables communicating data to one another and deal with LTE/Bluetooth interference. While there are also some power-savings benefits, users probably won’t notice any deficiencies in day-to-day use.
The ac thing is tough to swallow, and the lack of 5GHz support even tougher. Wireless ac routers are becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous by the day, and interference with 2.4GHz networks can stymie streaming media.
Keyboard & Touchpad
The Inspiron 11 3000’s 80-key QWERTY proves fine for typing thanks to the large, Chiclet-style keys and ample spacing. Key stroke travel is shallow and there’s noticeable bounce around the FGHJ keys in the middle. But things are crisp enough that it doesn’t hinder the typing experience.
Cursor keys, and the typical Windows 10 controls (display brightness, volume, play/pause) are all on board, doubling up with the function keys, with the controls the primary option, as it should be.
The single-piece trackpad is large, and sports a slight texture, but it’s not nearly as responsive as it needs to be. In fact, it’s lousy. Users are better off tapping the display than turning to the cursor.