Dell Chromebook 13 Review


I have long been an advocate of Chrome OS. I know. I know. It’s not as mature as the offerings from other organizations. But I don’t need it to be. I’m not a hardcore media producer or Photoshop artist. I just need a computer most days. What I have wanted from Google’s other operating system is more premium hardware. And 2015 has delivered a couple of models that include the Dell Chromebook 13.

My initial thoughts leaned towards the new Pixel, but at $1000, I just couldn’t spend that much on a laptop. It would be my main workhorse for the things I do on a daily basis, but the price tag was just too much. Enter Dell. The XPS line is one of my favorites, and I use the Latitudes regularly at work. The Chromebook 13 borrows heavily from both of these bloodlines.

Hardware
This is not your budget model build quality. The lid is wrapped in a nice soft touch carbon fiber material while the rest of the chassis is built from magnesium alloy. Your are presented with a hefty 3 pound, but very sturdy, casing that I have no issues throwing in my bag with little reservation of durability. The lid does show fingerprints pretty easily, but really my only complaint.

The hinges are stiff and open with just the right resistance. On the left side you will find the power port, HDMI, USB 3.0, headphones jack, and a microSD slot. I’m really disappointed that they went with the smaller SD slot. A full SD would have made much more sense and I can’t find a reason why it couldn’t have happened. If not on the left, then on the right where you’ll find only a single USB port and Kensington lock.

Screen
The screen is my biggest reason for upgrading from my original Dell 11 CB. I was simply tired of settling for a TN panel with 1366x768. That was fun 4 years ago. Gladly, the Dell 13 is accompanied by a 13.3 full HD IPS panel 1080p screen. It’s Corning Gorilla Glass covered and gorgeous. Colors and text are crisp with really good viewing angles. Personally, I bumped the aspect ratio down from the recommended 1920x1080 to 1536x864 to help out with the smaller text, but to each his own.

Performance
The entry level unit starts with a Celeron processor at a $429 price point, but I upgraded a few things for my personal usage case to a model that hit $649. I see a lot of potential for Chrome OS in whatever its evolution has in the future, so I went with the Intel Core i3 model running the 5005u chipset. I also upgraded the RAM to 8GB with 32GB of storage. And let me say this dude flies! I have no issues with lag, or any slow downs, with the lightweight OS.

Keyboard
With the exception of maybe Lenovo, Dell makes the best keyboards in my opinion. The Dell CB 13 performs great here as well. With good spacing and travel, I found myself right at home and up to speed immediately. I really enjoy the Chrome layout as well. If you’ve used a Chromebook before you will have zero issues here. And the kicker…it’s backlit!

Trackpad
Chrome trackpads are historically good, but the one on the Dell 13 is a step above. It’s decently sized and just feels great. The surface is smooth and responds swiftly to any input and gestures. The glass materials build puts it at the top of the Chromebook market along the more expensive Pixel.

Conclusion
Chromebooks are quickly becoming a household name and a real force in the laptop market. However, they have become a bit stagnant in the quality of machines that reside there. In order for the OS, and strategy, to grow Google’s OEMs needed to up their game. They set the tone with the Pixel 2, and Dell has followed that model with a solid contender in the Dell 13. If you a lover of Chrome OS, but have longed for a premium experience, then the Chromebook 13 NEEDS to be on your short list. Find out more at Dell.com and even pimp out the hardware combo you desire.

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