Convertible laptops, or 2-in-1s as they’re better known, exist to serve a simple purpose – they function as regular laptops, but they either have detachable keyboards or a screen that swivels all the way around on a 360-degree hinge to use as a tablet or in ‘tent’ mode. Yet, most brands typically end up with compromised offerings, either too small to be useful for productivity applications or too heavy to compete with far more portable tablets.
I’m actually relieved to see laptops like the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 (7630) launch – they forgo any pretenses and compromises associated with tablets and prioritize everyday usability and strong multimedia credentials. With the Inspiron 16 2-in-1, you get an expansive 16-inch display and the latest 13th generation Intel chips in a 360-degree form factor, all at a sensible value-for-money price point.
A quick word about the models on offer. The unit I tested was the base variant (Rs. 1,01,989), with a 13th Gen Intel Core i5-1335U chip, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of LPDDR5 memory and 512GB of M.2 SSD storage and that capacious full HD+ 16-inch LCD display with native stylus support. There’s a Core i7 variant (Rs. 1,42,989) as well, with 16GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce MX550 graphics and a higher resolution 4K OLED display as well. The stylus is an optional extra on both models.
The Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 takes a fairly conformist approach to design, with a silver, aluminum-heavy body that’s generic looking and appropriately sized for a 16-inch display laptop, albeit a little on the heavier side (2.11kgs). The benefit of the heft is that it is built sturdy, from the lack of flex on the body to the solid hinges on which the screen rotates. The hinges in particular have no give, whether the device is in laptop mode or in tent mode, or all the way around in tablet mode.
The larger screen dimensions afford the Inspiron more room overall, with widely spaced keys, a large touchpad and enough space to fit in a pair of speakers on either side of the keyboard. But there’s no dedicated numeric keypad (I prefer better speakers and a centered keyboard, for what it’s worth). The keys themselves offered slightly shallow travel, and there’s an integrated fingerprint reader on the power button, while the enormous touchpad is sensitive and works well with Windows gestures.
Ports are a plenty too – two Thunderbolt 4.0 ports, 1 HDMI 1.4, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and an SD card slot – though I wish there were a couple of additional Type C ports, since you lose one to charging duties when you plug in the 65W AC adapter. Wireless connectivity is the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard and Bluetooth 5.2.
Onto the display, which is arguably the heart of such a device. The Full HD+ resolution is just sharp enough to avoid noticing any pixelation on the LCD panel, but it’s obvious that your experience would be much better on the sharper UHD+ resolution on the higher SKU, not to mention the huge upgrade the OLED panel (contrast levels, brightness) will provide by itself.
Brightness levels are middling, as is the basic 60Hz refresh rate, but color accuracy is good. The ‘taller’ 16:10 aspect ratio is great for productivity applications like Microsoft Word or Excel (as compared to a wider 16:9 aspect ratio) as it gives you additional vertical space to see more lines or rows, or simply more of the web page at a glance.
Flip the screen around and it feels massive and somewhat awkward as a tablet, though I’m sure the larger canvas will be appreciated by anyone who intends to use this for sketching or drawing.
Save for the thin black bars you’ll have to endure due to the 16:10 aspect ratio, the Inspiron 16 2-in-1 is a respectable content consumption machine, with four speakers producing room-filling sound that not only gets loud but also has a good degree of definition.
The webcam is a 1080p variety and it produces a crisp image on work calls, plus it has a physical privacy shutter for when the webcam isn’t in use. There’s no Windows Hello facial recognition capabilities on the base model – you’ll have to upgrade to the OLED display model for that.
The 13th generation Intel Core i5-1335U on the Inspiron 16 2-in-1 is of the ultraportable-targeted “U” variety, and combined with Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, you get a laptop that is perfectly capable for day-to-day tasks – streaming music, browsing, productivity apps, lightweight image editing – but not for heavyweight games.
The 8GB memory is snappy, but again, not meant for swapping large creative apps in and out of memory, and while you can upgrade this to the 16GB on the higher spec model, there’s no higher option than the 512GB storage at purchase.
Battery life is excellent, with the 6-cell 84 WHr lasting well past 13 hours of streaming video, so you should expect to get through a full workday, with some entertainment thrown in for good measure.
The Inspiron 16 2-in-1 lands at an interesting price point, offering a lot of features and acceptable everyday performance at a fair bit lower than Samsung’s super-light Galaxy Book3 Pro 360, the LG Gram 16 or HP’s Spectre x360 16, and this is where the build quality of the Dell inspires a lot more confidence than the almost delicate-in-comparison competition.
There’s plenty to like – good battery life, good sound, a decent display – though you will feel the weight each time you carry it around. Despite my reservations about 8GB memory on a laptop that costs a lakh, this Inspiron is a good choice for home and office use, particularly if you see yourself taking advantage of the flexible and spacious 16-inch display.
Tushar Kanwar, a tech columnist and commentator, tweets @2shar.