The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 didn't inspire us much with its benchmark performance or relentless nagware, but its clever design, long battery life and ample I/O eventually won us over. And its starting price of $399 could be music to the ears of cash-strapped college students, travelers and small-business owners.
When its rounded front and rear edges, Dell's three-pound, 11-inch laptop when closed looks more like a pair of thick metallic magazines than a clamshell-style notebook. Open the lid and a bright 1,366 x 768 IPS touch-panel display appears surrounded by an inch-wide black bezel that complements a handsome black keyboard. A super-wide touchpad occupies about one-third of the space that's otherwise occupied by wrist rests. The screen can, of course, revolve all the way around to create a tablet, or stop anywhere in between.
To test battery performance, testers cranked the screen to full brightness, disabled dimming, removed all nagware, left the Wi-Fi radio enabled and ran a digital media file continuously until the battery died. The three-cell, 43 wHr battery on the Inspirion 11 lasted one minute shy of six hours, giving us confidence that it would easily outlast its eight-hour rating. To test system performance, we set Windows properties for maximum performance and ran the 64-bit version of Geekbench 2.3. The benchmark reported a high score of 4,577.
Despite its lackluster benchmark, the quad-core Intel Pentium N3530 at 2.16GHz delivered adequate performance when running the 64-bit Windows 8.1 on 4-GB DDR3 RAM that came preinstalled on the test unit's 500-GB 5,400-rpm SATA hard disk. Also inside this 8 x 11.6 x by .75-of-an-inch device is a high-speed Wi-Fi AC radio, a Bluetooth 4.0 radio and an SD card slot. Straddling that slot on the right-hand edge are a USB 2.0 port and Kensington lock slot. Also on the right edge are a volume rocker and power switch. The left-hand edge is home to a full-size HDMI output port, headset jack, power input and two USB ports, one of which supports USB 3.0 transfer rates.
With its 11-inch IPS touch screen, ample RAM and hard drive, SD card slot, high-speed USB, full-size HDMI port, Windows 8.1 and a starting price of $399, the CRN Test Center believes the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 provides solid value for budget-conscious execs, travelers and college students.
PUBLISHED AUG. 25, 2014