Design and Build Quality
The Special Edition of the Inspiron 13 7000 isn't that much pricier than the standard model, and in our estimation, it's well worth the extra $150. Starting on the outside, you're presented with a beautiful, durable matte black finish on the top and bottom. Not only does it resist fingerprints, but it's grippy, smooth to the touch, and seamlessly put together. Windows-based machines were infamous for hodgepodge bottoms that had all sorts of lines running together, but on this machine, the attention to detail flows to areas where you'll probably never even look. That's a testament to Dell's new found focus on the minutia.
At 3.68 pounds, it's hefty enough to feel dense, rigid, and weighty enough to handle the rigors of travel. Road warriors will feel at ease tossing this unit around and cramming into overhead bins. Dell has done an exceptional job creating an exterior chassis that can stand up to bumps, while creating a svelte haven within once you lift the laptop's lid.
It all starts with the 13.3-inch Full HD multi-touch panel. Sure, it's less dense than Asus' Transformer Book T300 Chi, but in use, 1920 x 1080 is gorgeous on a screen this size. That resolution is also great for watching videos at native resolution. Colors are rich, the touch response is tremendous, and viewing angles are excellent. There's a larger-than-usual black bezel surrounding the display, but remember: this is meant to be used as a tablet, and bezel edge is vital for holding a slate without accidentally activating icons on the display.
The hinge system is also worthy of praise. The unit is designed so that the panel can flip all the way flat, or tilt in a triangular fashion so that it holds itself up much like a tent. Still, as a laptop, the screen held steady, and the hinges are actually quite minimal and sleek considering their abilities. The only real downfall here is that the screen does push back and wobble a bit when you touch it in laptop mode. It can't quite hold the screen steady there, but to Dell's credit, it probably expects most people to use a mouse (or trackpad) and keyboard when it's situated as a laptop.
The Special Edition model includes a beautiful chromed edging that adds a nice bit of flair without being overtly flashy. That beveled edge continues to the trackpad surround, too. The keyboard and trackpad area is a brushed silver, which is understated and businesslike. The backlit, water-resistant keyboard is delightful to type on, with the ideal amount of travel and spacing. The trackpad is also worthy of praise, with smooth inputs and accurate recognition that just weren't found on Windows-based machines a couple of years ago. The only real knock we have with the trackpad is the depth; to us, it feels as if you're able to depress the sides a little too much. It's a minor quibble, however, and certainly not a deal-breaker.
Along the edges you'll find a power button, volume rocker, SD/MMC card slot, two full-size USB 3.0 ports (along with a lone USB 2.0 socket), a full-size HDMI 1.4a connector, a Noble lock slot, and a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo port. Curiously, Dell decided not to include a passive stylus with the Special Edition model, though a stylus is included with the standard Inspiron 13 7000. In any case, our test unit was very responsive when used with a third-party stylus.
Two final notes on design. First off, there aren't any ports in the rear due to the 2-in-1 design which requires that area to be clear when the screen flips around. Secondly, the only palm rest sticker is a color-matching Intel Core i7 token on the lower right side, which seems fairly easy to remove. We're still longing for the day when stickers and bloatware are no more, but at least we're moving in the right direction.