The clue’s in the name: just like the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1, this 15in laptop boasts a 360-degree hinge that turns it into a monster 15in tablet with one rotation of the screen. Nor does this come at the expense of bulk, with a sleek and stylish gunmetal grey chassis. It’s actually made of plastic, but this laptop feels durable and the faux metal finish makes it look far more premium than its price would suggest.
On closer examination, though, you start to question the wisdom of buying this machine. The two hinges are stiff and sturdy enough when you want to prop it up in tent mode or use it on your lap, but steer away from “presentation mode”, where the keyboard lies face down on the table: repeated prodding made the screen fall progressively further back. It’s fine for swipes and scrolling through web pages, but be gentle.
Then we come to its size. Wielding a 2.3kg “tablet” takes its toll on your arms in seconds rather than minutes, and it isn’t helped by sharp edges that dig into your palms. At least there’s a decent amount of space around the edge of the keyboard to give you something smooth to hold onto without blundering into keys.
The downside comes when you’re using the Inspiron 15 5000 as a proper laptop. It’s still a full-sized keyboard, but crowding everything together in the centre means that typing can feel cramped. This is a shame, because the keys themselves provide plenty of tactile feedback. You even get two levels of backlighting, while the touchpad is superbly responsive.
The 15.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display is more underwhelming, with its sRGB colour gamut coverage only stretching to 57.2%. Its contrast ratio of 1,275:1 is respectable by comparison, but a low peak brightness of 272cd/m2 means it’s not the most practical choice outdoors or in brightly lit rooms.
There are two specifications available for the Dell Inspiron 15 5000, and I was sent the top-end model for review. This has a dual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U chip that can Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz under the right thermal conditions, and 12GB of RAM. The basic model has a Core i5-6200U and 8GB of RAM.
Scoring a respectable 48 in our rigorous benchmarks, this powerful machine is suitable for photo and video editing – just like the Inspiron 13 5000 opposite, which has identical specs. Again, you can squeeze in a little bit of light gaming if you want, as its Intel HD Graphics 520 chip managed a respectable 38fps in Dirt Showdown at 1,920 x 1,080 on Low.
Sadly, considering all the extra space on offer compared to the Inspiron 13 5000, Dell’s sticks with the same array of ports; the lack of an Ethernet port being the most noteworthy omission. The dual speakers sound nigh-on identical too, delivering good bass despite firing downwards into the table.
And, like its sibling, the Inspiron 15 5000 lasted about five-and-a-half hours in our continuous battery life test, but that’s more forgivable in a larger machine such as this; after all, bigger displays tend to demand more power.
Ultimately, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 shares many of the same flaws as its nearest competitor, the 14.1in Lenovo Yoga 700. They’re both fast, but neither has a great display or battery life. Overall, the Yoga 700 just about comes out on top, as its screen is marginally more colour accurate and it’s significantly lighter at 1.6kg.
If you’re after a 15.6in screen, the Inspiron 15 is undeniably great value. But unless you can see an obvious use for its convertible design, you’d be better off saving some money and opting for the “normal” version.
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