Dell recently refreshed its Inspiron notebook line with a new batch of 2-in-1s that come in a variety of configurations and sizes. Within the line’s flagship 7000 series, the 17-inch models are held up as “high-performance,” compared to their 13- and 15-inch kin. Here we review the Inspiron 17 7778, which is one rung down from the top of the heap and retails for $1,149. The only difference between this config and the top dog is that our unit has both a 128GB SanDisk SATA SSD for the OS and a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive for data, whereas the more premium model comes with a lone 512GB SSD for an extra $200.
The 17-inch model is notable since it’s a new addition to the 7000 series and, despite its large footprint, still offers 2-in-1 functionality, in theory at least. It has a 360 degree hinge so you can flip the screen all the way back to use as a tablet, a mode that requires considerable arm strength. Luckily you have the option of setting the device down in “tent mode,” which is actually quite usable at this large size.
Aside from its convertability, the 17-inch model has moderately high specs and is also reasonably thin for a desktop-replacement notebook. It’s a bit chunky at six pounds, but that’s a pound less than the curvaceous HP Envy 17. Its curved aluminum chassis makes it feel thinner than its .8-inch profile. To put its size in context, the super-thin Dell XPS 15 is .66-inch thick, so the Inspiron is just a tad more substantial.
The whole reason for a notebook this big is to have an ample display, and Dell has endowed this Inspiron with a beautiful 1920x1080 screen that includes touch functionality. Initially we figured a display this size would be 4K, but alas it’s just Full HD. Still, it looks sharp and there are certainly no scaling issues. Since the notebook is outfitted with a modest Nvidia GTX 940MX mobile processor, the panel is a suitable match.
Keyboard, trackpad, audio, and ports
The full-sized keyboard is backlit with white light that looks subtle and effective. It makes working in low light easy. Furthermore, the keyboard itself deserves praise. The keys don’t have a ton of travel, but their feel, which is sort of soft and squishy, belies the shallowness of the notebook’s surface. The trackpad, for its part, is one of the best we’ve used. Its matte surface feels good and is very accurate.
We were even more impressed by this Inspiron’s sound system, which is simply phenomenal. We couldn’t believe how loud it was and the amount of bass it produced, which could be felt a foot away. Dell hit it out of the park with the speakers for sure; it’s a surprising delight in a notebook that makes no claim to multimedia prowess.
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