Convertibles are here to stay, at least that's what HP and Dell would tell you based on their recent launches. Both companies have invested an awful lot in this new segment which seems to be gaining a lot of traction, especially amongst those consumers who either can't afford to buy a tablet and a laptop as well as those who simply don't see the point in buying both products.
It's with this in mind that Dell has introduced a new convertible that takes the best of both worlds-along with an accessible price tag- , the one we're gonna review today. Specifically we're gonna take on the review of the Dell Inspiron i3168-0029GRY, a nice 11 inch convertible that stands out thanks to its latest generation Celeron CPU, eMMC storage unit and quite a bit more features we'll cover in depth.
Pros: Celeron N3060 processor, eMMC storage, touchscreen, USB ports as well as an HDMI port, weighs a little over 3 pounds, price is pretty hard to beat.
Cons: 2GB of RAM makes this a light computing device.
Display and overall build quality
This is not a premium line convertible and that shows from the first moment you lay your hands on it. In this sense, we're talking about a convertible with a plastic body that while well built -like most of Dells products - still leaves us lingering for the tactile feedback we get from the far more expensive convertibles flocking around.
That said, the fact that it's made out of plastic also means it's pretty light, weighing a little more than 3 pounds which makes it extremely portable. The display is an 11.6 inch HD touchscreen display with LED-backlit technology. Being a convertible you're able to flip the screen so that it covers the keyboard and thus works as a fairly nice tablet.
Another benefit to being a small convertible is that - when on tablet mode- the Dell Inspiron i3168-0029GRY doesn't present itself as a huge machine that's a hassle to carry around but rather a slightly bigger than average tablet.
A powerful Celeron processor that sets the course
While most Windows tablets come packed with a rather basic Intel Atom processor, this model has decided to take things further and houses an Intel Celeron N3060 CPU clocking at 1.6GHz and reaching a maximum boost frequency of 2.48GHz with two cores and 2MB of L2 cache on its back.
Why is this important? Well this matters to you as a consumer because you're getting a CPU that was designed for entry level laptops and not for entry level tablets, that means that overall performance is much better and it can deal with much more complex tasks then you would be able to if it had a tablets CPU.
Obviously we can't talk about performance and ignore the system memory. To this point we've got 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM working at 1600MHz. That's pretty limiting in and of itself and says quite a bit about what Dell intends us to do with this model.
Specifically, by giving this convertible 2GB of RAM and a relatively powerful CPU Dell is saying that while we might get away with performing some relatively heavy duty tasks we shouldn't go overboard as RAM is still a limitation to overall performance.
What does this mean for the user? Well, it basically means that you can run apps like a browser, spotify, stream movies, edit documents and even do some light coding as long as you don't get too greedy and seek to do all of these things at once which would result in a delayed performance and the dreaded "Lags".
Limited storage (with a workaround) and an ok battery life
Storage is another big hint that Dell throws our way as we review the Dell Inspiron i3168-0029GRY. In this matter we've got 32GB of eMMC storage which is a bit slower than your standard SSD unit yet faster than your standard mechanical hard drive.
What Dell means to tell us with its limited storage is that this convertible has been designed mainly for the purpose of content consumption and not for content storage. It also goes to show that you won't be able to install heavy software which is actually to your benefit since due to the RAM limitations you wouldn't really be able to execute properly.
That said, there is a workaround in the storage front. You could place a microSD card in the microSD card slot and use it as an integrated external drive. In fact, if you plan to house a lot of files we should strongly urge you to do so.
Specifically, we would urge you to purchase a high speed microSD card since they're quite affordable and that way you could easily double or even triple the base storage without spending much money in the process.
In terms of battery life, Dell's latest convertible to hit the market packs a 2 cell battery and given the overall specs on this device we would venture to say that battery life for normal usage should be along the lines of 4 to 5 hours, however we wouldn't expect battery life to go beyond that, especially when you're going to do some hardcore work. Also, since Dell hasn't officially stated battery life expectancy these are rough estimates based on the hardware in store.
Other stuff you should know
As this review comes to a wrap we should point out some other features present in this laptop such as the inclusion of 3 USB ports, something not all that common amongst 11 inch notebooks. What's more, we've also got an HDMI output to connect the convertible to a monitor.
In the way of connectivity we've also got the aforementioned microSD card slot as well as WiFi 802.11 bgn connectivity and Bluetooth support. Being an 11 inch laptop there's no trace of an ethernet port or of a DVD drive but this is mostly standard within such portable sizes.
Finally, this laptop runs on Windows 10 so you shouldn't have to do any OS updates once you turn it on exception for the occasional minor software update of course depending on when you opt to purchase it.
Bottom line: Is this convertible worth the money?
At the end of the day we're still talking about an extremely affordable convertible that packs the features of a mid range tablet as well as an entry level laptop. Surely storage isn't a strong suit but there's an easy workaround and while RAM is limited you've got to consider that the Dell Inspiron i3168-0029GRY in review has been designed mostly as a light computing device, aimed at users who want more power than a traditional tablet yet less than a conventional entry level PC.
Overall, it's a great purchase as a student laptop, secondary laptop or simply for someone who wants access to a tablet but doesn't want to deal with all the restrictions that tablets come with in the way of USB ports and the lack of a laptop keyboard. You can check out pricing and availability here.