Dell Chromebook 13 7310 review: The business-class Chromebook Pixel

Dell’s premium Chromebook has been built for business – it’s not cheap, but it’s beautifully constructed and a joy to use

4
Price when reviewed 
1,096
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Google’s Chromebook Pixel changed everything. Despite being stratospherically expensive, it proved once and for all that Chromebooks could be just as desirable – if not more so – than the finest high-end laptops. Now that Chrome OS is making inroads into big business, Dell has taken inspiration from Google’s efforts for its business-class Chromebook 13.

Dell Chromebook 13 7310: Design

Imagine for a moment that the Chromebook Pixel and one of Dell’s high-end Latitude laptops had a secret liaison – the product of that illicit relationship would surely be the Chromebook 13.

If it weren’t for the bright, unmistakeable Chrome logo on the lid, you’d never believe this was a Chromebook. It’s quite, quite lovely. Carbon fibre stretches across the lid, the base is armoured in silky-feeling charcoal-grey metal, and every corner rounds to a perfect curve. Make no mistake, this is every inch the subtly stylish business laptop, and it just so happens to run Chrome OS.

It’s no lightweight, though. Several of the Alphr team remarked on its heft after picking it up for the first time, and for good reason – at 1.62kg, it’s remarkably heavy compared to most £1,000 13.3in laptops. The build quality is superb, however. There’s barely a hint of give in the rock-solid base, and the carbon-fibre lid feels reassuringly tough and sturdy, too. If Dell’s goal was to combine hard-knock build quality with a dash of style, then it’s fair to say it’s hit the mark.

Dell Chromebook 13 7310: Keyboard and touchscreen

Sometimes, a keyboard just feels right – and this is one of those times. The Chromebook 13’s keyboard is a joy to work with, and as there’s no hint of bounce or flex in the base, the crisp action of the keys feels fantastic. Every keystroke leaves you in no doubt as to whether you’ve successfully pressed a key or not, and the combination of slightly shrunken keys and ample spacing makes it every bit as good as a desktop keyboard. My only complaint? The up and down cursor keys are just a touch cramped.

The buttonless touchpad is a delight. The glass feels wonderfully smooth under the finger; there's a lovely, solid click; and scrolling gestures are perfectly responsive. Combined with the touchscreen above, it makes for a Chromebook experience that is wonderfully slick and refined. Whether you instinctively prod the display or tap the touchpad, everything behaves consistently. It’s great.

Dell Chromebook 13 7310: Display and touchscreen

The Chromebook 13’s Full HD 13.3in touchscreen is a far cry from the Chromebook Pixel’s gloriously sharp 2,560 x 1,700 panel, but it’s still a big step upwards from most Chromebooks. Colours are pleasingly bright and saturated, and images and videos pop off the screen with plenty of punch and contrast.

Not everyone will love the touchscreen’s high-gloss finish, though, and the airgap between the display and the glass doesn’t help either, causing some annoying glare and reflections. Closer inspection reveals other issues, too. The modest maximum brightness of 227cd/m2 leaves the Dell struggling outdoors or under very bright lighting conditions. And while a measured contrast ratio of 857:1 is respectable, it’s nowhere near the best Windows devices I’ve seen. The range of colour isn’t quite up with the best, either: the Dell’s panel covered 90% of the sRGB gamut, which is good but not great.

Continues on page 2: Performance, battery life, connectivity and overall verdict

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