Small laptops, with 11.6-inch displays, have become rather favored by consumers. There are many factors for that, with the simple portability and the affordability of the high cost making these an excellent option for home consumption as well as for many who desire a light machine to transport around. Asus had launched the rather impressive VivoBook F202e this past year, and HP’s TouchSmart 11 ended up being a fairly neat offering aswell. Dell has jumped in to the fray, with the updated Inspiron 11. Why don’t we find out if this matches up to, and perhaps even enhances upon, both direct rivals.

Build & Design
As soon as you take the Inspiron 11 out from the box, the entire design makeover is striking. It has happened with the Inspiron 14 and the Inspiron 15 versions already, and today even the infant in the pack gets the brand new design. The inspiration from the XPS group of ultrabooks is very much indeed visible, and as we’ve said over and over, that is a positive thing.

The lid, the keyboard deck in addition to the underside have all been given the soft feel finish, which does two good stuff – doesn’t make your body glossy and susceptible to scratches and also, having less shine gives the notebook computer a much more complex look. The only slightly shiny factor on the complete machine may be the black bezel around the screen, because of the glass. The dual colour finish – grey on the lid and the lower, and black on the keyboard deck, looks very good.

Port placement is performed on both sides. The proper side spine has one USB port, the ethernet port and a memory card reader, as the left side holds two USB ports, HDMI out and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Viewed from side on, the visual illusion could have you assume that the Inspiron 11 is thinner on the near side and thicker towards the display hinge. But that’s not true, and simply a trick played by the grey colour spilling outward from the bottom.

The Inspiron 11 weighs 1.4 kg, exactly like the Asus VivoBook F202e, but 0.1 kg lighter compared to the HP TouchSmart 11. But, what really must change may be the power adapter. It really is still a pain to transport around a brick, when famous brands Asus and Apple have successfully shifted to the sleeker direct plug-in adapters. Hopefully, 2014 will usher for the reason that change.

Overall, the Inspiron 11 is made and made with the focus being on reduced look. And which has worked. From afar, or when it can be sitting on the desk, the notebook computer looks far more expensive than it really is.

Performance
The Inspiron 11 packs an Intel Celeron 2955U processor clocked at 1.4 GHz, along with 2GB of RAM. This dual core processor premiered towards the finish of 2013, and is dependant on Haswell’s 22nm architecture. The HD graphics are also hook upgrade over the Ivy Bridge iteration, at least in some recoverable format, but don’t make an excessive amount of difference in real life. Just to offer you a much better notion of what the rivals offer, we’ve this helpful little table comparing the specifications.

On the performance front, the Inspiron 11 isn’t likely to set any performance charts ablaze. The benchmark scores prove what real life utilization had evidently indicated. For basic usage, this Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM is sufficient. And by basic usage, we mean somewhat of web browsing, emails, music playback and the casual movie playback when linked to a bigger screen via HDMI. However, even within that, you don’t have an excessive amount of headroom to multi-task. Open 4 tabs in Chrome, and other things that you open will need its sweet time. HD movie playback is smooth, but skipping through the timeline isn’t as smooth as on the VivoBook F202e and the HP TouchSmart 11. Yes, the CPU has its limitations, however the bigger bottleneck may be the 2GB of RAM (at least on the review machine that people received), as the other two offer 4GB RAM. In this regard, the TouchSmart 11 and the VivoBook F202e felt more speedily and superior compared to the Inspiron 11, when it found multi-tasking and handling HD media playback.

The Inspiron 11 got a PC Mark 07 score of 1163, as the TouchSmart 11 scored 1360 and the F202e scored 1782 in the same test.

In conditions of how Celeron’s HD graphics perform, the CineBench OpenGL score of 10.39 fps was again the cheapest of the lot. The AMD Radeon HD 8210 GPU in the TouchSmart 11 scored 13.35fps in the same test, as the Intel HD 4000 in the F202e clocked 13.48fps. Obviously, the performance difference doesn’t really result in much in real life, expect that will be equally useless if you want to play the popular game titles.

In conditions of battery life, the overall game changes altogether. For all your shortcomings with regards to performance, the Inspiron 11 really impressed on the critical factor – battery life. Till now. The HP TouchSmart 11 was the first choice, with the battery lasting 247 minutes inside our battery backup test. The Inspiron 11 clocked 254 minutes in the same battery test. It could not mean a lot more than a quarter-hour difference in real life usage, but that is clearly a a lot more than welcome bonus for a battery that already easily lasted around 6 hours on an average day at any office.

The 11.6-inch screen includes a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which is virtually standard across notebooks in this category. It’s natively quite bright and the written text displayed is quite crisp. However, this display does have a tendency to reflect the immediate surroundings back at you, frequently. The touchscreen response is consistent, although small screen means you might not exactly get the required accuracy on a regular basis, when choosing in a crowded file list.

The keyboard takes some used to, due to small footprint. However, once you do, the main element travel and typing precision will probably be worth applauding. The response is sharp, and the keyboard includes a fairly solid feel to it – signified by the resounding thud for each and every key press. The touchpad is surprisingly big for a notebook this size, and that basically supports the gestures when you might not exactly be using the touchscreen.

To buy or never to buy?
The updated Inspiron 11 could very well be the perfect machine for home users, who may well not desire a notebook computer for any other thing more than web browsing, emails, media playback and the casual video speak to relatives abroad. Or simply the nice battery life makes this suitable for someone who requires a machine for accessing and focusing on documents, on the run. But that is just about it. This Dell notebook falls short on power for tasks any heavier than that. For anybody who would like some semblance of “future-proofing” regarding performance, the HP TouchSmart 11 or the Asus VivoBook could be slightly better bets.