Excellent performanceUnassumingly attractiveMostly solid build qualityGood keyboard and mouseStrong battery life

The 14-inch laptop is an increasingly popular size. It offers a larger display than 13-inch laptops, but a much smaller chassis than 15-inch machines. It’s also gaining popularity among convertible 2-in-1s, again offering more screen real estate for things like digital inking while being far less cumbersome than 15-inch 2-in-1s. Dell gets that, and its newest Inspiron 14 2-in-1 fits right in.

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I reviewed the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU and a 16:9 Full HD display. It carries a $1,000 price tag, which is not budget by any means –it actually borders on premium territory. And while the 16GB of RAM and 512GB solid-state drive (SSD) sweeten things a bit, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has a lot to live up to. While it performed well and had impressive battery life, its display holds it back — making its price a challenging hurdle.


Design

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The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is constructed of a mix of aluminum in the lid and plastic in the chassis, and it manages its materials to give it a mostly robust feel in hand. The lid flexes just a bit under pressure and there’s some display distortion — never a good thing — but the keyboard deck and bottom chassis are solid. It’s built well enough for the price, and considerably better than the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 that’s about $300 less (with a lower-end Ryzen 5 CPU and half the RAM). The $735 Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 was just as well-built and thus proves that you don’t have to spend $1,000 or more for solid build quality, while at the same time the $1,100 clamshell Acer Swift X had more flexing in the lid and keyboard deck. Go figure. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1’s hinge was stiff, requiring two hands to open, but it held the display firmly in its four positions — clamshell, tent, media, and tablet — and it props up the keyboard deck for a comfortable typing angle and extra airflow.


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Aesthetically, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 comes in two colors in the AMD configuration, Pebble Green and Mist Blue, and just Platinum Silver in its Intel incarnation. My review unit was Mist Blue, and that’s a little deceiving — the laptop is actually two-toned, with the Mist Blue covering the lid and a dark gray (or brown in some lighting) covering the bottom chassis. The display top and bottom and chassis front and rear edges are rounded, but the angles are simple, giving the laptop a minimalist appearance that’s attractive enough without standing out. The display bezels aren’t as small as I’d like along the top and bottom, but they’re not overly huge and don’t detract too much from a modern appearance. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 and Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i are both similarly understated. The HP Spectre x360 14 stands out as being much more elaborately designed, but it’s also considerably more expensive.

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In terms of its size, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is thin enough at 0.64 to 0.71 inches depending on where you measure, and it’s right in the ballpark for 14-inch convertible 2-in-1s at 3.43 pounds. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 comes in at 0.72 inches and 3.31 pounds, while the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is much thicker at 0.82 inches and almost as heavy at 3.3 pounds. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a little deeper than it could be, given the slightly large bezels, but it’s a comfortable size overall. There’s nothing to complain about here.