The Bottom Line
Mar 3 2014 - Dell's Inspiron 17 7000 Touch is going to be a hard sell for the company. The system is actually quite well built and offers battery life far better than most 17-inch laptops, but it does this by sacrificing its performance such that it only really distinguishes itself by coming with a touchscreen display that most other companies don't offer in this size. The problem is that you can get nearly the same level of features from the 15-inch version from Dell that makes more sense as people looking for larger displays often want higher performance.
- Long Battery Life
- Excellent Build Quality
- Lower Performance Than Similarly Sized Systems
- Relatively Dim Display
- Still a Bit Heavy For Its Design
- Intel Core i7-4500U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm 8GB Solid State Hybrid Drive
- Dual Layer DVD Burner
- 17.3" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2GB GDDR5 Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth
- Four USB 3.0, HDMI, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 16.2" x 10.6" x 1.1" @ 7.3 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Dell Inspiron 17 7000 Touch
Mar 3 2014 - Dell's redesign of their Inspiron laptop brought with it a new emphasis on thinner and lighter designs and several tiers of options. The Inspiron 17 7000 Touch shares much of the same design touches as the Inspiron 15 7000 I looked at in December but on a larger scale to fit the 17-inch screen. It is a bit thicker at 1.1-inches but this is still thinner than most laptops in this class that also include an optical drive. Weight is still a bit heavy at 7.3 pounds but this is probably from the use of more metal in the frame than some others which does mean it is fairly sturdy for its size.
Rather than using a traditional full power laptop processor with its largest Inspiron laptop, Dell continues to use the ultrabook classed processor in the Core i7-4500U dual core model. This runs at a lower voltage and just has two cores rather than four. This provides a trade off of sorts. It means that there is less performance so the system is not as well suited for high end computing tasks like desktop video editing or PC gaming but it also comes less power. Still, the processor does provide more than enough performance for the average user that primarily uses the computer for browsing the web, streaming media and productivity software. The processor is matched up with 6GB of DDR3 memory that provides it with a smooth overall experience but it would have been nice at this price point for it to come with 8GB.
Solid state drives are a big item right now for improving the performance of computers but they do have the disadvantage of limited storage space unless you are willing to spend a lot. Dell elected to use a solid state hybrid drive for the Inspiron 17 7000 Touch. This is a drive that combines a small 8GB solid state memory with a large one terabayte traditional spinning drive. This gives it plenty of storage space and a slight boost in performance when booting up Windows or using frequently accessed programs. The downside is that the small amount of cache means that it doesn't have the exact performance as a dedicated SSD but it is a good compromise. If you do need additional storage space, there are four USB 3.0 port (two on either side) for use with high speed external storage drives. The system still does come with a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
Most of the 17-inch laptops now are focused on gaming as as a result their display skew towards fast response times and lack touch. Dell takes a more traditional approach and equips the Inspiron 17 7000 Touch with a 17.3-inch display panel that features a multitouch surface for use with Windows 8. The display features a 1920x1080 native resolution for 1080p HD video playback and offers a good level of color and contrast. In particular, it offers much better viewing angles than other laptops in this class. The one downside is that the display does not seem as bright as others which makes it a bit more difficult to use outdoors and in challenging lighting conditions. This may have been done to try and extend the running times by consuming less power. The graphics for the system do use an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics processor. This is a mid-tier graphics option from NVIDIA and is not going to be a high-end gaming option. It will run some games at full native resolution but many games will require the use of lower resolutions and detail levels to keep the frame rates smooth. The benefits of having the dedicated processor are much better suited for those looking to accelerate non-3D applications.
The keyboard for the Inspiron 17 7000 is essentially identical to that found on the smaller Inspiron 15 7000. It features an isolated layout with a numeric keypad. The issue here is that the size of this laptops means that it could have used more space but instead there is over an inch on either side of the keyboard that could have been used to provide a less cramped keyboard. In addition, it does have the same shallow amount of travel for the keys. The trackpad is also similar with a decently sized surface with integrated buttons. It had no trouble with multitouch gestures but that isn't as much of an issue with the touchscreen display.
The battery pack for the Dell Inspiron 17 7000 uses the same 58WHr capacity as the 15-inch model. Now this is a relatively small battery pack when it comes to 17-inch laptops but the components used here are much more efficient than the performance oriented laptops generally in this size. In digital video playback testing, it was able to run for six and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is well above average for this size of laptop and it the trade-off you get for sacrificing the performance.
Pricing for the Dell Inspiron 17 7000 Touch is around $1300. This is fairly typical for a laptop of this size or features. The closest competition that Dell has at this price and features is from the Acer Aspire V3 772G and the HP Envy 17-j100. Neither of these competitors offer a touchscreen display which is something to note. The Acer offers a much higher performance system that comes with a quad core processor and a solid state drive. It can also generally be found for a bit less than the Dell. On the downside, the system has very little running time and the trackpad has some big issues which make it hard to use with Windows 8. The HP has a higher base price tag but can be found for roughly the same price depending upon the configuration. Like the Acer, it uses a quad core processor to have higher performance and it also comes with two one terabyte drives and a Blu-ray player. It even features the LEAP Motion controller built into it but it is not quite as useful as a touchscreen display.