Dell Chromebook 11 review

Dell Chromebook 11 review

It might be Dell's first attempt at a Chromebook, but the Chromebook 11 ticks all our boxes as a fast, cheap and reliable laptop. See also: Which laptop to buy: 2014 laptop buying advice, and the best laptops of 2014.

Another newcomer to the Chromebook shores is PC behemoth Dell. The Chromebook 11 is its first effort, and if this is anything to go by we welcome any other additions with great enthusiasm. As the name unimaginatively suggests, this model boasts an 11.6in display in its compact frame. The glossy TN panel does a good job for the most part, with a bright, easy to read surface, bearing a 1366x768 resolution. Like most other panels of this type, viewing angles are a little tight, but we found the one here to be a pleasing place for your eyes to spend some time. Also see: Best Chromebooks 2014

While the chassis is very similar to other offerings in this class, such as the Acer C720 and Lenovo N20p, Dell has made good aesthetic choices that deliver an attractive machine. The company logo on the back of the screen is understated, and fits nicely with the general professional air that the device exudes. The Dell Chromebook 11 might not have the bright coloured fun of an Asus, or the Apple inspired coolness of an HP 11, but for a cool, smart device the Dell looks the part.

This design ethos wobbles a little on the inside, with a spacious keyboard adorned by a slightly unusual font. Dell is no stranger to unusual typefaces, as many laptops through the ages can attest, so whether this floats your boat or not is a personal matter, but functionally the surface is responsive, easy to use, and feels generally very comfortable. It’s pretty much the same report for the Dell Chromebook 11's touchpad, which offers little distraction, while completing tasks with a simple authority. Multi-finger gestures, such as dragging four down to reveal all open apps, or moving three fingers left or right to cycle through open tabs, are all smooth and controlled, making navigating around Chrome OS a breeze.  

As this is a Chrome device you won’t find many of your normal Windows applications available, but the Chrome store is growing at an impressive rate, and the internet really does deliver so many software options now. One issue worth remembering is that you won’t be able to connect any of your iDevices to this machine, so if Apple is your choice of mobile hardware then Chromebooks will pose something of a problem.

That being said, as most mobile devices are cloud-centric now anyway, you can still view many of your Apple files via www.icloud.com, and the same is true for Microsoft, thanks to the company’s continued expansion of its web apps for Office, Onenote, and Onedrive. Add this to the already impressive suite of Google’s own production apps, plus the likes of Dropbox, Evernote, and Spotify, and you don’t really feel like you’re missing out at all by using one of these devices. 

Internally the Dell Chromebook 11 squares up nicely to its rivals thanks to an almost standard compliment of components. The 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Celeron processor is the same Haswell technology found in the Acer C720 Chromebook and Acer C720p Chromebook, while the 16GB storage, 720p webcam, and integrated graphics are all fitted to pretty much every Chromebook at the moment.

Dell has upped the ante slightly by including 4GB of RAM, and 2 x USB 3.0 ports, giving its machine an edge in areas that users can actually see. Finishing off the hardware options are the ubiquitous HDMI and SD card reader slots.

In our speed tests the Dell Chromebook 11 bested pretty much every other machine in its class, admittedly by marginal figures in some cases, and we can’t help thinking that the RAM had a lot to do with it.  

Battery life was also very respectable with our looped movie test draining the power dry in just under seven and a quarter hours. This means that the Chromebook 11 should happily get you through a days normal work before you need to pop in the proprietary charger. 

Read next: Should I buy a Windows laptop or a Chromebook?

Dell Chromebook 11: Specs

  • 11.6in (1366x768) glossy TN display
  • 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U dual-core processor
  • Intel HD graphics
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB SSD (plus support for SD cards up to 16GB)
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • HDMI
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Kensington lock slot
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 720p webcam
  • 24x295x201mm
  • 1.3kg
  • 7 hrs 17 mins battery life
  • benchmark results: 465ms SunSpider, 2468 points Peacekeeper, 3732 points Browsermark
  • 11.6in (1366x768) glossy TN display
  • 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U dual-core processor
  • Intel HD graphics
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB SSD (plus support for SD cards up to 16GB)
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • HDMI
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Kensington lock slot
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 720p webcam
  • 24x295x201mm
  • 1.3kg
  • 7 hrs 17 mins battery life
  • benchmark results: 465ms SunSpider, 2468 points Peacekeeper, 3732 points Browsermark

OUR VERDICT

Dell’s debut offering is pretty much exactly what most people want from a Chromebook. It’s fast, easily portable, smart looking, features a great keyboard, and even manages to add in a few bells and whistles like the two USB 3.0 ports. If Google’s vision for a laptop fits your needs, then the Chromebook 11 will make you very happy.