Apple vs Dell Laptops

The MaBook Air was my favorite laptop ...

... until I tried the Dell 2-in-1 laptop-tablet with a touch screeen

If you want an innovative laptop-tablet, Dell has it

By Harold Glicken

 

For several years I’ve gushed to friends over my MacBook Air. Light, stylish and fast, the Air satisfied  most of my mobile needs. But like other Apple products, it’s not cheap. The 13-inch model I have costs $1,200, with a 256-gigabyte solid state hard drive and 8 gigs of RAM. Its display is nothing short of breathtaking. The keyboard is backlit and the touch pad is sensitive.

But it doesn’t have a touch screen. Apple has introduced a sorta, kinda touch screen in its high-end MacBooks, but it’s not your teen-age son’s touch screen.

I like touch screens, but my budget is limited. I had no choice but to pay a visit to Dell.com, where I found the laptop of my dreams. Billed as a 2-in-1, the Inspiron I had to have has a 13.3-inch touch screen, a decent keyboard and the best touch pad I’ve ever encountered. A light tap opens applications. There’s no need to press down on the touch pad to get where you’re going. And you can just touch any area of the display to do whatever needs to be done when it's in tablet mode.

The neat part about the Inspiron 2-in-1 is that it’s 1. a typical laptop, and a nice one at that, and 2. it folds over to produce a beautiful tablet that can be positioned at any angle. At 3.77 pounds, the Inspiron 2-in-1, feels like a brick in tablet mode, but I got over that real fast.  Navigating a screen that is half-again as large as an iPad Air’s, I could do much more with the Inspiron. Watching movies didn’t require me to squint. Working on a Microsoft Word document was surprisingly fast. Of course, all the applications and features that are installed on the laptop part are right there in tablet mode.

Aside from the touch-screen, the Inspiron has a 256-gig solid state drive, 8 gigs of RAM and a 7th-generation i7 processor. Boot-up takes seconds. It handles running multiple applications or having multiple web pages open without slowing down. My desktop, which has 16 gigs of RAM and a solid-state drive should be that fast. The MacBook Air, which weights barely three pounds, has an i5 processor; still, it’s almost as fast as the Inspiron.

Then there’s price. The mid-level Dell I bought cost $600; 15-inch models and the top-of-the line XPS model can cost more than $1,000. A three-year warranty, with onsite service and Dell’s Premium Support, costs $169. Premium support is a must, since basic hardware warranty is terrible. A comparable three-year AppleCare warranty costs $249 for the MacBook Air and doesn’t include onsite repairs. Dell offers accident coverage for about $29 a year.

Both laptops have passable speakers, webcams and sturdy cases. The Dell has three USB ports, the MacBook has two. Both require external DVD drives. And both have high speed wifi built-in. In my tests, working with Word and Pages. surfing and playing part of a movie on Netflix, the Air ran for nearly 10 hours on a charge; the Dell lasted for about three hours.

 

The Air comes with the excellent Sierra operating system and apps for writing, preparing spreadsheets and  presentations, along with software for photo and video editing software and music composition. The Dell comes with Windows 10; you’re on your own for word processing and other office tasks.

So, which one to buy?

If money were no object, I’d get the Dell XPS 2-in-1 laptop, at upwards of $1,500 just for the near-borderless display and its light weight.  If money were an object, I’d get the mid-level Dell 5000 series 2-in-1. I’m using my Dell far more than I use my MacBook Air. But if I were taking a cross-country flight, for battery-life considerations I’d take the Air. So, I have the best of both worlds.

For more information, Dell.com and Apple.com.

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