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If you’re looking for the best Chromebook for Linux, a great option is the Inspiron 11 Chromebook by Dell. Although it is mainly designed for running Google Chrome and Google web apps, this capable device can also run many Android applications or be set up to run Linux as well. Small in size and decent in performance, this Chromebook is an excellent choice for students.
The Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook is an affordable computer that runs on the N3060 processor, has 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal flash memory. As a popular brand, Dell has successfully made a device capable of competing with the Acer Chromebook in the K-12 Chromebook market.
Although it’s called the Dell Inspiron 11, this Chromebook actually sports an 11.6” display. The laptop has a TN display rather than an IPS display, so the viewing angles aren’t very good, but they should be adequate for work or basic usage. Unlike other models of the Dell Inspiron, this version does not come with touchscreen capabilities (if you want a touchscreen, check out the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630). The HD non-touchscreen is powered by an Intel HD Graphics 400 graphics card.
The 11.6” TN display of the Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook provides a semi-HD experience. The screen itself has a resolution of 1366 x 768, which puts it at “half-HD”, as opposed to “full HD”, which would be 1920×1080 pixels. The 1366 x 768 resolution is fairly common around this price point though, so it’s not a huge flaw, although we would have liked a better display. Still, for word processing and basic internet browsing, this display will work just fine.
Much like the touchscreen version of the Dell Inspiron 11, the non-touchscreen Chromebook has impressive battery life. You can expect to get around ten hours of use before the device needs to be charged again, so it will easily last a normal school day. The charger port on the side of the Chromebook is quite large, reducing the risk of it breaking from day-to-day use. It doesn’t have any quick-charging technology though, so if you want a device that will quickly charge, take a look at our Google Pixelbook i5 review instead.
Weighing in at 3.09 pounds, this Chromebook weighs about average compared to similar models. You can find models that weigh slightly less (or more), but the difference is so minimal we wouldn’t even consider it a relevant factor in most cases. The one advantage of the low weight is even people with small hands (like students) shouldn’t have any trouble holding onto the device, which reduces the chance of dropping the Chromebook. However, Dell did put some thought into that possibility as well, making the Inspiron 11 resistant to heavy use.
The Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook comes with a MIL-SPEC-rated case, which means the laptop will be somewhat resistant to impacts. The shockproof design, combined with curved corners, helps reduce the chance of damage to internal (or external) components of the Chromebook should it accidentally be dropped. Since students often have a drink nearby when working on their laptops, Dell made the wise decision of including a spill-resistant keyboard on the Inspiron 11, further reducing the likelihood of damaging the device.
Although it doesn’t offer any special extras like a mini DisplayPort or dedicated microphone input, the selection of inputs and outputs on the Inspiron 11 Chromebook should be more than adequate for most users. The lefthand side of the device has a power jack, a 3.5mm audio jack, an SD card reader, & a USB 3.0 port. The right side has a single USB 2.0 port. Internally, this device offers only 16GB of flash storage, which is disappointing considering the device costs nearly $400 (for 64GB of internal storage, check out the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 instead!).
Overall, the Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook is a well-made damage-resistant device that is perfect for students or other types of casual users. Although it is limited by a small amount of internal storage and a low-quality display, the Chromebook isn’t made for media consumption, so it should be more than adequate for use as a work or school computer for basic use.