• Dell Chromebook review: A mixed picture

    By Stuart Ulrich
    Technology Correspondent

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    The Dell Chromebook 3189: perfect for students, reasonably priced, and has a pleasant display- but isn’t for the style-conscious.

    The Dell Chromebook 3189, an 11” laptop running Google’s Chrome OS. Chromebooks have become popular within the education system throughout the last couple of years and the Dell 3189 follows the same route as its predecessors.

    Starting at £370 for the base model and ranging up to a reasonable £398, this 2-in-1 Chromebook will not break the bank, but will be a worthwhile investment for any freelancer.

    What are the features of the Dell Chromebook 3189?

    We tested the mid-range model by Dell. For a price of £384.29 you will get an 11” 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop, Intel® Celeron® N3060, 4GB memory and a 32GB eMMC hard drive.

    The Dell Chromebook 3189 looks plain, almost uninteresting, at first sight. The chassis is black plastic with a dark grey rubberised strip running around the entire outside for added protection against knocks and bumps.

    The 3189 is undeniably small for a laptop, a benefit for anyone having to carry it around for hours on end. At 12” × 8” × 1”, the 3189 will easily fit into nearly all bags and weighs in at 1.43kg – a very respectable weight for the size.

     Like most 2-in-1s available today, the 3189 can be transformed into a tablet by flipping the display completely behind the laptop.

    We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of ports on the 3189. A usual victim in the attempt to design a small device is the ports – whereas with the 3189, you will get two USB 3 ports, a full-sized HDMI port and an SD card reader.

    How did it perform?

    We watched the trailer for the upcoming Game of Thrones season eight and given its relatively low resolution of 1366 × 768, I was pleasantly surprised: the colours were bright and bold and performed just as well as any 1920 × 1080 display. 

    In tablet mode, the touchscreen functions work just as well as any tablet device on the market. 

    The display, however, is let down by the size of the bezels which provide a rather large, unappealing border around a surprisingly nice display.

    The keyboard and trackpad follow the same design and feel as the body of the laptop. Both are a simple black plastic, which we found too simplistic and somewhat unappealing.

    Aside from the aesthetic appeal, the keyboard and trackpad performed well. The keyboard is compact yet spaced enough to allow a decent gap between each key and has a solid, robust feel to it. 

    The trackpad is accurate and smooth enough to let your fingers glide across the surface and the lack of physical left and right buttons didn’t feel like a hindrance.

    The built-in webcam will not win you any photography awards. We found that the 720p camera could only take a dark and slightly distorted photo. We wouldn’t suggest using this camera for video conferencing either, due to the picture quality and the occasional stutter.

    The 3189 is redeemed by its battery life. You will have around nine hours of general web browsing time before needing to plug in and recharge. This is more than enough to see any freelancer through to the end of a working day and more.

    Three stars overall

    Overall, the Dell Chromebook 3189 is a great companion for any student or freelancer and well deserves three stars. The sturdy design, surprising display and port availability are sadly let down by the unappealing bezels, grainy webcam and the overall plasticky cheap feeling.

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