On the right side, you'll find an SD card reader, a USB 3 port and a Noble Lock slot. The left side contains two more USB 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, HDMI out and a USB Type-C port, which you can use to charge the laptop or connect to high-speed peripherals and docks.
The Inspiron base model, 1080p touch screen is one of the dimmest and dullest we've ever tested. When I watched a trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, the deep red in Thor's cape, which stands out on most laptop screens, appeared as a muddy reddish-brown. Other colors, like the purple on a statue and the green in Hulk's skin, were flat and lifeless. Colors began to fade even more at viewing angles as narrow as 45 degrees. The glossy surface on the screen made it even harder to look at the screen under the overhead lights in our office.
The Inspiron's dark display registered a dismal 148 nits of brightness on our light meter, which is the fifth-lowest score we've ever recorded and over 100 points less than the mainstream laptop category average (256 nits).Dell claims that the screen is rated for 220 nits, so even if the panel hit this optimistic number, it would still be dark. Considering that this laptop starts at $849, screen quality this poor is completely unacceptable and disqualifying.
Dell plans to sell the Inspiron with an optional 4K screen that promises over 350 nits of brightness, but that configuration wasn't available yet at publication time.
The Inspiron i5 5578 7th Gen provides rich audio that's loud enough to fill a medium-size room. When I played AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock, We Salute You," I could hear a clear separation of sound between vocals on one side and percussion on the other. Better still, sound was accurate and layered, without the distortion we see on so many mainstream laptops. If you're not happy with the default sound, the included Waves MaxxAudio software gives you fine control over the equalizer settings.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Inspiron i5 5578 7th Gen keyboard offers a mediocre typing experience, due to a combination of shallow travel and a sharp front lip that chafed my wrists during testing. The keys have just 1.08 millimeters of vertical travel, which is far less than the 1.5 to 2mm we hope to see on a mainstream laptop and, considering that the Inspiron is a normal thickness, there's no reason Dell couldn't have added more depth. On the bright side, the keys feel pretty responsive and require a strong 79 grams of force to actuate (65 to 70 is typical).
Because of the reasonable feedback and solid key spacing and layout, I was able to achieve a speed of 108 words per minute, which is on the high-end of my typical performance. However, after a minute of high-speed typing, my fingers felt sore and my wrist felt irritated.
The 4.1 x 3.1-inch button less touch pad has a pleasant surface that provided just the right amount of friction as I navigated around the desktop, clicked on icons and highlighted text. It responded accurately to multitouch gestures such as three-finger swipe, but I noticed occasional lag when I used pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scroll.