Although the creator laptop segment falls in the ultra-high-end segment, its market potential is huge, especially with the surge in young digital creators. While the choices available in the “pro” segment are growing, brands like Dell have started to realise that they need to offer options that cater to budding creators who aren’t willing to spend big bucks on top-tier hardware. The new Inspiron 16 Plus is designed to meet the needs of such customers but without sacrificing the raw performance expected from a creator-centric notebook. There is a lot to like about Dell’s entry-level creator laptop, provided you know its merits and demerits. Here’s my review of the Inspiron 16 Plus.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus price in India (as reviewed): Rs 1,29,989
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review: Design and aesthetics
When I started using the Inspiron 16 Plus, its design gave me a mixed feeling. But then I realised not every laptop has to look different. The Inspiron 16 Plus is a well-built device, but it’s not exactly a thin and light laptop. The metal-clad notebook is on the heavier side, weighing in at 2.1 kg. But then creator laptops are slightly larger and heavier due to beefy internals. The good news is that the Inspiron 16 Plus fits into my Samsonite backpack, which is designed to hold a 15″ laptop, without any issues. The Mist Blue colour scheme of the Inspiron 16 Plus may look dull to some but I am glad the notebook isn’t available in traditional silver or grey colour options. The sides of the Inspiron 16 Plus are now diamond cut which gives the notebook a more polished look.
Let’s talk about the ports, shall we? For content creators, especially if you are a photographer and a graphic designer, ports and connectivity matter. Functionality always comes before the form. This notebook has every essential port needed by a content creator including an HDMI port, one USB Type-A port, and one Thunderbolt 4 port, an SD card slot, one USB Type-A port, and a headphone jack. Wireless connectivity includes an Intel Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth support.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review: Display and speakers
I was really excited when I opened the Inspiron 16 Plus for the first time and saw the larger display. It’s impressive to see how Dell managed to cram a 16-inch display with a slimmer border in a case that is not much bigger than a 15-inch laptop size.
The 16-inch notebooks are slowly gaining traction among “pro” consumers and there is a reason why this trend is here to stay. Many professional users will appreciate the Inspiron 16 Plus’ display. The 16-inch screen is beautiful. It has a resolution of 3072 by 1920 pixels that translates to a 16:10 aspect ratio. Jumping from 16:9 to 16:10 makes a huge difference.
Everything looks better, be it working on a spreadsheet, editing photos, or watching a movie. Images on the screen will look more natural and colors literally pop up. The display supports 300 nits of brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, 100 per cent sRGB color coverage, and Dolby Vision for HDR content. Of course, the display on the Inspiron 16 Plus is nowhere close to Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro or Asus’ ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED, but then those laptops cost a lot. Although I am not too concerned about the lack of touch capability on the Inspiron 16 Plus, I wish the display had a high refresh rate.
Laptop speakers are usually underwhelming but not anymore. A lot of premium Windows notebooks launched in the past few months have excellent onboard speakers. The speakers on this notebook are loud and clear with good separation, perfectly fine for listening to music, watching a movie, or attending video calls. Sure, the bass is underwhelming but the speakers deliver improved sound quality. The Inspiron 16 Plus’ 720p webcam is serviceable but nothing to rave about. The webcam does a fine job, but it’s high time premium laptops like these come with 1080p webcams. Unfortunately, Dell did not add an IR-enable Windows Hello camera. Windows Hello login is supported with a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review: Keyboard and trackpad
Typing on this laptop feels great. As someone who types for hours every day, the importance of a good keyboard is paramount. It took me a while to adjust to the keyboard, but I must say I really enjoyed my time typing on the Inspiron 16 Plus. The keyboard layout is very standard, though the keys are well spaced and have a good amount of travel. To my surprise, there is a dedicated number pad on the right, which is always useful. The touchpad, on the other hand, is not only gigantic but feels clicky and responsive.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review: Performance and battery life
The Inspiron 16 Plus uses Intel’s 11th-generation H-series Tiger Lake processors, the company’s first consumer 10nm processors. The base variant of this notebook (the one I got for review) uses an 11th Generation Core i7-11800H processor with 16GB RAM and a 512GB of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. It is also packing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Everything is soldered on, meaning you cannot upgrade anything on your own. So make sure you opt for the configuration you really need, keeping the long-term usage in mind. Thankfully, the PCLe 4.0 slot supports drives with capacities of up to 2TB.
Speaking of performance, the notebook can handle my most rigorous days of work – dozens of Google Chrome tabs open, communications apps such as Teams and Zoom, and editing software without any trouble. Thanks to the GeForce RTX 3050, you can use this machine to play AAA PC games or do video production. But, of course, this notebook has a limit and isn’t designed for heavy-duty content creators.
Battery life is impressive, given the notebooks packs in a 3K display and a dedicated graphics card. Using the notebook with the screen brightness set to 50 per cent, I was able to get eight hours of battery life. Of course, battery performance will vary when running more demanding graphics and video software.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus review: Should you buy it?
The Inspiron 16 Plus proves there is a market for professional laptops that are squarely aimed at budding content creators. This is not the ultimate content creator machine and Dell isn’t claiming that way. Notebooks like these weren’t highlighted previously by the brands, so it was a bit of a surprise when Dell sent the Inspiron 16 Plus to review. A device like the Inspiron 16 Plus comes with a lot of superior features like a 3K display, excellent built and mid-level graphic cards along the promise of better performance and extended battery life without costing much. I see the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus is squarely aimed at Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 processor.