Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) Review
The world seems to revolve around everything tech-related in the age we live in today. From enterprises and businesses to the whole education department, the focus has shifted towards the normalization of digital learning. To facilitate this grand prospect, manufacturers have started to make more purpose-oriented devices, and the Dell Chromebook 11 3100 series precisely fits that statement.
The US-based company is known for making robust and compact devices that settle for nothing less than the best standard. Let’s gauge whether the Dell Chromebook 11 is truly a compelling device or no more than a mere disappointment.
In this article, therefore, we’ll discuss the Dell Chromebook 11 (3100)’s major pros and cons, and review it in general. Without any further ado then, let’s get straight into the specifications of this laptop.
Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) Specifications
- CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 Dual-Core Processor
- Display: 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare Screen
- Hard Drive Size: 16 GB
- RAM: 4 GB
- Camera: Front-Facing 720p Webcam
- Ports: x1 USB-C, x2 USB-A, 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
- Weight: 2.85 pounds
- Price: $249
- Compact build quality
- Great I/O
- Minimalistic design
- Highly affordable
- No microSD card reader slot
- Substandard touchpad
- A bit too heavy
Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) In-depth Review
Dell Chromebook 11 (3100)
Taking into account the budget-friendly price tag of the Chromebook 11, one wouldn’t help but think of the device as cheap and low-class in quality. It turns out that the truth is far away from that stereotypical approach. This laptop is designed to withstand the rigor of children on a consistent basis. There are a couple of design-centric features that makes this Chromebook stand out in terms of durability and endurance. Its rounded edges are made to extend outwards to protect the USB ports from damage. In addition, the bottom of the device has rubber-type bumpers to cancel out most of the harm done by falls and drops.
That brings us to the overall resilience of this device. Coming from Dell, the strength of the Chromebook 11 is surely no joke. The strength-testing for this laptop is quite ahead of the basic MIL-STD standards. Dell assessed this Chromebook’s durability by dropping it onto steel from 30 inches and making it survive 5,000 free fall micro-drops. This is a device that’s intended for classrooms and homes teeming with children and taking that into consideration, it’s evident how Dell has made an inexpensive Chromebook that’s built to last several long years.
However, since the Chromebook 11 is reinforced with a highly secure all-plastic chassis, there is a price to pay here: weight. This device weighs almost 3 pounds, and this can seem a bit heavy for little ones running around the house or in classrooms. It does not make the device highly portable as well.
On a more positive note, the display is good-looking and above average. It definitely does not come off as cheap which was quite what we were expecting to be honest. The colors aren’t washed out, the viewing angles are all right as well, but make no mistake in acknowledging the fact that the display is limited to 1,366 by 768 resolution. For a sub $250 device, this can be overlooked any day of the week.
Coming down to the keyboard deck, the ruggedness continues throughout. Typing on it feels a bit tacky at first, but the experience generally improves over time. The deck is made firm and rigid though and high-quality is visibly apparent. The touchpad, however, isn’t received appreciably by the broad consensus. Customers complain that the touchpad of the Dell Chromebook 11 feels exceptionally stiff and can get problematic at times. In conclusion, it feels cheap and inferior to the rest of the device’s standard.
Shedding some light back on the plus side of this device, the I/O is fairly awesome. Save for a microSD card reader slot that this device could’ve really used, there’s an ample number of ports for all your data transferring and charging requirements. There’s a single USB-C port, two USB-A ports for legacy compatibility, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The front-facing 720p webcam snaps photos and videos in a bang-average manner – nothing too poor, but nothing too marvelous either. At the end of the day when you begin to factor in this laptop’s price for the features it has, you cannot restrict yourself to not buying it if you’re on a budget.
The design looks good, the build quality is great, but what about the performance? On paper, the Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) has 4 GB of RAM to rely on, a 16 GB hard drive size, and an Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core processor to power itself up. It turns out that this device dishes out enough horsepower for kids and school-goers to easily accomplish their tasks and get work done on time. As far as Chrome tabs and Google Play Store applications are concerned, this Chromebook can comfortably handle all that sort of stuff day in day out. However, given its price range, it’s a no-brainer not to expect anything extra from this middling Chrome OS.
The Chromebook 11 has multiple models to its name that you can get for paying a bit more than the original $249 mark. You can check out all its variants here. By getting the upgraded version, you’ll be having more hard drive storage. However, the internal storage or RAM stays the same no matter which model you get of the Chromebook 11. There’s also a 2-in-1 version of this Chromebook that has a touchscreen as well. The convertible version allows you to rotate the screen 360° and offer full-fledged flexibility to students.
The Chromebook 11’s most noteworthy downside in terms of performance is its lack of a strong Wi-Fi signal reception. The dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi struggles to connect if it’s not in the same room as the internet router. For devices whose bread and butter is internet connectivity, this could become a serious inconvenience. To tackle this problem, there’s an LTE-enabled version of the Chromebook 11 that you can buy. It does, however, make this device go out of budget, so you’ll have to decide accordingly.
Another factor that makes this Chromebook purchase-worthy is its stellar battery life that only a handful of competitors can dare stand up to. On a full charge, this device is bound to last you more than 10 hours, and this is, apparently, a handsome figure. Since it accommodates USB-C charging, you can expect the Chromebook 11 to fill up pretty fast, and get you going again momentarily.
Dell does claim that this device can reach up to 14 hours of battery life, but these numbers are difficult to achieve, especially if you’re streaming shows in HD quality with near-full brightness. It may be possible to hit somewhere around 12 hours with this device, but that would mean having to use it quite scarcely. Either way, the battery life of the Chromebook 11 has earned our nod of approval.
The Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) is an inexpensive yet remarkable option for teen students and kids alike. By blending in affordability and top-class build quality, there is a lot to love and very little to hate about this laptop. If you’re on a budget and are looking for something that will get the job done save for a few hiccups here and there, look no more than this little spark-maker.
Get yourself the Dell Chromebook 11 (3100) directly from the official Dell store today.
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review: Powerful and pricey
Dell’s 2-in-1 Chromebook was built with schools in mind, but don’t let that put you off if you simply want a durable, compact laptop for your business. Like other convertibles, it can morph between clamshell, tent and tablet positions, and while at 21mm deep and 1.41kg it’s a little chunky to pass off as a tablet, it still works well as one thanks to a sensitive touchscreen and an ergonomic design. What’s more, with its Gorilla Glass screen, spill-resistant keyboard and rubberised edges it’s incredibly tough. Dell claims it has been tested beyond normal MIL-STD standards, and we can believe it.
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Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review: Features
While it’s a small-screen Chromebook, with an 11.6in display, we can’t complain about its usability. The chiclet keyboard has a small left Shift key, but otherwise offers a great layout for such a small laptop, and the feel is crisp with decent feedback.
The trackpad isn’t as wide or as deep as you will find on other Chromebooks, but it’s smooth and responsive to all the crucial taps and swipes Chrome OS offers. It’s a good fit for busy students in crowded classrooms, but will work just as well if you’re doing quick edits on a document on your daily commute.
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review: Performance
The IPS screen has its ups and downs. As with most Chromebooks in this class, the resolution is just 1,366 x 768 and the gloss surface is very reflective, which can be hard work if you’re sitting next to a window, trying to watch dark scenes in a movie. It only covers 63% of the sRGB colour gamut and colour accuracy is poor, with an average Delta E of 5.65. Yet it’s brighter than other 11.6in Chromebooks, at 256cd/m2, and in most conditions, it looks richer and punchier than the figures make out. The sound isn’t too bad, either. It’s neither very warm nor very loud, but it’s clear without being painfully thin.
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Featuring a new-ish Celeron N4000 processor, with two cores capable of reaching speeds of 2.6GHz, plus 4GB of RAM, the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is the fastest 11.6in Chromebook on test, surging ahead of the Acer and Lenovo competition. Battery life is also impressive; it held on for nearly nine hours of video playback in our tests, so the average day shouldn’t be a problem.
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 review: Verdict
What might be, though, is the price. At over £500, it’s expensive for an 11.6in Chromebook, and while it has more speed and stamina than the Lenovo Chromebook 500e, the latter offers better value.
Buy now from Dell
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 Review
The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is a low power Chrome OS laptop designed for education. The rugged design is a key selling point that ensures it'll serve even the most accident-prone students, but its low end components mean anything but basic document editing and web browsing is beyond it.
- Virtually indestructible
- 360 degree hinge design
- OK battery life
- Screen is small and low res
- Keyboard could be better
- Review Price: £412
- 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 resolution touch screen with Gorilla Glass
- Intel Celeron N4000 CPU
- 4GB / 8GB RAM
- 32GB / 64GB storage
- Up to 13 hour battery life
- Chrome OS
Like similar education-focused Chromebooks before it, the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 unashamedly puts function over design and visual flare – it’s wrapped in chunky black plastic and has a 360 degree hinge, which lets you fold it into tablet or have it sat on your desktop, which feels solid and robust.
This combined package ticks enough boxes for the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 to be a solid choice for school kids in need of a borderline-unbreakable study aid. For older students and general laptop buyers, however, there are better value options available.
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 design – Built for punishment
The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is not the prettiest machine you’ll find, even by Chrome OS laptop standards. Opening up the clamshell, you’ll be treated to a giant 2cm bezel straight out of the 1990s, plastic chiclet keys and a chunky chassis with rubber edges.
But that’s intentional, as Dell’s built this convertible Chromebook to be as rugged as possible. Dell says that it meets MIL-STD specification, a standard set by the US military that you don’t normally see on a consumer products – the LG Gram 14 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 being other exceptions.
Dell says that the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 has been tested to survive 5000 micro-drops and 30-inch drops onto steel, so it ought to be tough enough to withstand classroom wear and tear. That said, the small-print on Dell’s website says that the standard warranty “does not cover problems resulting from accidents such as drops” – so keep that in mind.
It might not look like the nicest laptop ever, but the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 wasn’t designed to win beauty contests
It’s also why the Chromebook 3100 is so chunky and has rubberised sides – it’s literally got shock absorbers. During testing I found the Chromebook’s 360 hinge is particularly well built. It doesn’t look pretty, but it has a solid locking mechanism and offers next to no flex, even when met with moderate force.
The splash-resistant keyboard also continued working after an accidental office coffee spill. As a final test, having “accidentally” dropped it onto a hardwood kitchen floor and let a rampaging four year old use it as a WWE-style steel chair on one of her enemies (a parents’ unsuspecting leg) I can personally attest to the Chromebook 3100’s durability.
Despite it being designed to withstand a beating, the whole thing weighs just over a kilogram (1.41kg), so it’s light enough to be dropped into a backpack and carried around all day.
Dell’s also done a reasonable job loading the Chromebook with all the ports a typical schoolchild or student will need. Around its sides you’ll find two USB-C, two USB-A ports and a single microSD card reader – all you need for transferring files and photos.
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The keyboard doesn’t win any awards here, but it’s also basically the same as what you’d get on most other Chromebooks
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 specs – Basic hardware, but it does the job
So far so good? For the most part, yes. But be warned, outside of its ruggedness, the Chromebook is otherwise a very basic device and comes with a couple of compromises which hinder its usability as a day-to-day laptop.
Under the hood, the tech running the show is very basic, even when compared to equivalently priced Windows laptops, regardless of which of the configurations you pick.
This is largely because every option runs using a low powered Intel Celeron N4000 CPU. From there you have a choice of 4GB (in the case of the model we tested) or 8GB of LPDDR4 memory and between 34GB and 64GB of eMMC storage.
To non-techies, these are very low power parts. The light system requirements of Google’s Chrome OS mean general things, like web browsing and document editing, work just fine but even basic photo editing in Pixlr could cause the machine to stutter. This was reflected in the device’s Geekbench 4 scores, which put it on a par with an affordable smartphone when it comes to performance.
Chrome OS is great if you primarily use Google apps – like Google Docs and Google Sheets – as it offers a stripped down and streamlined interface that’s based around the tech giant’s services. There’s no need to fork out for Microsoft Office licenses here.
But, it is still limited compared to full fat Windows and won’t let you install third party apps. Everything has to be downloaded from the Google Play Store. I’m also not convinced Chrome OS takes full advantage of the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1’s touch screen functionality and tablet mode.
Most Chrome OS apps aren’t touch optimised. If you want to use it this way you’ll generally be better off installing an Android app from the Play Store, but this can be a risky gamble as not all the apps have been properly optimised and offer fairly buggy user experiences. Apps from smaller developers regularly crashed and I couldn’t even get Photoshop Elements to work to a satisfactory level on the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 during testing.
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One of the USB-A and USB-C ports of the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
Older buyers or students should also be aware that the device’s compact dimensions, small screen and less than stellar keyboard mean can make for an uncomfortable working experience during prolonged use.
As well as having a giant bezel, the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1’s screen offers a fairly low resolution of 1366 x 768, while most laptops these days will give you a Full HD (1920 x 1080) display.
The display’s brightness and battery life partially make up for this and reinforce its status as an education product. The 274 nits max brightness I detected during testing is good enough for the screen to remain legible in most conditions, outside of direct sunlight – in these conditions the Gorilla Glass coating can get fairly reflective.
Colour space coverage is also very low – 60.4% sRGB, 44% Adobe and 46% DCI-P3 – and the colour temperature I recorded – 7064K – is also way off the 6500K ideal. What this means in real terms is that the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1’s display is totally unsuitable for photo work.
Buyers of a laptop like this are unlikely to care about such findings, but they’re worth including, if only so you can see how good the display of something like the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 7000 2-in-1 is by contrast.
The chiclet keyboard also feels cheap to touch and is one of the only parts of the device that feels flimsy, offering poor travel and a spongy feeling actuation point. This is also typical of Chromebooks, and is not a failing of Dell, per se.
Running the Geekbench 4 battery benchmark, the Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 lasted around eight hours with the screen set to 150 nits brightness, the level most people will feel comfortable using in a classroom or lecture hall. This is quite a lot less than the quoted 13 hour battery life, but I found it performed noticeably better with real world use. With regular use I easily got a full nine-to-five work day out of the machine with change to spare without having to reach for the charger.
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The 360 hinge of the Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is one of the sturdiest we’ve seen
Should I buy a Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1?
If you’re looking for a rough, tough Chromebook for your kid to take to school, or are an accident-prone student in need of an essay writing station that won’t break anytime soon, then the Dell 3100 2-in-1 is an OK option.
Outside of the keyboard, the device feels close to indestructible, is powerful enough for basic essay writing and web browsing, and has a long enough battery life to last a full school day.
The only downside is that it’s screen is a little on the small side and it’s low power components mean it can struggle with even basic photo editing. The £400-plus price is also fairly high for a Chromebook. If you don’t need the rugged design there are better value options in both the Chrome and Windows ecosystems.
The Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 is strong and sturdy, but it’s also very basic.
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Put To The Test—Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
If you’re looking for a Chromebook that does more than the basics yet doesn’t bust the budget, Dell’s Chromebook 3100 2-in-1 system provides a lot of computer for the money. It can not only work as a traditional notebook or tablet, but its rugged design means that it will likely be around for a long time.
A traditional convertible design, the Chromebook 3100 has three distinct computing personas: it can be a keyboard-centric notebook for typing papers or taking exams, but flip the screen over the back and it’s a tablet or stop halfway and the system can stand on its own for small group interaction or viewing videos. There’s also a more traditional non-convertible Chromebook 3100 that costs $50 less.
Built around a rounded plastic case, the Chromebook 3100 weighs in at 3.1-pounds and occupies 11.5- by 8.0-inches of desk-space. At 0.9-inches, it is a few ounces heavier and significantly thicker than Samsung’s Chromebook Plus, despite having a smaller 11.6-inch touch screen that shows 1,366 by 768 resolution versus the Chromebook Plus’s 12.2-inch higher resolution 1,920 by 1,200 display.
The screen worked fine with up to 10 fingers at once or a generic stylus, but the system lacks and active stylus for precise drawing and notetaking. Dell plans to add a model this Spring that includes a stylus, but the $29 pen won’t work with existing Chromebook 3100 models.
To put it lightly, the Chromebook 3100 has been designed to stand up to abuse. It uses Gorilla Glass and passed 17 of the military’s stringent Mil-Std 810G criteria for ruggedness and the system survived drop tests from as high as 48-inches, 12-ounce spills onto its keyboard and 40,000 opening cycles for its hinge. In other words, it stands a legitimate chance of outlasting just about every other piece of classroom technology.
In an age where, phones, tablets and notebooks are glued together and not easy to service, the Chromebook 3100 is a blast from the past. Held together by nine screws, it’s one of the easiest Chromebooks to repair and upgrade. For instance, it takes a few minutes to get inside replace a component, like the battery.
Its 19.2mm keys feel good on the fingers and I was able to type quickly and accurately. Unfortunately, like the X2, the Chromebook 3100 lacks backlighting that might help in a darkened classroom.
Powered by a Celeron N4000 dual-core processor, the Chromebook 3100 normally runs at 1.1GHz but can go as fast as 2.6GHz, when needed. It includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of local solid-state storage as well as two years of 100GB of online storage on Google’s servers. With a micro-SD card slot that can accommodate up cards that hold up to 256GB, it is a system that can hold a student’s entire middle- or high-school education.
As far as connectivity goes, the Chromebook 3100 is a mix of old and new with two USB-C ports, either of which is used for charging the system, as well as two traditional USB 3.0 ports. The system has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in and connected easily with everything from several wireless networks to a keyboard, speaker and a BenQ projector (using a generic USB-C to HDMI adapter).
The system’s two cameras cover the territory well, regardless of whether they’re used for a keyboard-based notebook in an online parent teacher videoconference or taking pictures of the school’s basketball game. While the Web cam produces images of just under a megapixel, in tablet mode, the world-facing camera can capture 5-megapixel stills and videos.
It may not be a power system, but it performed well over three weeks of daily use, and never let me down in a series of educational endeavors. The Chromebook 3100 scored 425 and 800 on Geekbench 5’s series of single- and multi-processor tests. That’s a 15 percent performance improvement over the more expensive Samsung Chromebook Plus with a faster Celeron 3965Y dual-core processor.
As powerful as it is, the Chromebook 3100 is a battery miser, running for 12 hours and 40 minutes of viewing YouTube videos with short hourly breaks. That’s an extra 40 minutes of use compared to the Chromebook X2. It will likely translate into a full day of work at school with enough time leftover at the end of the day for gaming or homework.
In a series of mock classroom situations, I used the system ChromeOS apps like
Desmos Graphical Calculator, Adobe’s SketchPad and Google Docs as well as Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Regardless of whether parents or the school purchases them, I’m convinced that the Chromebook 3100 should be able to take its place next to other Chromebooks at school.
Inexpensive, rugged and adaptable to different teaching and learning situations, the Chromebook 3100 can stand up to punishment at school while saving a few bucks along the way.
Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1
Fold-over convertible design
Low resolution screen
No stylus included
3100 review chromebook
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