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I tested Dell's most underrated laptop and it has clever features at an accessible price

Dell's Inspiron 14 Plus 7440 succeeds at being a great work laptop thanks to its hi-res display, solid performance, and comfortable-to-use design.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer
Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The new Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 7440 starts at $1,000 and is potentially one of the best travel laptops on the market today.
  • Its Meteor Lake processor delivers solid performance, and the laptop's lightweight, durable design is coupled with some comfortable quality-of-life features.
  • The display is not exceedingly bright, and the downward-facing heat vents may be uncomfortable for some users.

The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 7440 is a lightweight and portable laptop that doesn't have one major standout feature, but instead a lot of smaller, nice quality-of-life touches. Ultimately, this is a comfortable laptop designed for all-day use, even if you're not a fan of all of Dell's design choices here.

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First off, most of its body is made out of a combination of aluminum and recycled steel, giving it a tough exterior. This is a level of durability that ensures it will survive the bumpiest of rides. Despite the durable material, this is not a heavy laptop, clocking in at about 3.5 lbs for easy carrying.

View at Dell

For the keyboard, Dell made several interesting choices. The individual keys are large and made of a soft, springy material that feels good to use, even after long periods of typing. One of the downsides to rubbery keys like these is they can often feel a little "mushy". But the keyboard on the Inspiron 14 Plus is built with a slight spring in each key to compliment the squishiness. Having this haptic feedback makes typing on the laptop feel engaging. It's a small touch, yet goes a long way.

In fact, it's these subtle touches that seem to be a common theme for the Inspiron 14. Case in point: the edges of the laptop's palmrest are round instead of angular. This design choice goes a long way in making the typing experience comfortable, as you won't feel any sharp edges poking into you. 

And speaking about comfort, the mylar touchpad is generously sized as well. Your hands won't cramp up while browsing the internet, especially when compared to other laptops with small touchpads. It even supports multiple hand gestures. Pinching it, for example, lets you zoom in on a window.

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Looking at the display, the Insprion 14 Plus comes with a 14-inch 2.2K resolution screen (or 2.8K if you opt for the better display at checkout). The display looks great for a laptop, even if it isn't mindblowing. Colors are vibrant enough, and you can expect them to have crystal clear clarity. 

The Inspiron 14 Plus doesn't have image-enhancing features like Dolby Vision, but it is TUVRheinland Certified, meaning it doesn't output a lot of harmful blue light, reducing the likelihood of eye irritation after staring at the screen for hours. My only note for this display, however is that it isn't very bright. It peaks at 300 nits, making it difficult to see under sunlight, and the anti-glare coating doesn't help all that much.

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Performance is solid. Inside the machine is an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H alongside an Intel Arc graphics card. Speaking from experience, you can expect this laptop to handle light to semi-intense workloads with ease. Examples of these include consuming multimedia, internet browsing, and work-related programs. I point out "light to semi" workloads specifically as the Arc GPU might struggle with extremely demanding tasks such as video editing.

Battery life is pretty good as well. The Inspiron 14 Plus can over eight hours on a single charge; long enough to handle a whole day's work. I should mention that in my testing, there didn't appear to be much difference between putting the laptop on the Balance or Best Power Efficiency battery modes; The laptop lasted about the same amount of time on both.

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I do have an issue with some of Dell's design choices here, namely the placement of the downward-facing heat vents and speakers. Positioning the heat vents at the bottom is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when it comes to use case practicality, as I like to do my work on my lap. With the vents pointing down, my legs become uncomfortably warm as they get blasted by all the hot air. Secondly, I'm not a fan of the speaker placement. They too, are on the bottom of the laptop, resulting in somewhat muffled audio. This isn't optimal, in my opinion, especially because with these drivers, the audio would otherwise sound great for a laptop.

ZDNET's buying advice

While the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 7440 lacks the bells and whistles seen on higher-end models, it excels at being a reliable machine with some nice touches. The laptop offers on-the-go professionals a hi-res screen, decent battery life, and solid performance. Yes, the poor placement of the heat vents may disappoint some, but they're worth putting up with considering what you're getting in return.

Prices for the model start at a very reasonable $1,000, a solid deal for what you're getting here. You can opt for a 2.8K display and 32GB of RAM which bumps the cost up to $1,200.

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