Those who don’t place portability at a premium can find some pretty good deals in the notebook market these days, and Dell is one of the most high-profile companies to have focused a great deal on value for money for the modern consumer.
Its Inspiron 15z offers a range of impressive features, not least of which is the ultra low wattage Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.3GHz processor, which contributes towards a battery life of over eight hours. This should certainly come in handy for those who need a decent amount of longevity to work with on a commute, for example, and the widescreen 15.6-inch display certainly offers plenty in terms of physical workspace. Having said that, it is a little disappointing to note that it is only capable of 1366 x 768 resolution; we were hoping for a little more here to truly underline its ‘desktop replacement’ potential.
Elsewhere there’s 3GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive, DVD-RW optical drive and integrated graphics, though for an extra £100 it can be upgraded with an extra Gigabyte of RAM and 512MB ATI Mobility Radion HD4330, for those who would like it to double as a gaming machine or for more intensive graphics processing.
Dell has done a nice job with the design of the 15z, even if it appears to be rather simplistic at first glance. At 2.4kg it’s light for a notebook of this size and is also very slim at 26mm, though there is a bit of extra bulk added by the protruding battery pack at the rear, which doubles as an angled stand.
Inside, the full QWERTY keyboard is well laid out and very responsive – touch typists should have no problems adapting here – and the multitouch trackpad offers an added degree of versatility when working with documents and images. The 15z’s large size makes it comfortable to operate but we’re not sure why some of this space couldn’t have been used to house some shortcut controls, which are instead lumped onto the function keys as is becoming increasingly typical in this market.
A decent range of connectivity includes three USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA, HDMI and a 7-in-1 card reader, along with a 1.3-megapixel webcam and twin speakers, which can sound quite muffled as they are mounted at the bottom of the enclosure. It only offers 802.11b/g wireless by default, however, via Dell’s Wireless Mini Card, but does come bundled with Windows 7 Home Premium.
During our tests we were pleased with the general feel and performance of the Inspiron 15z. The display is impressive and is capable of clean colours and deep blacks that make the notebook a nice option for multimedia use. Videos look great in full-screen mode on the large display and, while it can’t quite stretch to modern games without an upgrade, it’s otherwise an excellent all-rounder with impressive battery life, lightweight design and a configuration that’s comfortable to use.
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