Product Review: Dell Laptop

8 Apr 2008

These days technology is as much about lifestyle and self-expression as it is about functionality and nowhere is this more apparent than in Dell’s latest TV advertisement for its range of Inspiron Colours laptops.

A rancher uses his green Dell laptop while snakes writhe in the background; an evil villain dressed head to toe in black laughs manically with his matching laptop sitting on his knees; a groovy soul brother relaxes with his hot pink model as rock music pulses in the background.

If this montage of super-cool scenes doesn’t whet your appetite for Dell’s new-found interest in lifestyle technology, then perhaps its balance between affordability and innovation will prove a valid selling point.

Dell has always been known for providing good-quality, entry-level desktops and laptops but the Inspiron 1520 is definitely a step above.

A 15.4-inch widescreen display with TrueLife technology and HDMI high-definition output makes for good movie viewing, although there is no option to add a Blu-ray drive.

Testing movies both on DVD and through clips from YouTube, I found the screen exceptionally bright and clear and the widescreen format made for a passable popcorn experience at home.

The chassis of the Inspiron is quite slimline, while also providing a multitude of I/O (input/output) ports through four USB ports, an 8-in-1 memory-card reader and an ExpressCard slot.

But strangely, although the design is compact, the laptop itself feels quite heavy. I’m not sure if I would be inclined to carry this around, in comparison to an ultra-lightweight device like the Apple MacBook Air.

On the other hand, the laptop is slowly replacing the desktop in the home as the main computer, which makes sense given the increasing computing power packed into such a portable device.

This laptop would make an ideal family purchase as it is a good all-rounder. You can easily see dad watching movies, while mum uploads and edits all the digital snaps and the kids get a good gaming experience to boot.

However, battery power for this standard functionality is always a bone of contention for laptop users. I didn’t have to test the Inspiron battery to its limits because a friend of mine had just purchased a deep blue model.

Gaming is her passion, especially tactical strategy games like Age of Empires, which will give any laptop battery a run for its money as the graphics and artificial intelligence consumes a lot of power.

The Dell Inspiron’s battery kept going strong for over an hour and a half during the game and my friend observed that it lasted much longer when performing regular tasks like surfing the web or listening to music.

One drawback to the device is the beautifully coloured tops scratch easily: I can foresee a heavily tarnished lid after a few months if the owner does not purchase a good laptop cover.

The Inspiron also has essential wireless functionality coupled with built-in Bluetooth, so no need for lugging around too many cables. Any extras such as a mouse can be paired through Bluetooth, with Wi-Fi handling internet access. Overall, it’s a good buy.

Pros: Good looks, great screen
Cons: A bit heavy
Price: Starting from €549

The Inspiron Colours laptop can be bought from PC World stores nationwide and from the Dell website.

By Marie Boran