Dell's Inspiron 15R looks more expensive than it is thanks to the shiny, metallic-looking wrist rest and lid. It's more than a pretty face, though, managing to strike just the right balance between features and performance.
The 15R comes with 4GB of RAM and a 2.4GHz Core i5 450M processor which sped through our benchmarks, topping the charts in all our tests. It's powerful enough to handle most demanding tasks for some time to come. Its dedicated Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics chip is capable of playing modern 3D games, although it managed only 18fps in our demanding Call of Duty 4 test, so you'll have to settle for lower screen resolutions than the native 1,366x768 to achieve a playable frame rate.
Dell has managed to squeeze in a numeric keypad for fast data entry in spreadsheets. While keyboard is large with no undersized keys, the keys on the number pad are narrower. This led to a few typos until we got used to their small size, but overall, it's a good keyboard. The touchpad is large and accurate, but the buttons don't give quite as positive a click as we'd like.
Although the Inspiron's weight of 2.6kg means it's unlikely to be taken on the road regularly, its battery lasted just under three and a half hours. This is in line with most other 15in laptops at this price and is long enough to last most European flights, too. The screen tilts back quite far, so you can adjust it to the perfect angle on your lap.
Although the 15.6in widescreen display isn't the most dazzling we've seen, it's still reasonably bright. Both colour accuracy and contrast were good, although the glossy finish reflects your surroundings, which can be distracting. Viewing angles were a little tight, too, so colour accuracy can suffer unless you're looking square-on.
The Inspiron has four USB2 ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port for connecting fast external storage. There's plenty of storage, too, thanks to the 500GB hard disk, and you get both 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth.
We weren't expecting much from the built-in stereo speakers, but they're surprisingly loud and clear. The bass is weak, of course, so music fans will still need a set of external speakers or headphones to get the most from their music and movies.
The Inspiron 15R is a well-rounded laptop, thanks to its great performance and features for a reasonable price. If you want a 15in laptop with longer battery life and don't want to play 3D games, Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge 15" is our pick
|Review Date||2 Aug 2010|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-430M|
|Processor clock speed||2.27GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||IDT HD Audio|
|Viewable size||15.6 in|
|Graphics Processor||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, VGA|
|Total storage capacity||500GB|
|Optical drive model||LG GT10N|
|Optical drive type||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100|
|Wireless networking support||802.11b/g/n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo, xD|
|Other ports||1x eSATA|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Software included||Microsoft Works 9|
|Warranty||one year collect and return|