The Bottom Line
May 7 2014 - Dell's 15-inch Inspiron budget model takes much of the design from past models but refines it slightly to improve its low cost offering. It is still the thinnest and lights of the 15-inch budget laptops on the market that includes a DVD burner but it now features a touchscreen to make navigating Windows 8 even easier. The one downside here is that the inclusion of the touchscreen means that it does not have as much performance as non-touchscreen laptops at this price point but for many looking at a basic PC, it won't matter. It is also nice to see Dell continue to offer more USB ports than other in this price range making for easy external expansion.
- Thin and Light for 15-inch Laptop
- Touchscreen Display
- Two USB 3.0 Ports
- Performance Lower Than Non-Touchscreen Models
- Intel Core i3-4010U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4400 Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, 6-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.8" x 10.2" x 1" @ 5 lbs.
- Windows 8.1
Review - Dell Inspiron 15-3537
May 7 2014 - Dell's Inspiron 15 3537 laptop is essentially an updated version of the Inspiron 15 3521 budget class laptop but with more recent processors and the inclusion of a touchscreen for the Touch version. The external shell of the system remains unchanged with its primarily plastic construction with textured exterior lid and keyboard deck to prevent smudges and fingerprints. It still keeps its thin one-inch profile even with the touchscreen and is lightweight at just five pounds for a full featured 15-inch laptop.
Rather than using a traditional laptop processor, Dell has decided to use a low power Intel Core i3-4010U dual core processor. This is the lowest level of the more recent Core i3 processors that are typically found in ultrabooks. They consume less power helping tp extend battery life but it does feature less performance. If you intend to use the computer primarily for browsing the web, watching media and using productivity software, it should do just fine. If you want something for photo editing, there are more powerful laptops out there. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory which provides a reasonably smooth experience in Windows 8 but the system can get bogged down when a large number of applications are open. Thankfully there are two memory slots which can allow the system RAM to be upgraded to 16GB if you are so inclined to spend the money.
Storage is fairly typical of many budget class laptops. It relies on a traditional hard drive with a 500GB capacity and a 5400rpm spin rate. This is pretty much the norm for almost every system priced under $500. This means it is not as fast as systems more expensive systems that use solid state drives but it does have the advantage of more storage capacity than a SSD based laptop. If you want to add more storage space, there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external hard drives. Actually, the Dell has four total USB ports which is more than the typical two or three you find in this price range. Even with its relatively thin profile and low cost, it still comes equipped with a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD and DVD media.
The big feature with this version of the Dell Inspiron 15 is that it comes with a touchscreen enabled 15-inch display. This makes navigating the Windows 8 operating system easier than relying on the trackpad alone but Microsoft has been addressing these issues. Of course the touchscreen panel means that it has a glossy protective coating that results in a fair amount of glare and reflections. Resolution is still your average 1366x768 that you see in budget class laptops so don't expect extreme detail levels and the color and contrast don't make it stand out any better than the non-touch screen laptops at this price point. With the move to the fourth generation Core i processor, the integrated graphics have been slightly improved to the Intel HD Graphics 4400. This still isn't a high performance graphics solution so it isn't really suited for PC games even at lower resolutions and detail levels unless that are older games. It does still provide acceleration for media encoding when using Quick Sync compatible applications.
Dell continues to use their isolated keyboard design with the Inspiron 15 3735 that also includes a full numeric keypad. It is nice to see the large keys on the left and right hand side for tab, shift, control, enter and backspace keys. Overall, the layout is quite good offering a nice level of comfort and accuracy. The trackpad is a large size and features dedicated left and right buttons but many people may not use them often as it does feature a multitouch display. If you are forced to use them, it offers good accuracy and support for multitouch gestures.
To keep the weight and size of the Inspiron 15 3537 down, Dell uses a slightly smaller 40WHr capacity battery pack. For the non-touchscreen model I looked at last year, this battery pack provided four and a quarter hours of digital video playback. This time around, the system ran for just under four hours with the touchscreen. This falls within the standard range for a budget class 15-inch laptop. Those looking for longer running times would probably need to invest in a more expensive ultrabook.
Pricing for the Dell Inspiron 15 3537 Touch model start right at $500. Sometimes it is possible to get the system for less with sales and incentives but it is unlikely to drop much as the touchscreen really does limit the pricing. Pricing for touchscreen laptops at this price point is not that uncommon. Some similar models include the Lenovo IdeaPad S400, MSI S12T and Toshiba Satellite C55Dt. The Lenvoo uses a similar Intel dual core processor with nearly identical specifications but a smaller 14-inch display. This means it is a slightly more compact and lighter but it also has one less USB 3.0 port. Sadly, its battery life is much lower. The MSI and Toshiba systems use the AMD A4 processor instead of Intel but both feature larger 750GB hard drives. The MSI is a smaller 11-inch system while the Toshiba uses a larger 15-inch display. Both also only feature a single USB 3.0 port.