The Bottom Line
- Solid Performance From Core i3 Processor
- Comfortable Keyboard
- Includes eSATA Port
- Below Average Battery Life
- Very Narrow Display Viewing Angle Causes Color Washout
- Heavier Than Average 14-inch Laptop
- Intel Core i7-370M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 3GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 320GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel GMA 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Three USB 2.0, eSATA, HDMI, VGA, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.5" x 9.7" x 1.3" @ 5 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Guide Review - Dell Inspiron 14R 14-inch Budget Laptop PC
Oct 9 2010 - Dell offers a wide variety of versions for the new Inspiron 14R but the best value is probably their $600 model that uses the Intel Core i3 dual core processor. In fact, it uses the new Core i3-370M model that offers a twelve percent clock increase over the base i3-330M model. This gives it some solid performance especially over the more budget oriented $500 Inspiron 14R with the Pentium P6100 processor. Dell does shortchange consumers slightly by providing only 3GB of memory instead of 4GB like much of the competition but this will only impact users who multitask frequently or use very memory intensive applications.
Storage features on the Inspiron 14R are fairly typical of a budget laptop. It comes with a 320GB hard drive that provides a fair amount of storage space for applications, data and media. It spins at the standard laptop 5400rpm rate to give it modest performance. A dual layer DVD burner handles all playback and recording of CDs and DVDs. Also included is a 7-in-1 card reader that handles most of the popular flash media cards.
The 14-inch display on the Inspiron 14R helps keep the system more compact than the traditional 15-inch display used by many low cost laptops yet still retains the 1366x768 native resolution. It features a glossy display that offers some bright and colorful images. The problem is that the colors quickly wash out by moving just slightly outside of the optimal viewing angle. This is a big problem if the laptop will be used by multiple people for viewing media or even if it is just placed at an odd angle to the user. The graphics are driven by the standard Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics solution. This is fine for basic 2D work and HD media viewing but it lacks and significant 3D performance for even casual 3D gaming.
Dell's Inspiron 14R uses a fairly typical six cell battery pack common to many budget oriented laptops but for some reason it fell short for running times. In DVD playback tests, the laptop was only able to run roughly two and a quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is fifteen to thirty minutes below many other similarly priced laptops with six cell battery packs. More typical usage should yield another forty-five minutes for roughly three hours of use.
The Inspiron 14R looks and feels quite different from the company's Inspiron 14 model. It certainly feels sturdier thanks to a magnesium alloy chassis. The downside is that the laptop carries a five pound weight that is heavier than many other 14-inch based laptops. The keyboard also uses a new design that is very comfortable and easy to type on. The trackpad is also quite large and features distinct right and left mouse buttons unlike many new laptops that feature a single rocker bar.