The Bottom Line
- Highly Customizable
- Excellent LED Backlit Display
- Vista Basic OS
- Smaller 4-cell Battery for Shorter Running Time
- Doesn't Support 802.11n Wireless Without Upgrade
- Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4200 Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 3GB PC2-6400 DDR2 Memory
- 160GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel GMA 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g Wireless
- Three USB 2.0, VGA, ExpressCard/34, 7-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.7" x 9.6" x 1.5" @ 5.8 lbs.
- Vista Home Basic, Works, McAfee Security Center
Guide Review - Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch Budget Laptop PC
Apr 14 2009 - Dell's Inspiron 15 offers a wide range of features from Dell's build to order business model. This means that many of the features of the system can vary from one model to the next. It also means that users can elect to choose different components from what Dell offers in one of their featured systems such as the one I reviewed offered for between $600 and $670.
One feature that is pretty much consistent among all the Inspiron 15 models is the 15.6-inch display. This display uses an LED backlit that gives the screen a much wider color gamut than most budget laptops. The screen does have a glossy coating that is becoming common but this tends to increase the amount of glare on the screen in certain lighting conditions. The graphics are driven by the Intel GMA 4500MHD that prevents it from really being used for 3D gaming but is sufficient for HD video.
Performance is pretty much on par with most budget laptops. Dell elected to use the Pentium Dual-Core T4200 processor that gives it a decent level of performance but it does fall short of the Core 2 Duo. At least Dell has included the faster PC2-6400 DDR2 memory instead of the slower PC2-5300 that many other companies use to save a little on costs.
Storage suffers a bit on the base Inspiron 15 models. While many companies start their budget laptops with 250GB hard drives, Dell packs in a 160GB drive that won't hold quite as much data or media files. This of course can be upgraded like most of the components in Dell's PCs.
The two other areas where the Dell suffers compare to the competition is in the wireless networking and software. Dell ships the Inspiron 15 with an 802.11b/g wireless that does not support 802.11n. This model also ships with Vista Basic that limits the potential use of the laptop. Both are recommended to be upgrades.