The Bottom Line
Nov 8 2011 - Dell brings a very compact thin and light laptop that offers some solid features with the Inspiron 14z. This includes a very large hard drive and DVD burner in a very thin profile. Battery life is also one of the best among Windows based laptops. There are a number of annoyances that prevent it from being a superb 14-inch laptop though. The design while appealing is still just another MacBook Pro clone and the port covers are quite annoying to have to deal with. Finally, anyone wanting to also use it for 3D graphics will be disappointed by the Intel graphics.
- Large High Performance Hard Drive
- 8GB Of Memory
- Above Average Battery Life
- Integrated Graphics Only
- Port Covers Get In The Way
- Intel Core i5-2430M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 14-inch WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.6" x 9.7" x .9" @ 4.3 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Review - Dell Inspiron 14z
Nov 8 2011 - Dell's Inspiron 14z is based upon the XPS 15z but with a more compact and affordable design. It still uses aluminum on things like the lid but doesn't have as nice of a fit and finish as the more expensive XPS models. The keyboard uses the new isolated layout with backlighting that works very well although it does move the home, page up, page down and end keys on the right hand side that can take some getting used to. At least the backspace and enter keys are still sizable. The trackpad is a good size with dedicated right and left buttons that work well enough if a bit stiff. One annoyance with the design is all the ports that have covers on them that help make nice smooth lines for the design but get in the way when you need to use them.
Powering the Dell Inspiron 14z is a fairly typical Intel Core i5-2430 dual core processor. The processor does a good job at just about any task that one might have for it. It may not be as strong at some tasks or multitasking as the quad core i7 processors but the laptop is certainly much more affordable laptops packing them. Dell does help with multitasking though by providing 8GB of DDR3 memory that should make Windows 7 and programs a very smooth experience.
Storage features for the Dell Inspiron 14z are good for anyone that is looking to use this as a primary system. It offers a large amount of space for applications, data and media files thanks to the 750GB hard dive. in addition to the high capacity, the drive also spins at the 7200rpm spin rate. This gives it a bit more performance than most other drives than rely on 5400rpm drives. If this still isn't enough space for your files, it also comes equipped with two of the new USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage devices. A standard dual layer DVD burner is included for playback and recording of CD or DVD media which is uncommon on many competing laptops in this size range.
One of the big features of the Inspiron 14z is the 14-inch display. What makes it unique is the extremely narrow bezel that surrounds the LCD panel. This is one of the reasons that the laptop has its relatively compact dimensions. More importantly, it gives the screen almost the whole display area of the lid. Sure, it uses your typical glossy surface that makes it less than stellar for using outdoors but frankly this is common to almost all consumer laptops. The big downside is that most of the models use the Intel HD Graphics 3000 solution rather than a dedicated graphics available in the XPS version. This puts it in the same realm as the MacBook Pro 13. It certainly won't be used for much 3D gaming even at a casual level but it does at least make up for this by providing accelerated media encoding with QuickSync compatible applications.
Dell packs the Inspiron 14z with a typical six cell battery pack that features a slightly higher 65WHr capacity rating. In DVD playback testing, this was able to yield about three and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. This is very good for a Windows based laptop but still falls short of what Apple achieves with its MacBook Pro lineup but they do cost a lot more. Expect around six to six and a half hours of more typical usage.