Dell’s Inspiron line of mid-end laptops has received a major upgrade with the release of the 15R. Nearly everything about the Inspiron series has been reworked. The low-budget black box design is gone, replaced with a stylish fake-brushed-aluminium chassis, which is thankfully resistant to smudges and fingerprints. The internals have received a major upgrade as well, boasting impressive performance for a mid-range laptop.
This can be attributed to the 15R’s powerful Intel Core i5 430M chip, and a generous 4GB of RAM. This makes it suitable for almost any task. People looking for a work laptop will find it more than fast enough and able to handle considerable multitasking. The integrated keypad and large touchpad are nice as well. Those looking for a general-use machine will enjoy its high performance, the reasonably large 15.6-inch screen, and the rather generous 500GB of hard drive space. Last and not least, gamers will find it’s able to run a wide variety of games rather smoothly.
All this is backed up by an ample supply of ports around the side, including HDMI for connecting to larger displays.
There is also a decent enough 1.3 megapixel camera mounted in the lid. What sets this apart is the inclusion of software that allows the user to login via facial recognition. It is smart enough to ignore photographs of a legitimate user, though it can sometimes be tripped up by changes in lighting conditions. It is a gimmick, but a gimmick that is surprisingly useful.
Dell’s website claims that the 15R has over four hours of battery life. This might be true if you leave it in sleep mode, but unfortunately it gets cut sharply down to around two hours during day-to-day use. Its power comes at another cost as well – the DVD drive and cooling fan are quite noisy in operation.
PROS: A powerful and stylish laptop with a spacious screen, more than enough hard drive space, and great performance. Suitable for a wide variety of tasks.
CONS: Disappointing battery life, a noisy fan and poor-quality speakers.
VERDICT: The latest instalment in the Inspiron line is reasonably future-proofed and will meet most users’ demands. If you are looking for a new laptop, the 15R is definitely worth a look.