I was hoping to get my hands on a pink Dell Inspiron 1520, so was a little disappointed when a black one arrived at Toybox headquarters, but I guess I can’t have everything. Dell is not holding back on the colour options here, giving buyers eight different colours to choose from, including sunshine yellow, espresso brown and flamingo pink.
The Inspiron 1520 looks like any old laptop from the outside (maybe I would have felt differently had it been a pink one), but, once I opened it, I immediately took to its silver-coloured insides, its rounded corners and its general lack of unnecessary detail. There are just two buttons above the keyboard — the power button and a shortcut to Dell’s media centre, called MediaDirect.
Multimedia buttons are located on the front panel, allowing one to use them while the notebook is closed. The speakers — of average quality — are also located on the front. I also liked the magnesium-alloy casing, which is built to withstand tough conditions and scratching.
The Inspiron 1520 is quite big and heavy for a laptop — weighing-in at 3.3kg and measuring 360 x 290 x 40mm, including the extended 9-cell battery, which protrudes out the back in a not very appealing way.
The machine sports a bright and glossy 15-inch screen. The Dell factory allows a choice of resolution — 1280 x 800, 1440 x 900 or 1680 x 1050.
Toybox’s review unit came with Windows Vista Home Premium and was equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor and 2GB of memory. As is usual with Dell, buyers can pick and mix processors, RAM and size of hard drive. There are also two graphic-card options — either the nVidia GeForce Go 8400M or the 8600M.
The 1520 model comes with a built-in, optional 2-megapixel webcam, for taking ego-photos, recording films and for video chat. For me, this will definitely be a requirement when I come to buy my next laptop.
The machine also has four USB ports, integrated 10/100 LAN and 56K modem,
8-in-1 memory card reader, VGA video output and S-Video, stereo in, headphone/speaker out, and an ExpressCard slot. It also features what Dell calls its
wi-fi Catcher technology, which is designed to search out the strongest wireless signal, without the need to open or power-up the notebook.
There is no HDMI output, however.
To sum up, the Inspiron provides a lot of computer for the money. And the colour options are an added bonus — at least for customers like me.
The Inspiron costs from $1,249 delivered, with the T5250 processor, 1GB of memory, 160GB hard drive and a 1280 x 800 display. Toybox’s review unit would cost around $2,230 delivered.