If you're looking for a mid-range Dell laptop, the range now includes the brand new Inspiron R, as well as XPS and Alienware laptops. So how does the value stack up?
If Dell's your brand of choice, you're faced with a lot of decisions to make. The latest model in the Dell laptop range is the new Inspiron R, which features a choice of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, 15in and 17in screens, and a brushed metal finish in a choice of colours.
Bang for buck: Inspiron R vs Studio XPS vs Alienware
It's well worth stacking the new line up against existing models. We've taken the basic price of the top-end 15" Inspiron R - at the time of writing $1,499 from Dell's Web site - and applied it to Dell's other major laptop lines to see what that kind of money can buy you.
We've compared the base line specifications of the Inspiron R against similar Dell models in the company's Studio XPS and Alienware lines. While each purports to serve a different market niche, at the end of the day they're all Windows laptops. What differences does picking a different line really make at the same kind of price point?
Pricing is a tricky issue to pin down exactly with Dell, as it offers deals that can vary widely in value and discounts on a week-by-week basis. For that reason, we've gone with the base line systems across all choices. All prices and specifications quoted were as per Dell's own configuration utility at www.dell.com.au on the 30/4/10.
There's something to like about each of these laptops, but in a comparative sense the Inspiron R fares quite well.
The Dell Studio XPS 16
The similarly priced XPS 16's biggest claim to fame has to be the lush 15.6" 1080p-capable screen, making it a decent choice for those who want high quality video presentation, but otherwise its ordinary Core2Duo processor fares poorly.
The Dell Alienware M11x
The Alienware M11x's impresses us with the options of graphics switching to preserve battery life and a meaty 8-cell battery, but is let down by the omission of an optical drive and the fact that you're only staring at an 11.6" display screen.
Even amongst the gaming crowd that Dell's Alienware line targets, as we noted in our First Look we're not sure that's going to be enough.
The Dell Inspiron R
Dell is touting its new Inspiron R laptop range as (and we're quoting here, so forgive the marketing-speak) "a great choice for anyone who wants to easily access personal files and securely share photos and videos wirelessly. It is also the ideal mobile personal entertainment hub, offering smooth video playback, surround sound and a built-in Webcam."
For essentially the same price as its siblings, the Inspiron R sports a Core i5 processor, which isn't top of the line but should be quite adequate for most processing tasks. The same is true of the 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 and 5400RPM 640GB hard drive.
One thing we did find surprising with the Inspiron R line was that, at the time of writing, we weren't able to specify much in the way of optional components. Dell's currently offering only the one processor, screen and memory choice for this particular line, so those wanting this kind of system but with a little tweaking may wish to look elsewhere.
Still, at the current pricing, there's a fair bit to like about the Inspiron R 15" against the XPS and M11x lines. It's got a larger screen than the M11x, a more powerful processor than either line offers and more memory to boot. At this price point, that gives it a lot of appeal
|Model||Dell Inspiron 15R
||Dell Studio XPS 16
||Intel Core i5-430M Processor (2.26Ghz, 4 Threads, Turbo Boost up to 2.53 GHz, 3M cache)
||Intel Core2 Duo Processor P8700 (2.53GHz/ 1066 FSB/ 3MB Cache)||Intel Core 2 Duo Processor SU7300 (1.3GHz/800MHz FSB/3M Cache)|
||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
||15.6 Widescreen HD WLED Glossy Display with TrueLife (1366x768)||15.6 " 1080p WUXGA (1920x1080) WLED Full HD Display w/ 2MP cam||11.6" WideHD 720p WLED (1366x768) Display Integrated 1.3 mega pixel web cam|
||6GB (1 X 2GB + 1 X 4GB) 2 DIMM DDR3 1333Mhz
||4GB (2 X 2GB) Dual Channel 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM||4GB Dual Channel 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 X 2GB)
||12.7" SATA Tray Load DVD+/-RW||Slot Load 8X DVD + /-RW Drive with double layer write capability
||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 - 1GB
||1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670
||1GB GDDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M/Integrated Intel HD
||Dell Wireless 1501 WiFi, Dell Wireless 365 Bluetooth Internal (2.1+EDR) Mini-Card
||Intel WiFi Link 5100 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-card, Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth Module||Dell Wireless 1520 802.11n Half Mini-Card|
||2.2AHr 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery||6-Cell (56WHr) Li-Ion Primary Battery
||8-cell Primary Battery