The 13.3-inch notebook category has been gaining popularity as it combines the tote-ability of a 12.1-inch ultraportable with a larger screen estate, optical drive and full-sized keyboard. Dell’s first venture into this market was with the which uses a very similar design to the notebook we’re looking at today.
Though the new Inspiron 13 aims for the budget segment, we were surprised to find a Core 2 Duo processor in a machine which cost under AU$1,300 (most laptops at this price range use Pentium dual-core chips to save costs) and offers excellent battery life. The only caveat is that the chipset is based on the older Centrino platform instead of the newer Centrino 2. The latter would have offered even more power savings and stronger graphics performance, though it would have also driven up the cost as well.
It may not be able to stand toe-to-toe with entertainment models such as the HP Pavilion dv3000 when it comes to features, or have the stylish looks of the newest Sony portables, but at this cheap price, users with tight purse strings will probably close one eye and take up what the Inspiron 13 has to offer.
It may lack dashing good looks while weighing a hefty 2.2kg (even more than the heavy Pavilion dv3000), but for a budget thin-and-light notebook the Inspiron 13 still maintains a pleasing design. Taking a cue from the more expensive this Inspiron’s rounded hinge, slot-in optical drive and glossy blue exterior give it a touch of class. With a footprint of 318x238x38.37mm, it doesn’t take up too much space in a backpack or messenger bag, either.
Unlike the rest of the Inspiron series, which come in a range of eight shades, this thin-and-light has only a single colour option – Pacific Blue. Fortunately, it doesn’t compromise on other features such as multimedia control and a battery meter. Above the full-sized keyboard lies a row of touch-sensitive playback and volume control keys which give the Inspiron 13 some value as an entertainment device. The power cell sports a line of five LED lights which displays the charge level in 20 per cent increments without having to power up the machine.
The touchpad is responsive enough with two scroll zones, and we like the generously sized mouse buttons gracing the bottom of the trackpad.