The keyboard on the Inspiron 15R is a very nice Chilet-style keyboard that feels a little like a traditional keyboard while typing. Each key has a slightly curved top similar to regular keyboard keys, but since this is a Chiclet or "island" keyboard you get a little extra space between the keys to help prevent typos. This design is comfortable to use but the condensed number pad feels slightly cramped next to the main keyboard. I honestly don't have any major complaints about the keyboard short of the lack of a backlit keyboard option.
The touchpad is a pretty large Synaptics model, which happily includes separate touchpad buttons rather than the poorly implemented integrated touchpad buttons we've seen on many recent notebook PCs. The response times of the touchpad are quite good with no obvious lag during quick cursor movements. The surface texture matches the finish on the palm rests and it is easy to glide your fingertips over the touchpad in a single, fluid movement. The touchpad supports multitouch gestures. The touchpad buttons offer somewhat deep feedback with slightly more travel than the short-throw buttons on the previous generation of the 15R.
Screen and Speakers
As the name suggests, the Inspiron 15R features a 15.6-inch display. The panel comes in only 1366x768 resolution with a glossy surface. The reflections aren't particularly bad compared to some of the all-glass "frameless" style screens on some notebooks, but you will certainly have trouble viewing the screen outdoors under direct sunlight. For a budget system the screen appears to be slightly above average with a strong backlight measuring a peak of 221nit with our Gossen Mavo-Monitor light meter. Screen contrast comes in at 141:1 with minimal backlight bleed around the edges of the screen. As with all TN panels, vertical viewing angles are good only out to about 15-20 degrees before colors started to sharply invert. Horizontal viewing angles are better, staying true to about 60 degrees off-center before reflections start to get in the way under normal lighting conditions.
The speakers on the Inspiron 15R are located along the leading edge of the palmrest facing downward. This Dell has a "SRS Premium Sound" label under the screen which suggests that Dell has done some additional software tuning to try and improve the listening experience on this laptop. However, since the location of the speakers pushes sound forward and down rather than up toward the user, you'll likely find the audio playback sounds muffled when you use the 15R as a "laptop."
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