Dell’s Inspiron computer lineup is generally their most popular notebook offering for one big reason: price. Despite being some of Dell’s most affordable laptops, yesterday’s introduction of the Inspiron R brought a number of high-end features and design choices to the brand. Read on for our brief hands-on look.
The most noticeable thing about the new Inspiron R series is probably the flashy lid design. Dell decided to go with a very shiny metallic lid design with the R lineup. Each laptop will be available in black, blue and red. There will also be a pink version available for certain models, though it wasn’t on display at a recent press event. The metallic black laptop looks by far the best – though it really looks more grey or silver than anything – the red is nice, but the blue looked a little cheap.
The other major design choice Dell made for the new Inspiron line up with the placement of the screen hinge with respect to the back of the laptop. The Texas computer giant introduced this forward-placed hinge design in its high-end Adamo notebook. On the Adamo, the design allows for port placement in the rear of the computer. On the new Inspiron R series, the hinge design is used to improve the range of screen movement – i.e., the display can be pushed back a lot further.
One of the big failings budget notebooks often face is a bouncy keyboard or an unresponsive trackpad. In order to make the laptop more affordable, companies have to skimp somewhere and after general build quality, it’s usually one of these two components. Fortunately, the Inspiron R doesn’t seem to suffer from any of these issues.
While we’ve seen better keyboards, they’re typically on expensive notebooks. It’s nice to see a solid keyboard with only slight flex on an affordable model. The trackpads used in the Inspiron R, at least in the models with which we played, were all Synaptics models. Dell has often used Alps touchpads in their notebooks, especially the Inspirons. We prefer to see Synaptics touchpads since they tend to offer superior performance and actually useful multitouch capabilities.
One of Dell’s notebook product managers mentioned that pushing the hinges forward allows for more ports to be put on the rear of the laptop. It’s a return to the way things used to be, before everyone started putting ports on the sides for easier access. The specific port selection varies depending on which laptop – 14R, 15R or 17R – it is.
Inspiron R Ports and Expansion:
- 2 x USB2.0 (3 x USB2.0 on 15R and 17R)
- e-SATA/USB2.0 combo port
- VGA out
- HDMI out
- 10/100 Ethernet
- Audio out, microphone in
- 7-in-1 memory card reader
There are no USB3.0 ports or Gigabit Ethernet available on any of the models. Other options include 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth, Blu-ray-capable optical drives and more. The Inspiron R laptops are a new class of budget notebook with a modern design, solid build quality and respectable feature sets. With models starting at $479.99, it seems obvious that this will probably be a big seller for Dell.
Stay tuned to NotebookReview.com for the full review on Dell’s new Inspiron R series of notebooks, coming soon.