by Ben Housman
The Dell e1405 is a portable media laptop that Dell has recently released to replace the XPS M140. The E1405 has excellent battery life, a slew of multimedia functions that can make a grown man cry and the best laptop processors currently on the market.
Dell Inspiron E1405 Specs as reviewed:
- Processor: Intel Core Duo T2300 (1.66Ghz)
- Operating System: Windows Media Center Edition
- Hard Drive: 60GB 5400RPM SATA
- Screen: 14″ WXGA+ (1440 x 900) with Trulife
- Memory: 512mb DDR533
- Graphics: Intel Integrated GMA 950
- Optical Drive: 24x CD-RW/DVD-ROM
- Battery: 6-Cell
- Wireless: Intel 3945 802.11a/b/g
Dell Inspiron e1405 (view large image)
Reasons for buying:
I was looking for a laptop on the smaller side of 15.4″ that would be easily portable from room to room in my house but also good on road trips where watching a movie could be the only thing to save your sanity. After trying the Compaq V4000T, which ran extremely hot and was bulky, I knew I wanted something smaller and more portable. Given a few months and I narrowed my choices down to the Dell e1405 and the Apple Macbook. But again with heat issues and the new reports of the plastic on Macbooks turning colors, and due to a better price of the Dell machine, I decided to go with the E1405. My configuraton for the e1405 came to $640 + tax due to some pretty good deals going on at the time of purchase.
This laptop is much smaller then I had expected. I had used a 15.4″ laptop in the past was so I was thinking a 14.1″ would be close to the same size. Another feature of the E1405 that struck me is the thickness. On paper 1.5″ sounds deep for a laptop but when carrying it around you don’t really notice it too much. I’m not a fan of the white bumpers that the e1405 and all recent Inspiron laptops carry though.
Dell Inspiron e1405 setup next to a desktop LCD screen and keyboard (view large image)
Build Quality and Design:
The build quality on the E1405 is nothing to write home about, but at the same time it isn’t bad. When picking the laptop up from one corner you can hear it creaking, but I still feel confident enough picking it up with one hand. Another weak point is the hinges. When pushing on the inside of the hinges you can hear a cracking sound that isn’t too pleasant. Also, when the laptop is closed if you’re looking at it from the front you can see a small gap on the right side between the laptop and the LCD. It’s almost as if the plastic was warped.
Above view of Inspiron e1405 (view large image)
Size comparison, Dell Inspiron e1705 on the left and Dell Inspiron e1405 on the Right (view large image)
The screen is a Samsung WXGA+ 1440 x 900 with the Trulife glossy coating over it (currently Dell only offers this screen with Trulife). The first thing that l noticed with this screen is the light leakage. When booting up for the first time on the XP loading screen there was about an inch of light appearing across the entire bottom of the laptop. But once on the desktop I didn’t really notice the light leakage. It’s only apparent when watching some movies with a black bar on the top and bottom or doing something else on it that is dark.
Viewing angles are not the best on the market. Horizontal viewing angles are pretty good and I can move my head to the left and right pretty far without noticing any distorting or colors changing. But with vertical angles there’s only one sweet spot: the center. Moving your head either up or down an inch or more and everything looks degraded. If you move your head down everything becomes darker while moving your head up will make everything brighter. The glossy Trulife coating on the screen brings out the colors and contrast well while the reflections don’t really bother me. I have read on the NotebookReview forums that many people dislike the glossy screen for their reflective nature, but for me this is not the case.
e1405 Screen (view large image)
The speakers aren’t fantastic on the E1405, but they are adequate. When watching a movie they sound slightly tinny, but are loud and good enough for general use. I recommend that if you use the speakers often to pick up a pair of headphones or external speakers. I used my Sony MDR-V700 DJ quality headphones on them and they sounded great.
Processor and Performance:
I chose the 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300 processor for my e1405 and I find that it is very snappy. I often watch a DVD in one corner of the screen while chatting on MSN and browsing the web without slowdown. Also, Dell put a service panel on the bottom of the laptop that when unscrewed (only 3 screws) you have complete access to the processor and heatsink. 4 more screws and the heatsink is off and you can just pop a Core 2 Duo CPU in there — assuming Dell releases bios that supports it.
Super Pi is a program that forces the notebook processor to calculate Pi to 2-million digits of accuracy. The e1405 took 1m 26s to calculate this value with its 1.66 GHz Core Duo processor, here’s how it stacked up to other notebooks:
|Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)||1m 26s|
|Dell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 12s|
|Lenovo Z61m (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 16s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 36s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|Asus V6Va (Pentium M 1.86 GHz)||1m 46s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
Here’s how the e1405 stacked up in PCMark04 results against other notebooks. This result considers system performance as a whole (processor, graphics card, hard drive) and is a better indication of how the e1405 performs compared to other notebooks:
|Dell Inspiron e1405 (1.66 GHz Core Duo)||4,430 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS M1210 (2.13 GHz Core Duo)||6,033 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron XPS2 (2.0GHz Intel Pentium M)||4,082 PCMarks|
|Acer Aspire 5002 WLMi (AMD Turion 64 ML-30 1.6GHz)||2,392 PCmarks|
|Acer TravelMate 4400 (AMD Turion ML-30, 1.6GHz)||3,104 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra A6 (1.66GHz Intel Core Duo)||2,653 PCMarks|
|PortableOne SR2 (Intel Pentium M Dothan 735 1.7GHz)||3,274 PCMarks|
This is not a section you would expect for the E1405, but it doesn’t do bad on older games. Counter Strike 1.6 at 1440 x 900 will get you 50-60fps. Playing Trackmania Nations at 1440 x 900 on low settings + 8x af gets me a playable 20-30fps. I haven’t tried any other games but I hear that games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Need for Speed: Most Wanted should run on lower settings.
The hard drive that l ordered with my E1405 is a 60GB 5400RPM SATA. It is not fast but runs very cool. The only negative about it is that it comes with 2MB of cache instead of the 8MB that is nearly standard these days, this causes some slowdown:
Ports and Inputs:
The Dell e1405 has an average amount of ports considering the size of the laptop. It has 4 USB 2.0 ports, 1 VGA-out, 1 S-Video port, headphone jack, microphone jack, 4-in-1 media card reader, Express Card slot (no PCMCIA slot), 10/100 ethernet, modem, and firewire.
Dell Inspiron e1405 front side view (view large image)
Dell Inspiron e1405 left side view (view large image)
Dell Inspiron e1405 back side view(view large image)
Dell Inspiron e1405 right side view (view large image)
I configured my e1405 with the Intel 3945 802.11a/b/g wifi card and so far it lives up to my expectations. I’m sitting on the couch on the 1st floor typing this and l have an “Excellent” signal quality from my router which is on the 2nd floor.
Heat and Noise:
The e1405 runs very cool by nature. After boot up the processor hangs between 25-30C and about 10 minutes later it hovers in the 30’s. When the temp gets to 41C the fan kicks in until the temp drops to 40C or lower. The fan is extremely quiet and unless the room is entirely quiet you won’t even notice it. You can use this laptop on your lap without a problem; the bottom of the laptop gets warm but never to a point that would become uncomfortable.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
Dell Inspiron e1405 keyboard (view large image)
This keyboard has no issues that I can find. Key travel is average, there is no flex when typing and aside from the F1-F12 buttons and the ones above the keys are full size. The only issue with the keyboard for me is that I can’t tell the difference between one key and another when the room is dark, but that’s a problem with just about all laptop keyboards, or maybe I need to improve my night vision. The touchpad is satisfactory, but l often use a mouse in place of it. There is an option in the software to turn the touchpad and buttons off if you wish to do so.
I opted to get the 6 cell battery to save $100, but at the same time l was worried l would be plagued with 2 hour battery life like with my previous Compaq V400T. This is NOT the case at all with the E1405! On 6/8 brightness, Wi-Fi on and browsing the web while listening to music I consistently get over 3 hours of battery life. The battery also has a small strip of LED lights that has a small button you can press to tell you how much charge is left in the battery, whether the laptop is on or not. This can be a handy feature to use in case you need to know if you’ll need your power brick when going out somewhere without turning the laptop on. Note, that this is also on most of not all other Dell laptops.
In conclusion, I am happy with my purchase and while this laptop has its flaws they don’t detract enough from the experience of owning it and using it on a daily basis. For $640 I couldn’t think of a better laptop for the price that could come close to outperforming it. I would recommend the e1405 to anyone that’s looking for a budget laptop that has a small screen but doesn’t skimp on features.
- Small size
- Excellent battery life
- Keyboard is nice to type on
- Fast processor and performance
- Screen has light leakage across the bottom
- Build quality is average if not slightly below.
- Hard Drive is on the slow side