WHEN I was asked to pick up the Dell Inspiron 13z Limited Edition, I thought the timing couldn’t have been right. I was in the market for a brand new notebook and Dell was in the top five for consideration.
My main concerns were low weight, practical performance and overall portability. On all those counts, the Inspiron delivers.
However, one thing that turned me off was when I opened the box. The Inspiron was PINK! To be fair, it was more towards a purplish kind of pink, but it was still pink. Gone were my intentions to bring it to the office, so the review was mostly done at home, in the confines of the study!
The Inspiron comes with 4GB DDR3 RAM, an Intel Core i5-2430M processor running at 2.4GHz and 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium OS.
The screen is a 13.3-inch HD WLED at 720p, a 320GB SATA Hard Drive and 1MP HD built in webcam. Ports and slots include a HDMI output, USB 3.0, 8-in-1 Memory Card Reader (SD, SDXC, SDHC, MS, MS-PRO, MMC, MMC+, xD), headphone/microphone combo jack and an Ethernet port. The absence of a built-in optical drive kept the weight down (at only 1.76kg).
By comparison, the 13-inch Macbook Air weighs at 1.35kg, making the Inspiron a good alternative if you don’t mind the extra 400g. Also, the Dell is way cheaper in terms of pricing.
The build quality is pretty solid, with the lid and palm rests given a brushed aluminum finish which feels substantial and expensive (Be warned, it is prone to smudges). The design is sleek and feels comfortable when being moved around. I also liked the covered ports and jacks.
What I found interesting was the three buttons above the full size keyboard. The first gets you to the Windows Mobility Centre which allows you to make changes to all the vital functions like Bluetooth connectivity, Battery settings,
Wireless Network settings and Display controls and Security settings.
Then there’s a Dell button which takes you directly to the Dell Support Center where you can access your system info and run diagnostics, as well as back up and recovery services. The last button is customisable, allowing you to assign it to do anything from starting up a programme opening a website.
Dell has also included a facial recognition software for login purposes which for the most part was accurate enough.
The system continuously learns the details of your face, so theoretically, it would be able to recognise you even if you changed your hairstyle or put on makeup (but just keep that password somewhere safe all the same). The programme also allows you to use a Power Smart feature which detects if your face is present or not. If it doesn’t detect your face, it will turn off the screen and even put the PC into sleep mode to save battery life. While not the most useful feature, it’s nice to know it’s there.
The battery life is pretty decent. I got about four hours on a charge with mixed usage of watching videos, listening to music, word processing and web browsing.
Videos were great to watch on the screen and the sound quality was good considering it’s such a small notebook. Its great if you’re on the road a lot and require some entertainment.
The HDMI output makes the notebook an even better entertainment centre when you plug it into a HD TV. The 320GB Hard Drive however, is a bit disappointing in an age where 500GB and above is the norm, but it will suffice for you to store your documents and some music. All other media should be kept in an external hard disk.
Although I didn’t get to try out the gaming abilities on the Inspiron, it should more than meet the requirements for playing RTS and FPS games on low to medium settings. But then again, if you’re looking for a gaming notebook, consider Dell’s XPS line or Alienware notebooks.
As far as I’m concerning, I would definitely put the Inspiron 13z high on the list. Its sleek design, high portability and great performance for a reasonable price.