With a bevy of component options and color choices--plus a low starting price--the Dell Inspiron 1520 series looks poised to be a favorite among home users.
The Dell Inspiron 1520 series consists of two models. The Inspiron 1520 is built around an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and (in the case of higher-end models) the new Centrino Duo platform, while the Inspiron 1521 trades Intel for an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and chipset. Aside from processor choices, Dell is also offering color choices: if buyers don't like the traditional white or black case, they can opt for red, blue, green, yellow, brown, or pink. We've seen colorful laptops before--most recently in the Sony VAIO CR series--but we've never seen a colored laptop with as many configuration options as the Dell Inspiron 1520 series offers. Add to that such media-friendly options as a built-in Webcam or Blu-Ray disc drive, and the Dell Inspiron 1520 series will definitely appeal to home users who want a solid all-around laptop with a high degree of customization.
|Processor||AMD Turion 64 X2 up to 2.2GHz or Intel Core 2 Duo up to 2.2GHz|
|Memory||Up to 4GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||Up to 160GB|
|Graphics||Integrated: ATI Radeon Xpress X1270 or Mobile Intel GMA X3100 |
Discrete: Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M GS (128MB) or Nvidia GeForce Go 8600M GT (256MB)
|Chipset||ATI 690T/600SB or Mobile Intel Express 965PM/GM|
|Operating system||Windows Vista (all editions)|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14.1x10.6x1.5-1.7 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight||6.4 pounds|
Though the Inspiron 1520 series' feature set is largely average for the midsize category, a few key items stand out. For example, the laptop's 15.4-inch wide-screen display can be configured with a sharp 1,440x900 or even sharper 1,920x1,200 native resolution. Users who want always-on connectivity can opt for integrated WWAN from Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T (though you'll have to subscribe to the carriers' data service). And buyers of the Intel-based Inspiron 1520 will have the option to include a Blu-Ray drive in their system--still a rare choice outside the realm of premium desktop replacement laptops. Of course, these finer features will drive the Inspiron 1520 series well above the $749 starting price, but many home users will appreciate the option to customize their laptop to fit their needs and lifestyles.
Dell has also borrowed a few handy design features from its other laptop lines and incorporated them into the Inspiron 1520 series. First, media controls along the front edge, similar to those found on the XPS line of laptops, let you easily control disc playback. From the Latitude line, the Inspiron 1520 has adopted a built-in Wi-Fi Catcher, which lets you detect wireless networks even when the laptop's lid is closed or the computer is powered off.
|Dell Inspiron 1520 series||Average for midsize category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video||VGA-out, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||PC Card slot||PC Card slot|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||CD-RW/DVD-ROM or DVD burner, Blu-ray drive optional on Intel-based models||DVD burner|
As often happens with configurable laptops, the price of the Dell Inspiron 1520 series can vary widely depending on your component and feature choices. But we even like the look of the baseline Inspiron 1520 configuration, which incorporates a Core 2 Duo T5250 processor (based on Intel's previous-generation architecture), 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive for $849. Buyers looking for an even lower price can opt for the baseline Inspiron 1521, which trades the Intel processor for an AMD Turion 64 X2 and costs just $749. These budget-friendly processors won't outrun the latest-generation components, but they should prove sufficient for most home users' needs.