CNET First Look
Dell Inspiron 15RDell's mainstream consumer laptop, the Inspiron 15R, is an attractively-priced budget computer with a welcome set of up-to-date features and unique swappable lids.
-Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at cnet.com, and this is the Dell Inspiron 15R, the 2011 edition. Now, the difference is that reviewed the 15R and the 14R last year. They were redesigned of Dell's very popular midrange consumer laptops, the Inspiron series, and what brought to table was the new design, sort of slimmer look, and there's a forward hinge design that creates a little bit of bulge in the back; we'll show in a moment, but it was a pretty nice laptop with some good specs for the money. Now the 2011 version, it's cheap new feature is that it has the second generation Intel Core i-series processors. It starts with a Core i3 at a really aggressive price point of 499. That's why we like the Inspiron 15R the best. At 499, it's hard to beat. Most of the laptops that we see in that range usually have processors that are little slower and certainly don't have all the ports and specs that we've been looking for. At 499 for this guy, you got a Core i3 processor, 3G of RAM, 320 gigabyte hard drive, and it comes with USB 3.0 port, a rarity in that price range. Overall, it's pretty attractive looking. I mean it's not as nice as a high end laptop, but you know, you've got this brushed metal type look, which is actually plastic. It does attract a lot of fingerprints. It's got an age to age raised keyboard or actually really nice large multitouch touch pad here with buttons beneath. Now, went through all that, we then get to one of the coolest, most interesting design features on the new Inspiron 15R and that swappable lids. Now, when you look at the lid on this one, it's a plain black one. It's actually not bad looking, but this actually swap out, press the button on the back here, and with a little bit of effort, it took us sometime, you can pop it right off. This lid you can replace with anyone of a number of colors or design options ranging in price, 35 dollars for plain color, 60 dollars for nicer designs. That's pretty expensive, but you're probably not gonna buy one of these 2 often, and heck, it's a lot cheaper than buying a brand new laptop in a different color, and it's nice to have that flexibility. We know people who have actually wanted to buy certain colored laptops and Dell has sold laptops with different lid designs for years and you're kind of stuck with it. So, we like this idea better, but you just have to make sure maybe pick one and find one that you like, and the 15.6-inch screen on the Dell 15R is nice and bright and the colors are vivid. It doesn't have great angles for viewing, but other than that, it's pretty great for the price range. The are configurations all over the map on the 15R though and you have to be a little careful because before you know it, you could be spending over a thousand dollars on the supposedly budget laptop. R configuration had a Core 15 processor, a 2-year warranty and some other features for about $700. That's a pretty good deal too, although you just wanna be careful getting up over 700 because there are a lot of other laptops that offer similar types of features out there especially when you get towards a thousand dollars. Overall, this is good budget pick. Keep it in the budget range and take a look on the Dell's website and what see what else is available, but it's nice to your buying into that chassis design even at the low end without too many compromises. I'm Scott Stein and this is the 2011 Dell Inspiron 15R.