When it comes to laptops in 2011, "thinner is better" seems to be a consistent trend. The
Still, it's "thinner," not "ultraslim." The $599 starting price on the Inspiron 14z represents a reasonable budget price for the Core i3 processor, 500GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM it includes; the highest-end Inspiron 14z tops out at a still-reasonable $829, although it lacks dedicated graphics, which will annoy some. The swappable snap-on back lid, a
Improved battery life, a DVD drive, and USB 3.0 ports could make the most difference for potential buyers. The clean aluminum lid and uncluttered look are also better than we've seen from recent Dell laptops. The Inspiron 14z is a better back-to-school laptop than the Inspiron R; for not much of an extra investment, the overall design is much improved. We'd recommend it, even in its entry-level configuration, wholeheartedly. It's late in the year for a back-to-school laptop recommendation, but if you haven't bought a laptop yet, make sure you check out this late arrival from Dell.