Dell Inspiron 1720

Dell Inspiron 1720

Michelle Thatcher Former Senior Associate Editor, Laptops
Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.
Michelle Thatcher
3 min read

The Dell Inspiron 1720 series consists of two models. The Inspiron 1720 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 1721 trades Intel for an AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and chipset. Aside from processor choices, Dell is also offering color choices with the Inspiron 1720 series: 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 1720 series offers. While many of the upgrade options--such as integrated WWAN or a Blu-ray drive--will surely push the price well above the $899 baseline, we think the Inspiron 1720 series will nevertheless appeal to home users who want a solid all-around laptop with a high degree of customization.

Starting price $899
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 500GB (two 250GB) at 5,400rpm
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 Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 15.5x11.5x1.5-1.7 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 17 inches
System weight 7.8 pounds
Category desktop replacement

Though the Inspiron 1720 series' feature set is largely average for its category, a few key items stand out. For example, the laptop's 17-inch wide-screen display can be configured with a 1,440x900 or 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 1720 will have the option to include a Blu-ray drive in their system. Of course, these finer features will drive the Inspiron 1720 series well above the $899 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 1720 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 1720 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 1720 series Average for desktop replacement category
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video, DVI
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, ExpressCard 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 1720 series can vary widely depending on your component and feature choices. The baseline configuration for the Inspiron 1720 is about average for a budget desktop replacement, incorporating 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 $999. Buyers looking for an even lower price can opt for the baseline Inspiron 1721, which trades the Intel processor for an AMD Turion 64 X2 and costs $899. These budget-friendly processors won't outrun the latest-generation components, but they should prove sufficient for most home users' needs.