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Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB review: Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB

Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB

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Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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6 min read

Editors' note: This review is part of our 2010 retail laptop and desktop back-to-school roundup, covering specific fixed configurations of popular systems that can be found in retail stores.

OVR
7.4

Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB

The Good

Streamlined look, easy-to-use keyboard and touch pad; built-in WiMax antenna; fast Core i5 processor.

The Bad

WiMax may not be of much use, as it's not available in most major cities yet.

The Bottom Line

With Windows 7 Professional and built-in WiMax, the Dell i14R-2265MRB is a retail laptop angling for the professional market, and as such might be a good option for a budget small-business machine.

The Dell Inspiron R is this year's newly designed iteration of the Dell Inspiron, with slightly sleeker colors and touches that make it look a bit more like a Studio series (another of Dell's brands) laptop. Our Back-to-School retail roundup features one of these new Inspirons, in a configuration that offers a fair amount for its slightly north-of-middle-of-the-road price. At $799--the same price as the 14-inch Core i3 Dell Inspiron 14R with ATI graphics and Intel Wireless Display we reviewed previously--this business-oriented model has a faster Core i5 processor, but loses the dedicated graphics and Intel Wireless Display. It does, however, come with Windows 7 Professional instead of Home Premium, and it also has a built-in WiMax antenna for high-speed mobile broadband.

This isn't the only laptop to feature WiMax in this retail roundup: the Dell Inspiron Mini iM1012-1091OBK, a 10-inch Netbook, also features it. While having WiMax built-in on this Inspiron is an eye-opening perk, it's really too expensive and not widespread enough to be of real use yet. Clearwire and Sprint offer WiMax service currently in the U.S, but the rate plans tend to be high and might be unappealing to anyone other than a small-business user (the service is also not yet available in major markets such as New York City). This laptop is targeted at small business, but we imagine many consumers would rather have a price cut and eliminate the WiMax antenna altogether.

Like Inspirons before, plastic is the predominant construction material on the Inspiron R. The outer lid and inner palm-rest area have a distinctly metallic brushed-metal veneer, but it's just that, as they're made of plastic, too. While this glossy material doesn't attract fingerprints as much as we expected, the lid's plastic flexes slightly more than we'd prefer. The silvery-gray color is attractive, though.

The chassis of the Inspiron R series has a "hinge-forward" design introduced on the recent Mini 10 Netbooks. What this means is the top lid connects to the base about an inch in from the rear. The reason for this design might be the lack of battery bulge or a slight shifting of the screen to be closer to the keyboard, but the R's base is decidedly thick at the back end and the rear shelf is still a kind of a bulge--it just doesn't jut from the base.

Dell's nearly edge-to-edge keyboard is a flat design with a bit of raised texture to the keys. It's comfortable to use, and the top media keys are thankfully function-reversed, as on Apple's and HP's laptops. The touch pad below is larger, more matte-surfaced, and generally more comfortable than recent Dell laptops we've used. The discrete buttons below are nothing special, but are well-sized and work nicely. As a total keyboard/touch-pad experience, the Dell i14R-2265MRB is better than average.

The LED-backlit 14.1-inch glossy screen has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, which matches most laptop displays around 13 and 14 inches. Video and Web pages look crisp and text and colors were sharp, but images got a little washed-out-looking at extended viewing angles. We were also impressed by the volume and sound quality on the stereo speakers, located under the palm rests on the bottom base. While this Dell advertises "SRS premium sound," the end result for most users amounts to a slightly better audio playback quality, nothing more.

One of Dell's custom software touches is a conspicuous dock centered on the top edge of the screen. It acts as a launcher to pictures, Webcam, Web browser, e-mail, and movie/music playback modes, acting a little like Apple's own applications dock, but a lot less flexible and more prone to linking to preinstalled promo trial bloatware.

Above the screen, a 1.3-megapixel webcam offers video conferencing and picture-taking capabilities, with a decent frame rate and OK image quality. Videos demonstrated that the microphone had good long-range sensitivity, but the video and picture resolution had some graininess in our normal office lighting.

HDMI, eSATA, and an internal Bluetooth antenna offer some options missing from other laptops, not to mention the inclusion of WiMax for mobile broadband in some markets worldwide. One USB and the VGA port along with the power plug are located on the backside, which could be convenient for those that might use this i14R primarily as a desktop replacement, but the rear port placement is awkward for travel and more casual use.

While Dell's Inspiron series is highly configurable across a wide price range on Dell's Web site, this fixed-configuration i14R-2265MRB model ends up being on the slightly higher end of Dell's options. Both 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive are included, which are above-average specs for a mainstream laptop. If you're interested in features or prices that don't match what you see here, you might want to try configuring one of your own instead.

We noticed an extra zip in this Dell i14's performance, due to its faster Core i5 processor. Web browsing, application installation, and nearly every other task was handled fast, and streaming videos cached faster than we expected. There are no dedicated graphics on this configuration of the i14R, so you'll need to consider casual games as the best entertainment alternative--or the nearly CPU- and GPU-agnostic streaming game service OnLive, which offers up subscription 3D games served over streaming video. Still, for nearly every other task, this laptop is more than adequate for nearly any user.

Juice box
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.36
Sleep (10 percent) 1.31
Idle (25 percent) 11.47
Load (5 percent) 48.93
Raw kWh 49.59
Annual energy cost $5.63

Annual energy consumption cost

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
773 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
790 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6050
129 
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
129 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
131 
Asus UL80J-BBK5
185 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
169 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
174 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx
222 
Dell Studio s1558-5691MSL
178 

The Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB ran for 3 hours and 1 minute on our video-playback battery drain test using its included 6-cell battery. Three hours is generally our cutoff for acceptability in a midsize laptop, and lacking any especially high-powered parts, we expected better. It's a disappointment for potential road warriors, and nowhere near what we'd call an all-day laptop.

Dell includes a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the i14R-2265MRB. Dell support is accessible through its 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

OVR
7.4

Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 9Battery 6Support 7
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