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Dell shrinks down the Inspiron 1525

Dell's 15-inch Inspiron 1525 laptop.

Also jumping the CES gun by a few days is Dell's 15-inch Inspiron 1525 laptop. This model actually popped up on Dell's Australian Web site earlier this week, but is being officially announced in the US today.

With a complete top-to-bottom revamp of Dell's entire laptop line in mid-2007, why the need for a new mainstream model so soon? While the current 14-inch Inspiron 1420 hit the size/features/performance sweet spot, and the high-end XPS M1330 and M1530 are slick, thin 13- and 15-inch models, the middle-of-the-road Inspiron 1520 was always a little too big and clunky.

With the upgraded Inspiron 1525 (hey, nobody ever accused these guys of creative naming), Dell's managed to shave a little bulk off of the system, and the smaller chassis leaves less dead space on the keyboard tray. Compared to the older 1520, this new version is about 30 percent slimmer and almost a half-pound lighter.

The Inspiron 1525 starts at only $499, and includes an HDMI output and touch-sensitive media controls, which are nice touches in that price range. The standard Dell configuration options are available (including a few new lid patterns, such as the one seen here), so you can easily build this out into a system costing $1,000 or more.

We'll take a more hands-on look at the Inspiron 1525 next week during CES.