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Hands on with the Dell Inspiron 1525

Hands on with the Dell Inspiron 1525

The new "Chill" lid design.

We first told you about the existence of Dell's new low-cost 15-inch laptop late last week, now we've got some more hands-on details. While we've always liked the excellent 14-inch Inspiron 1420 model (and the very cool, but more expensive, XPS line--the 13-inch M1330 and 15-inch M1530), somewhere in there, Dell's basic Inspiron 15-inch--long the bread and butter of the company's consumer laptops--got lost in the shuffle, offering a small increase in screen size, but a much larger, more unwieldy chassis.

Watch the Dell Inspiron 1525 video on CNET TV.

Dell's taken these points to heart, and the company has cooked up a very nice reworking of the Inspiron 1520, in the form of the Inspiron 1525. It's a smaller, lighter version of the previous 15-inch, about 30 percent thinner, in fact, much more in line with the 14-inch version, which has a great sense of proportion among its screen, keyboard, and keyboard tray.

We had a chance to spend some hands-on time with the new system, and for a laptop that starts at only $499, it offers a lot of bang for your buck, including an HDMI output. Nicely spec'd out, you can get a T7000-series Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 2GB of RAM for under $900. Also new are four background lid patterns (joining the usual palette of solid colors), Chill, Street, Commotion, and Blossom (Chill is seen here).

On the other hand, especially after getting used to the brushed metal of the XPS M1530 (which itself starts at only $999), the new Inspiron 1525 has a somewhat cheap plastic feel, and we're not sure it would stand up to too much abuse on the road.

Look for fixed configuration version of the Dell Inspiron 1525 to ship on January 11, with custom configured systems shipping around January 18.