The Dell Inspiron 13z is a light and portable laptop similar to the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 (*Est. $630 and up) , but without its speedy solid-state drive.
Fine for everyday users. The base configuration's Core i3 processor and 6 GB of RAM should more than meet the needs of most users, but reviewers cover a step-up model (*Est. $750) with a beefier Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM. That configuration earns kudos for its performance, which proves mostly competitive with much pricier Ultrabook offerings. Both available models sport a 500 GB hard drive spinning at 5,400 RPM, which makes the Inspiron 13z feel pokier than options like the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 (*Est. $650 and up) with its fast solid-state cache drive.
Battery life is good, but reviewers hate the amount of bloatware Dell crams into the machine. Like most ultraportables, the Inspiron 13z lacks an optical drive; if you need to read CDs and DVDs, Dell's bigger and bulkier Inspiron 15R (*Est. $550 and up) is a compelling alternative.
Ports and port covers. The lightweight Inspiron 13z boasts an accurate, comfortable keyboard and touchpad along with a bevy of ports, but the clunky port covers irritate reviewers across the board. It also lacks an optical disc drive.
A mixed bag. While users can change the look of their Inspiron 13z with Dell's swappable SWITCH lids (*Est. $30 each), experts say the laptop feels cheap overall due to its abundant use of plastic. The audio and video are a mixed bag, too. The 13.3-inch, 1,366-by-768-pixel display is bright, but colors fail to pop and it gets worse if you move away from the optimal head-on viewing position. Likewise, the audio hits high volumes but lacks punch.
In-home repair. Dell fails to win a PCMag.com Readers' Choice award this year, but the company offers 90 days of phone support and one year of in-home assistance after a remote check of your laptop.
Decent value, but others offer more. The Dell Inspiron 13z easily handles everyday tasks and is a breeze to tote around, but cheap laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 and Dell Inspiron 15R deliver as good or better performance -- and fewer flaws -- at more competitive prices.
1. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Eitelbach finds a lot to like in the Dell Inspiron 13z, calling it "a compelling ultraportable notebook value" thanks to its blend of performance, portability and customization. However, he says the Lenovo U310 has a speedier SSD cache drive.
Review: Dell Inspiron 13z (2012) Review, David Eitelbach, Sept. 6, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Ackerman loves the Dell Inspiron 13z's pint-sized frame and full-sized performance, but says the plastic body and annoying port covers make the notebook feel "cheap." Overall, he calls it a solid option for laptop buyers on a budget.
Review: Dell Inspiron 13z Review, Dan Ackerman, Sept. 4, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Here the Dell Inspiron 13z gets 3.5 stars out of 5, which matches Laptop Magazine and CNET's scores. Its design and processing power win praise, but the port covers and abundant bloatware drive Westover crazy.
Review: Dell Inspiron 13z, Brian Westover, Sept. 13, 2012