Its display isn't the best available, it isn't the lightest notebook out there and its battery life doesn't wow experts. However, the Dell Inspiron 15R still impresses with its solid performance, fancy design, comfortable keyboard and fairly low price.
Which Core processor is right for you? The Core i3 processor in the Dell Inspiron 15R should be fine for everyday tasks like surfing the web, watching videos and document editing. But if you need extra oomph, experts suggest stepping up to the Core i5-equipped configuration (*Est. $600). Reviewers who test that version find it to be a solid performer, buoyed by 6 GB of RAM and 500 GB hard drive. Yet the lack of discrete graphics means you won't do any 3D gaming on this notebook, and battery life tops out at a slightly subpar 4.5 hours in testing.
Big, but comfortable. Reviewers say this 1.18-inch thick, 6-pound laptop is a bit bulky in today's ultraportable-crazed world; if you prefer something smaller, you might consider the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 (*Est. $650 and up) instead. The island-style keyboard provides great tactile response and travel depth, while the touchpad performs multi-touch gestures smoothly and effortlessly, experts report. The laptop also offers abundant port options, sporting four USB 3.0 ports, an 8-in-1 card reader, an Ethernet connection, HDMI and VGA ports, and even a Kensington lock slot. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make an appearance in this impressive lineup.
A clean, customizable look. The brushed aluminum keyboard deck wins praise. The metal continues to the trim of the lid, while the plastic portion of the lid can be swapped out thanks to Dell's SWITCH lids, which come in a variety of colors and patterns for less than $30 each. The 15.6-inch, 1,366-by-768-pixel display delivers a bright and vibrant picture, but experts say it's somewhat hampered by the screen's reflective finish and mediocre viewing angles. The loud and punchy speakers excel, especially for such a low-cost laptop.
Need help? Dell delivers. There have been a few reports of fan issues with the Inspiron 15R, but not enough to cause alarm. Dell backs up its products with a strong warranty that includes 90 days of premium phone support and one year of in-house repair after a remote diagnosis. However, the company failed to earn a Readers' Choice award from PCMag.com.
A good all-around computer at a good price. The Dell Inspiron 15R packs solid performance and abundant ports into a very competitively priced package.
1. Laptop Magazine
Review Credibility: Excellent Berg says this laptop has some drawbacks -- bulky size and brief battery life among them -- but the overall package makes it a compelling budget option. "Dell's Inspiron 15R combines a premium design and strong performance at a great price," he writes.
Review: Dell Inspiron 15R 5520 Review, Daniel Berg, Aug. 20, 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Delaney agrees that the Inspiron 15R may be bulky and short-lasting, but its low price, abundant ports and solid computing chops are a winning combination. Like other reviewers, he tests a configuration with a Core i5 processor rather than the Core i3 found in the base model.
Review: Dell Inspiron 15R-5520, John R. Delaney, Sept. 26, 2012
3. PC World
Review Credibility: Very Good PC World subjects the Dell Inspiron 15R to a battery of benchmark tests as well as a hands-on evaluation. "Unless you're looking for something very specific -- such as an attractive exterior or serious processing power -- the 15R is a great choice for budget-conscious shoppers," Jacobsson Purewal says.
Review: Dell Inspiron 15R 5520 Review: Solidly Budget-friendly, Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, Oct. 3, 2012