Nov 20, 2008

Dell Inspiron 1525

The old days of bulky, overweight Dell notebooks may be coming to a close in 2008. Today Dell announced their latest addition to the Inspiron family of notebooks, the 15.4-inch Inspiron 1525. We are happy to have a pre-production unit to review, and this sleek successor to the Inspiron 1520 might just surprise you.

Our pre-production Inspiron 1525 is equipped with the following specs:
1. 15.4-inch WXGA (1280 x 800) CCFL TrueLife (glossy) screen
2. 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7250 processor
3. 2GB DDR2-667 SDRAM (up to 4GB DDR2 SDRAM available)
4. 120GB 5400 RPM SATA HDD
5. 8x Dual-layer DVD±RW drive
6. Video: Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
7. Wireless: Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Mini Card
8. Mobile Broadband: Dell Wireless integrated mobile broadband mini-cards Sprint and Verizon serice
9. Colors: Multiple colors and finishes available
10. Media Card: 8-in-1 flash memory reader
11. Input and Output Ports: 4 USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, IEEE 1394a, RJ11, RJ45, 2 headphone, 1 microphone, 1 ExpressCard 54mm slot, 3 mini-card slots, consumer IR, S-Video
12. Integrated 2.0 megapixel webcam available
13. Windows Vista Home Premium
14. Dimensions: 1.00" - 1.48" (height) x 14.05" (width) x 10.08" (depth)
15. Weight: 5.9lbs with 6-cell battery

Build and Design :
Dell received some much needed attention in 2007 with the introduction of the sleek, high performance XPS M1330 and XPS M1530 notebooks. Although these more expensive notebooks in the Dell lineup were praised for their looks and low weight, the Dell Inspiron 1520 was criticized for being yet another bulky and unattractive laptop. Dell listened closely to this criticism when they designed the new Inspiron 1525. The Inspiron 1525 is in fact 25% smaller, 30% slimmer and almost half a pound lighter than the Inspiron 1520.

In addition to the eight color options available on other Inspiron notebooks, the 1525 offers four new patterns. These designs are inlaid molds so there's no risk of the design coming off.

Although I wasn't a huge fan of the glossy inlaid "Commotion Pattern" design on our pre-production Inspiron 1525, I must say it looks flawless. I was highly critical of the paint application on the Inspiron 1420, 1520, and 1720 because the paint has questionable durability. The new glossy lid designs might be a magnet for fingerprints, but it certainly looks more durable than the old Inspiron paint jobs.

Display options for the Inspiron 1525 include a matte finish 15.4" Widescreen XGA (1280 x 800), a 15.4" Widescreen XGA (1280 x 800) with TruleLife (glossy finish), or a 15.4" "high resolution" (1440 x 900) glossy widescreen display. On the surface the lack of higher resolutions is a serious flaw in the design of the 1525. In truth, the overwhelming majority of "average" notebook users will think the WXGA resolution looks stunning.

The screen on our pre-production unit looks flawless from straight on and the horizontal viewing angles are great. Upper vertical viewing angles are good, but colors did begin to invert at lower viewing angles when the screen is tilted back.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Media Controls
The keyboard on the Inspiron 1525 is fairly similar to the 1520. The keyboard is firm with virtually no flex and the keys have excellent travel and cushion.

The touchpad surface utilizes the new design that is integrated with the palm rest surface. The only separation between the palm rests and the touchpad is the indented area above the touchpad buttons. The touchpad buttons have excellent travel and cushion, though I did feel like they made a bit too much of a "clicking" sound when pressed. The good news with the touchpad is that it's responsive, has dedicated scroll areas and the textured feel is good.
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