Dell's latest mainstream laptop has a new minimalist design that resembles a monolithic grey slab when it is closed.
Except for a small Dell logo at the centre of the lid, the Inspiron 15 7000 Series is unadorned. It has an aluminium chassis that is, at close to 2.6kg, as heavy as it looks. But it feels rigid and strong, which you are unlikely to get with a plastic chassis.
The laptop's edges are slightly bevelled. They also gleam in the light and add a bit of flair to a machine that has the potential to look dull.
Flip open the fairly thick lid and you will see a full high-definition touchscreen. It is bright and clear, with good viewing angles and is responsive to touch.
But with some manufacturers bumping up screen resolutions to 3,200 x 1,800 pixels on certain models, the Dell's 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen has become the minimum expected for its 15-inch size.
The island-style keyboard is backlit, with the illumination coming through the lettering, producing less glare than designs which allow the backlight to bleed out from between the keys. The extra keyboard space afforded by a 15-inch laptop allows for a number pad on the right side.
You would think that the large touchpad would make this a great one for multitouch gestures. But you would only be partly right. Common moves such as pinch to zoom are supported but the laptop was slow to detect such gestures.
Dell has configured the Inspiron 15 with the latest hardware, including a Haswell-class Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and Nvidia's GeForce GT 750M graphics chip.
But its performance is held back by a slow 5,400rpm hard drive that lacks even an SSD cache to speed up loading applications. It throttles the performance of this laptop, even if it does provide plenty of storage with its 1TB capacity.
As a result, this laptop scored only a middling 3,091 in PCMark 7, though its gaming performance is decent enough. Bioshock Infinite ran at a comfortable 35.4 frames per second (fps) at High settings. You could even push it to Very High if you do not mind it dipping occasionally below the 30fps minimum.
What surprised me most was the stout battery life. It lasted an impressive 7hrs 32min while looping a video. Mind you, this uptime will inevitably dip if you are running a graphically intensive app, such as a video game, but it should still be very decent.
The Dell Inspiron 15 has a classy design that puts it in MacBook Pro territory. But it is more affordable, albeit with a slower hard drive rather than an SSD, and has outstanding battery life.
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