The Dell Inspiron 13z is a cut above when it comes to ultra-portable laptops, mainly because it offers discrete graphics, something that’s uncommon in this category. At merely 1.8 Kg and a little over an inch in thickness, it’s quite convenient to carry too.
Design and Build Quality
Ergonomically, the laptop is well-designed, especially the keyboard and the placement of ports. It’s worth mentioning that the keys are bigger than what ultra-portable laptops usually offer, and even the spacing of the keys is good. The Enter and the Shift keys are well-sized, and the Ctrl key is located correctly. There are no hardware switches for disabling the touchpad or for wireless connections. In terms of accessibility, there are no ports at the back of the unit, which is good, most of them being on the sides. The memory card reader is in front.
In terms of looks, the laptop is elegant, but it has a plain Jane appearance. So if you’re looking for something fancy, this laptop isn’t for you. The lid and the wrist rest are glossy, and the rest of the unit sports a matt finish. The unit we tested had a feminine light-burgundy lid, a gray wrist rest and the screen frame was black. You can opt for the one with a black lid, if you like.
The build quality is one of the strongest points, a common asset of most Dell laptops. Be it the screen frame, chassis, wrist rest or the overall feel, it’s a good machine to work on.
Hardware and Features
In terms of size and features, the Dell Inspiron 13z is a rung higher than the Inspiron 11z. Though there are a few similarities in their hardware, the latter is certainly a more powerful machine. The 11z has a 11.6-inch screen, a less powerful processor (Intel Pentium SU4100, 1.3GHz, 2 MB L2 cache) and a 6 cell battery pack. Although, it is comparatively lighter in weight (1.38 Kg), it doesn’t feature an optical drive and discrete graphics. Built around the same chipset, the Intel GS45, the Inspiron 13z is powered by an Intel SU9400 processor, which is clocked at 1.4 GHz and has 3 MB L2 cache. There’s a whopping 4 GB DDR3 RAM to ensure smooth operation and the roomy 250 GB hard drive should suffice for storing your office data, as well as multimedia content.
The 13.3-inch glossy screen has a native resolution of 1366 x 768, which serves well, even for movie-watching. What’s good about watching movies on this laptop is that the sound is quite good, and doesn’t blare even at higher volume levels. For watching movies or giving presentations on a larger screen, you have the options of connecting via HDMI and VGA. There are 3 USB ports, a DVD-writer, a 1.3 megapixel webcam and a memory card reader. Connectivity options include Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi N. Finally, the unit ships pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium.
As far as power is concerned, we’d say that it’s a basic laptop meant for mainstream applications, so do not expect much. Nonetheless, it is almost comparable to laptops that feature entry-level Core 2 Duo processors, such as the Intel T4200, which is quite good in its segment.
This laptop mainly targets professionals and students, who want to use basic applications such Microsoft Office, casual Internet surfing, chat, and even some GPU-intensive tasks. This laptop is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce G105M. This means that while you can bank on the processor for handling the basic computing needs, applications that need GPU acceleration, such as creating flash videos and such, can leverage the graphics chip. Considering the ultra-low voltage processor used in this laptop, gaming might seem over the top, nonetheless, considering the discrete GPU, we tried the game benchmarks. At 1024 x 768, at medium settings, Crysis was playable with around 31 fps, and similar was the case with Left 4 Dead. Now, this laptop is by no means, meant for gaming, but the option is open as long as you don’t buy it with high expectations in mind.
The default battery pack has a 4-cell battery, which did not really impress us with a runtime of merely 3 hours and 1 hour 46 minutes under medium and heavy load respectively. So, if you decide to buy this laptop, we recommend you opt for the optional battery pack, which has an 8-cell battery, as opposed to settling for the default. Or else, the whole purpose of having an ultra-portable gets defeated.
In this price, there are laptops that offer the same battery backup with better overall performance, although they are heavier in weight. Nonetheless, if light-weight and solid build quality is your criteria, you’ll like this laptop.
For some the performance of this machine would not justify its Rs. 45,000 price. On the other hand, consider that not all ultra-portables feature discrete graphics, an optical drive, a 250 GB hard drive and 4 GB RAM. Also, ergonomically, not all of them are comfortable to use. While there’s no doubt that this one is slightly overpriced, it is a good balance of performance, features and ergonomics.
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 330 x 31 x 223 mm
- Weight: 1.80 Kg; Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo SU 9400, 1.4 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB DDR3
- Hard disk: 250 GB
- Screen size: 13.3-inch
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth
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