The Dell Inspiron 1520 under review here is the latest 15.4” in an ever-growing succession of what can be categorized as “consumer mainstream” notebooks offered by Dell’s Home & Home Office division. Since the release of the 1520, Dell has also made available a very similar machine, the Vostro 1500, which can be purchased from the Small Business site. Unlike the Inspiron 1520, which can be configured with any one of eight different colors, the Vostro 1500 is solid black. The Vostro also provides a Windows XP option, which is unavailable in the Inspiron 1520.
It should also be noted, for the benefit of anyone who is somewhat new to this website, that there is plenty of additional information on the 1520, including an excellent full-featured review by someone who actually purchased the 1520, as well as a side-by-side comparison of the 1520 and the HP dv6500t; this comparison includes a video that is definitely worth watching for anyone considering the Inspiron 1520, the HP dv6500t or any other 15.4” consumer notebook.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Specs:
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 (2.0 GHz/4MB L2 Cache)
* OS: Microsoft Vista Home Premium
* Hard Drive: 160 GB SATA @ 5400RPM
* Screen: 15.4" WSXGA Widescreen (1680 x 1050)
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 256MB
* RAM: 2.0GB DDR2 SDRAM @667 MHz (2 x 1GB)
* Optical Drive: 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/Double Layer Support
* Battery: 9-cell lithium ion >>see more dell laptop battery
* Wireless: Intel 4965AGN
* Weight: 6.4 lbs
* Dimensions: 1.47-1.65” (H) x 14.12 “ (W) x 10.59" (D)
* Ports/Slots: 1 IEEE 1394 (FireWire); 4 Universal Serial Bus (USB 2.0); 8-in-1 Memory Card Reader; VGA Out; S-Video; RJ-45 Ethernet LAN; RJ-11 Modem; ExpressCard 54mm; stereo in, headphone/speaker out and dual digital mics
This Inspiron 1520 weighs about six and a half pounds and is considered a mainstream consumer notebook. Though Dell allows customization of the lid in up to eight different colors, our model has a conservative looking black lid. Because of that our machine lacks some of the consumer flair a “Flamingo Pink” lid would have offered. Nonetheless, my first impressions had to do with a couple of things that distinguish the 1520 from its predecessors:
The overall look is very different, in a good way.
The hardware, particularly in the form of graphics processing, will allow the 1520 to perform about as well as any notebook on the market, with the exception of outlandishly expensive gaming machines that lack any concessions with respect to size, battery life and cost.
These two characteristics are what make the 1520 such an impressive achievement. I actually briefly owned the previous Inspiron generation's e1705 model, and reviewed the prior-generation e1405 thin-and-light notebook. I must say, the look of the current lineup is immeasurably more appealing. The old silver-and-white style always got me thinking of things like shag carpet and popcorn ceilings: sure, one can make a case for these innovations, just as one can make a case for thick white plastic trim around a notebook, but in the end (which usually comes within a matter of weeks if not months), the style grows tired, the initial promise hollow. The new Inspiron series design is cleaner, simpler and more tasteful. A cousin of the 1520, which shares its look, is the AMD-based Inspiron 1521.
Though this notebook was sent by Dell for review purposes and not purchased, I wanted to touch on the above topic, simply because there is something of an art to purchasing a Dell consumer notebook. There are many decisions to make, and like all decisions, they carry with them the opportunity for regret or satisfaction. I heartily endorse this web site’s forums for a little glimpse into the thought, action and subsequent level of satisfaction of other buyers.
As of this writing, deliberately moving along the Dell purchasing highway results in:
An Inspiron 1520 with a fairly basic configuration, but one more than adequate for general media and office tasks, for just over $900.
A deluxe performance configuration, virtually identical to this review machine, for just over $1500.
These prices reflect no special discounts or coupons, just today’s standard upgrades and reductions, which are plainly available to anyone who orders a 1520 today. In any case, at the high end particularly, these prices strike me as very competitive, and a savvy shopper who finds coupons, buys their own memory and times the Dell marketing promotions can do better on price.
One thing I found interesting while configuring a couple of 1520s on the Dell site was the price of a RAM upgrade from 2GB to 4GB: $850. Had I selected a higher-priced starting point, meaning a more full-figured set of warranty and support options, the cost of these 2 gigabytes of RAM would have moved away from the direction of a cool grand, but not by much. I saw no mention of this upgrade including a complimentary iPhone or round-trip flight to London, but it is there and available. That said, I would definitely opt for the T7300 CPU and the 8600M GT graphics included in this review model, if at all possible. While these enhancements will probably add three or four hundred dollars to the final price, they are well worth the cost and will almost certainly give the 1520 a longer useful life.
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