Dell Inspiron 14z: Too Quirky to Be Lovable

20 Oct

The Inspiron 14z–Dell has a lot to like, but a few unconventional design choices kept me from true love. Considering the positives first, the Dell Inspiron 14z is configured with a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M processor, 6GB of DDR3 memory, and a capacious 640GB hard drive. It weighs 4.5 pounds without the power brick and just 5.25 pounds with power brick. It is not much heavy to carry, either. The 1366-by-768-pixel backlit LED screen is bright and seems to render moderately wide viewing angles.

The Inspiron 14z provides and uninspired, soft exterior, but you can also get it in red if black metallic lid is not your choice. Pop opening the lid, a brightly backlit keyboard that’s slightly curving inward into the chassis with an attractive chrome accent around the keyboard. The keyboard design turns out to be a bad choice for touch-typists. While typing on Inspiron’s keyboard, a distinct lack of white space between most of the words is noticed, which makes the accurate typing difficult and fag. The touchpad has its part of problems too mostly because of the buttons. One thing Dell gets right with its touchpads is their lack of oversensitivity. A palm remaining over the touchpad wont send the cursor skittering across the screen.The buttons require relatively much force to push down. That’s two ergonomic strikes against the Inspiron 14z.

The display appears bright, even though colors in digital photos seem little softened. Video, wth upscaled DVD content, lacking the noisiness comparing other systems, looks good. However, Dell defaults to Nero’s SyncUp app for playing back video, and large files streaming across the LAN stutter and pause. Once, after closing SyncUp, the audio continued to play, and only a reboot fixed the issue. Switching video playback to Windows Media Player completely cleared up the problem. Audio sounds really good. Inspiron 14z uses SRS Premium Sound HD, which is relabeled “Dell Audio.” Firing up the SRS control panel and adjusting the SRS 3D Space setting to something minimal–around 20 percent–fixes the imaging issue. At this SRS setting the overall sound quality for music is pleasant enough, if not particularly loud, but your best bet is a good set of headphones.

The performance seems to be equally similar with that of 14-inch laptops, though the Lenovo T420’s Core i5-2520M CPU plus its Nvidia discrete graphics outruns the Dell. Still, the T420 also weighs nearly a pound more.

One more trivial drawback is Inspiron 14z’s insistence on trying to hide its ports beneath flimsy plastic covers, which only serve to restrict access to the ports without really improving the overall appearance. Two USB 3.0 ports and a lone multipurpose audio jack are hidden beneath one cover on the right side, adjacent the DVD drive. The left side contains a single USB 2.0 connector plus HDMI and mini-DisplayPort connectors, along with an SD card slot.

The special edition of the Inspiron 14z ships with 8GB of DDR3 memory and a 640GB, 5400-rpm hard drive. Networking includes 802.11n, gigabit ethernet, and Bluetooth. You can buy an Inspiron 14z preconfigured with Intel’s WiMax adapter if you want wireless broadband.

Overall, the Inspiron 14z is a light, attractive laptop that’s easy to handle and offers good performance for its $599 sale price. However, strange ergonomic choices make this a less than an ideal unit, particularly if you’re a touch-typist.

Source: pcworld


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