Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook; World’s Slimmest Laptop? (Review)

With the Inspiron 14z ultrabook, I must admit that Dell’s attempt at creating the most affordable and ultimate ultrabook laptop (notebook) has worked fairly well. They have managed to give it an enticing price tag, while bestowing it with decent amount of power and a fairly sophisticated finish. It is recommended to those who will be buying their first ultrabook on a budget. Dell is undoubtedly one of the oldest and trust-worthy computer hardware vendors in the market but they are facing a lot of competition in the recent past. And with Inspiron 14z ultrabook, it certainly look like that Dell is here to stay!

Build & Design: Chassis, Keyboard, Trackpad

This beauty is full of curves. With little bit of plastic playing nice with Aluminum, the body of Dell Inspiron 14z ultrabook is very much tempting (much like the upcoming array of laptop hybrids). This weighs 4.2 pounds and is the lightest 14-inch laptop I’ve tested recently. The 14z’s keyboard is spill-proof — and comes equipped with hassle-free use for frequent coffee drinkers or for folks with toddlers — but its island-style keys are too small, too widely spaced, and too soft to the touch. As a result, speed of usage and accuracy are sacrificed for quietness. So if you ask me, the keyboard is a major letdown. Keys are beautiful, rounded and mushy which feels good to the hand. But, while typing, the tininess makes it tough for the user. Dell could have done something better with the keyboard or else they should have struck to their old keyboards. The experiment with the keyboard does not really make it easy for the user.

The large, matte trackpad is located in the center of the keyboard area The trackpad is pretty accurate but a bit little too sensitive. In my tests, the mouse jumped around every time I touched the trackpad. After spending some time, however, I found the trackpad (which is multitouch-capable) pretty easy to use. The two large discrete mouse buttons on the trackpad are soft and easy to press, but seem a little flimsy.

Hardware: CPU, Memory, Disk Space, Connectivity

The one which I was reviewing boasts a 1.7GHz third-generation Core i5 (Ivy Bridge), 500GB HDD, 4GB of RAM and Intel HD Series 4000 Graphics. Ports cover only the basics: one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, full-size Ethernet, SD card reader, and HDMI out. However, there’s also an integrated optical drive, another ultrabook oddity.

The Inspiron 14z comes with a couple of USB 3.0 ports, a microphone/headphone combo jack, an SD- and Memory-Stick-compatible flash card reader, HDMI port and a 100M bit Ethernet port. The HDMI, Ethernet and the USB Port on the left hand side are covered with these weird flaps that get in the way of plugging things in. I personally never liked flaps on the ports, be it on the cell phones or on the laptops.

Battery

Talking about the battery, it is magnificent. With the performance and the fastness it does offer a better battery backup than its predecessors. With solid 3.5 hours of battery life for a Movie playback is definitely good for a laptop of this range. Monitor is thin, thinner would be a better word. There is nothing big about the display. But, with a 1366 X 768 resolution, the monitor does its work quite well.

There are these hardware buttons on the top right corner of the screen which I kinda liked. These are new in its kind; One customizable, one to load laptop settings and one to change the audio profile.

Gaming, Multimedia Support

The Inspiron 14z’s GPU raises its gaming capabilities to an extent in 3D capabilities. In our Max Payne graphics tests, the 14z delivered an acceptable frame rate of 42.1 frames per second (at 800-by-600-pixel resolution and low quality settings). The 14z isn’t a match for hard core gamers but comparing other ultrabooks available in market, this one cuts the deal.

High definition HD video plays quite well and the sound is better with the inclusion of MaxxAudio from Dell. but, the low volume problem exists. However, if you don’t really care for this aspect the listening on the earphones is flawless.

The Bottom Line

The Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook is a praiseworthy attempt to make an affordable ultrabook. It is actually a thin, light, general-purpose laptop with Ultrabook aspirations and an optical drive. Thanks to its Ivy Bridge processor, discrete graphics card, and 8GB of RAM, the Inspiron 14z delivers respectable performance, but Dell surrenders style and hardware integrity in the bargain.

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