In recent months we had seen several hybrid devices running on Windows 8 with touch screen and removable keyboards like the Samsung ATIV Pro Smart PC and Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 or Dell’s own Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook. Now a days, it seems like manufacturers are now stressing more on making Portable Notebooks with touch screen running on Windows 8. Today we are going to review one such Ultrabook from Dell, named as “Dell Inspiron 15z.” This is a new redesigned and slimmed down edition of Dell’s earlier Inspiron 15 laptop with improved hardware and enhanced features.
Featuring a 15.6-inch HD display with 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, Inspiron 15z comes with power packed configuration that consists Intel Core i7-3537U processor running at 2GHz and 8GB of RAM with Nvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB graphics card. Other component includes 1 Megapixel HD camera with 500GB Sata Hard Drive and built-in 8x DVD+-RW drive. Available at a price of Rs.79,990/- this could be one of the best laptop available at the moment with large multi-touch display and Windows 8 Home Edition because it fits for all type of user including officials, gamers and average users.
Let’s find out how impressive Inspiron 15z is but before going for the same have a look at its specification list:
- Operating System: Windows 8 Single Language, English (64bit)
- Display: 15.6 inch LED Backlit Touch Display with Truelife and HD resolution (1366 x 768)
- Processor: 3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3537U processor (4M Cache, up to 3.1 GHz, Discrete Graphics Card)
- Memory: 8GB 2 DIMM (4GB x 2) DDR3 1600Mhz
- Chipset: Mobile Intel HM77 Express Chipset
- Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB
- Hard Drive: Up to 500GB6 SATA hard drive (5400RPM)
- Optical Drive: Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes DVD)
- Battery: 6-Cell 44 WHr Battery (built-in)
- Camera: Integrated 1.0 mega pixel widescreen HD (1280 x 720)
- Wireless: Dell Wireless 1703 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.0+LE. Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230, 802.11b/g/n + BT4.0
- Audio and Speakers: Waves MaxxAudio4 processing / Skullcandy speakers 4W = 2 x 2W
- Keyboard / Touchpad: Standard backlit, full-size, spill-resistant keyboard / Multi-Touchpad with integrated scrolling & gestures to support Windows 8
- Connectivity Ports: (3) USB 3.0 + (1) USB 3.0 PowerShare, RJ45 Ethernet, (10/100/1000), HDMI v1.4a, Headphone / Microphone Combo Jack, Kensington Security Lock, AC Power In & 8-in-1 Media Card Reader
Although sleek in design, Dell Inspiron 15z is a bit difficult to carry along because of its huge size and heavy weight. Weighing 2.17kg (4.78 lbs), it has a dimension of 20.9mm x 382mm x 250mm (H-W-D). However the weight is surprisingly high because the laptop looks quite sleek in design. Today when users are more interested in buying tablet pc’s because of their compact size and multi rich features, Inspiron 15z appears to big and bulkier. However it won’t be correct to compare this device with tablets but it is still heavier and bulkier then other Ultrabooks we have seen so far. But this is only until you want to carry, if the Ultrabook is kept on your tablet, it looks too smart with sleek design, backlit keyboard and brushed aluminum finish and offers much more than Tablet PCs.
Dell Inspiron 15z is packed with a premium gray brushed-aluminum packaging with a silvery matte finishing that makes it look good and stylish. However the chassis is made up of premium plastic material which might be the issue as per durability. All edges are rounded from all four corners. All connectivity ports are divided on left and the right side of the body with full-size wide chiclet keyboard having backlit that makes the typing comfortable at night as well as in dark rooms. Over all Inspiron 15z looks stylish and slim compared to other 15-inch screen ultrabooks but the only concern is its durability because of the low build quality but I guess this was done to cut out the cost. Let’s find out how impressive the screen is provided with the ultrabook.
The new Dell Inspiron 15z Ultrabook comes with 15.6 inch LED Backlit Touch display. Resolution offered here is 1366 x 768 which sounds good for watching HD Movies or playing high graphical video games. The display is said to be multi-touch but it is not as good as other displays that we have tested in the past. Another problem with the screen is its highest resolution which is 1366 x 768 that makes things look bigger and bloated. It is obviously not good for the stuffs we do today. Apart from this if we talk about touch responsiveness, it is no doubt very good. No matter you are doing web browsing or playing with Windows, checking email, viewing and editing your pictures and movies, switching between apps, sliding the charm bar or pinching in or out, touch is very good and responsive.
Compared to other laptops with the same configuration and display like the Asus VivoBook S400, Dell’s screen seems to be brighter and better with vibrant colors. Watching movies or pictures with any contrast level was fun on this screen. Also while web browsing; you will not face any difficulty reading the text, though the zooming in and out makes it much comfortable, the website looks fine, nice and sharp to read. So in short, apart from the multi-touch and resolution I love the Truelife HD display for carrying out my office tasks, web browsing or for multimedia purpose.
Hardware / Configuration:
Although Dell Inspiron 15z is a sleek and slim Ultrabook, it is powered with high end configuration that allows you to carry out almost any task you want to include. It is powered with 3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3537U processor clocked at 2GHz and 8GB DDR3 RAM (4GB x 2) @1600Mhz. With such high processing power and huge memory, running multiple heavy applications like Adobe CS6 or Roxio Creator NXT Pro altogether is not at all a problem. We tested running few more complex applications along with these two at the same time and were surprised to see the performance without a single lag or freezing problems.
Furthermore the integrated Nvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB graphics card even attracts the Gamers. We tried running some recently launched high graphical video games such as Sniper Ghost Warrior 2, Prototype 2, Max Payne 3 and DARK 2013. The gaming performance was not upto the mark but it was good to enjoy. We will talk more about the gaming details in the gaming section below. As of now let’s have a look at the results of PC Mark 7 ran on this ultrabook:
Moving on, let’s have a look at its Keyboard and Touchpad.
Keyboard / TouchPad:
Though Dell Inspiron 15z looks sleek in design but it comes with Full Sized keyboard with chiclet keys having backlit lights allowing you to type comfortably even in dark room. Each key has enough space between them to prevent typing error. However they haven’t provided the Number pad separately, you will need to use the Function keys for typing numerical texts. Dell also provides a large multi-touch touchpad which is too responsive and allows comfortable point-and-click navigation. Although you can zoom/pinch in and out using the touch screen, but in case if you want then you can have the same good zoom/pinch in and out from the touch pad as well. It also contains two mouse buttons for left and right clicks.
Apart from this we also get Dell’s three utility buttons at the top right of the keypad which includes Windows Mobility Centre, Wave MaxxSense control panel and Instant launch manager. Using the first (Windows Mobility Centre) Key you can carry out several important customizations and tasks such as Display brightness, enable disable Function keys or Touchpad and Bluetooth, configure second display and many more. While the second key allows you to enhance the laptop Audio using the MaxxSense and finally the Launch Manager allows you to assign any tasks to the key that can be accessed with one tap such as muting speakers, turning off the display, connecting to network or assigning app to be launched and many more.
Apart from these Dell has kept the power button separately on the top left of the keypad. Overall I liked the keyboard, touchpad and the key placement. You can type comfortably keeping your palm on the space provided around the touchpad. Its backlit lights make the laptop look more attractive that offers better typing experience even in dim light environment.
I already said above that Inspiron 15z may depress you for once in Gaming but it is too good for other official tasks and Multimedia purpose. With good processing power, 2GB GPU and large bright screen, you will love to watch HD Videos on this laptop. The Audio is not very good but it is enough to listen if you are watching video in a quiet environment or at home. Inspiron 15z comes with Skullcandy speaker which is placed below the chassis but it won’t get blocked because of the curved finishing. In order to enhance the Audio you can use the Wave MaxxSense control panel using the utility key provided at the top right of the keyboard.
The same stands for Music Player. You can enjoy music without any use of headphones but it will be robust. If you are a music lover better buy a headphone or external speakers with woofer and bass. Dell has also provided a 1 Megapixel camera above the screen using which you can make video calls at HD 1280 x 720 pixel quality. Laptop comes with built-in Microphone too.
Dell Inspiron 15z is definitely not a Gaming laptop but surprisingly we found it good in gaming as well during the test. The Ultrabook comes with integrated 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT630M graphics which is obviously not the premium chipset but still it manages to run several high end games such as Sniper Ghost Warrior 2, Prototype 2, Max Payne 3 and DARK, as I mentioned above, very well. Few of these games were lagging a bit while playing at the highest graphic settings while others run fine. If you want to play any high graphical games like Crysis 2 or similar, you can play it on Medium or Low settings with resolution of 1,280 x 720 comfortably. We also ran 3Dmark test and the score we got for Dell Inspiron 15z is as follow:
If you have a bit knowledge of playing with graphics settings, keeping the resolution at 1,280×720, setting 4x anti-aliasing and Medium or High settings, you can get about 32fps gameplay which is obviously interesting and surprising for a non-gaming laptop like the model we are testing. So along with your professional work and multimedia, you can also enjoy an average gaming on Inspiron 15z Ultrabook.
Dell Inspiron 15z offers you a better and wide range of connectivity options which are divided on both sides of the laptop. We get 2 USB 3.0 ports, 8-in-1 Memory Card Reader and a re-writable DVD drive on the right side of the laptop.
While at the left side we get a 3.5mm Headphone Jack, 2 more USB 3.0 Ports, a HDMI output, a gigabit ethernet port, Kensington Security Lock and the charger port.
One interesting part out of those four USB ports, one is a USB 3.0 with PowerShare which means you can charge your smartphones, tablets, etc; using the port even when the laptop is powered down. It is placed on the left side of the laptop just next to the HDMI port. Apart from this Dell Inspiron 15z allows you to connect over Bluetooth v4.0+LE and WiFi 2.4GHz 802.11n. In order to extend the display or use Dual Monitor you will require connecting through HDMI.
This is where I was disappointed with Dell Inspiron 15z. If you are taking the laptop out of the office or home, carrying the charger along is mandatory. Powered with 44WHr 6-cell battery, the Ultrabook offers you battery life of upto 5 hours or even lesser if you are playing video games or watching movies continuously. Another negative point of the laptop I noticed during the test was the battery keeps draining even when it is set in hibernation mode. So this means when you put the laptop in hibernation, though the battery is at 100%, but if you come back after hours and start the laptop, you will find the battery on 20% to 30%.
This may sound like an issue but according to the configuration and specification, 5 hours battery life is reasonable. It has a passable battery life, managing five hours and 28 minutes in our light use battery test. We’d obviously prefer longer, but given the hardware inside, this is a decent result. But still I will suggest that Dell Inspiron 15z is not for the travelers unless you have a charging source.
At a price of Rs.79,990/- Dell Inspiron 15z is one of the best Laptops available at the moment with Touch Screen and Windows 8. The laptop offers better touch response, good processing power of 3rd Generation Core i7-3537U and better multitasking with 8GB RAM. It can be also appealing for gamers with its built-in Nvidia GeForce GT630M 2GB graphics card. The laptop allows you to run multiple heavy applications at the same time or any high graphical games without lag or free, however you may require changing some settings in the Graphic control panel.
Inspiron 15z comes in 4 variants out of which the one we are reviewing today is the superior one with best specification; also it is the costliest one. Compared to other brand like Asus Vivobook S400, Inspiron 15z is priced a bit high but that doesn’t matter because of the performance that it provides. Apart from the processing power and GPU we also get 15.6 inch HD multi-touch display with better connectivity options like WiFi, Bluetooth and PowerShare USB port. The only problem with this laptop is its battery. You only get upto 5 hours of battery life or even lesser than that on high usage. So carrying the charger or other power source always is mandatory.
- Sleek design
- Large and bright display
- Better Multimedia performance
- Comfortable keyboard and responsive touchpad
- Poor battery life
- Too heavy to carry as an Ultrabook
- Average Gaming performance