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Dell Inspiron 1525
There are very few brands in the PC industry that enjoy the acclaim and brand loyalty that Dell’s Inspiron range commands. This is a fame richly deserved, for products in this range are often segment leading and offer some of the very best VFM options. Couple it with Dell’s famous warranty options and after-sales service... and you've got yourself a winner.
The Inspiron 1525 is the latest laptop in this lineup. Does it live up to expectations or does it fall by the wayside? Let’s find out.
The 1525 is the direct successor to the rather popular 1520, and improves on that model in a couple of ways. First of all, in a positive step forward, Dell has borrowed elements directly from its XPS range and given the 1525 a tapered shape similar to the XPS M1330/1530. This is a direct departure from the 'fat boy' look of the 1520.
Secondly, the color range/finish options have been expanded and now includes a 'Satin' finish on the lid which gives the laptop a classy look, similar to the XPS M1530. However that remains the only change. Everything else remains the same – the solid construction, the silver matte finish around the LCD panel/keyboard area, and slim squeaky hinges. The build quality also remains the same, with no extra flex anywhere on the body.
The keyboard of the 1525 is also similar to that of the 1520. Anyone who has used the earlier series of Dell laptops (14xx/15xx) will know how good these are. The keys are well spaced out, have a nice matte finish that allows for easy typing, and offer great tactile feedback that makes pounding on the keyboard for hours a non-chore.
My only grouse was that for some reason the keyboard suffered from some strange lag, where the words I typed would register on screen only some seconds later. Despite reinstalling the OS to eliminate any glitches, this problem kept popping up every once in a while and was quite annoying.
In terms of its weight and finish, the laptop is strictly average. It weighs in at a little over 2.8 kilos, and with the 8-cell extended battery, can be a bit ungainly. The lid can be an area of irritation if one chooses to go for the satiny finish, as it’s a fingerprint magnet and seems to attract dust, like bees to honey.
Another thing we like about Dell is that apart from the media control keys, the rest of the keyboard area is clean and does not have any extra keys to accidentally hit with a shirt-sleeve. This is a major annoyance for me on quite a few other laptops. It can be very irritating to have media-center popup in the middle of important work, simply because you 'accidentally' hit a media key.
The touchpad of the 1525 is topnotch. It sports the same silver finish as the rest of the keyboard area, but is nevertheless very well positioned and has a good responsive set of mouse keys. By 'position' I refer to the physical placement of the touchpad. Usually these are placed bang in the center and can sometime get in the way when typing. The one on the 1525 is placed a little more towards the left and falls perfectly in place for manipulation with the thumb, without any need to lift one's hands from the keyboard.
The LCD panel on the 1525 is good, and offers decent levels of contrast, color, and brightness levels. The resolution on offer here is 1280 x 800 (with the standard panel). Dell offers a Tru-Life option on this panel, which increases the resolution to a respectable 1440 x 900 and offers far better levels of brightness, color and contrast. It can cost a fair bit more, if your budget allows it I suggest you simply get this upgrade with your eyes closed – it’s that good.
Wireless and peripheral connectivity have never really been an issue on Dell laptops. The 1525 comes with HDMI, D-SUB and S-Video for video, four USB ports along with FireWire and the standard Ethernet/modem ports. Also included are a 5-in-1 card reader, 8x dual-layer DVD-RW, 2x headphone ports, a mic-port, and 802.11/a/b/g/n support along with a 2MP webcam.
The 1525 comes with variety of options in terms of CPU, storage and system memory. While our system was togged out with 2GB of RAM, a 160GB HDD, and a T7250 (2.0 GHz) processor, one does have the option of getting a T8100/8300 Penryn processor along with 250 GB of storage and more RAM for a better computing experience. The only downside is that the graphics cannot be upgraded and is restricted to Intel GMA X3100 graphical subsystem.
In the benchmark tests, the 1525 performed adequately. It achieved an average PCMark score of 4050 and on 3DMark it hovered around 650 with an occasional spike to 700. These are decent scores. With regard to the battery life, since we had a 9-cell 85 watt battery, we got a very healthy 4½ hours with max battery conservation, and around 4 hours under full performance.
The Inspiron 1525 is a true VFM notebook. It offers solid build, plenty of features, good connectivity options, and great battery life, and is matched by what can easily be termed as the industry’s best after-sales/support network and a very competitive price. A glance at Dell’s website showed our test configuration to cost around Rs 41,000 + taxes. To sum up, the 1525 offers so much value in its price range that other manufacturers can only watch and hope to emulate the feat.