back to article Our Vulture strokes Dell's ROBUST 15 INCHER: Inspiron 15 Core i7

The appeal of replacing your desktop is not exactly hard to appreciate. For me, a big screen, decent sized keyboard and a measure of portability, all add up to deliver one thing: convenience. So here I am with Dell’s latest Inspiron 15 7000 series laptop and, curiously enough, it is on my lap, all 2.6kg of it. Dell Inspiron 15- …

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What's on the screen?

In the photos illustrating the reflective nature of the screen it looks like it's scratched or there's something stuck to it in a couple of places.

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Re: What's on the screen?

On closer inspection, those artefacts appear to be reflections of light fittings, or similar. These days, a lot of product promotion images are computer-generated renders - it saves time faffing around in a photographic studio, adjusting the lighting, wiping fingerprint smears off the product etc.

Of course this is a review, not a product promotion.

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Re: What's on the screen?

Indeed! Hadn't considered that as they seem an unusual shape, but they do in fact seem to match up with the end of the fluorescent tube reflections.

Have an up vote.

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Re: What's on the screen?

Looks more like someone didn't peel the protective plastic off the screen...

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I bought this exact model (7537) recently as I want to replace my 5yo Samsung laptop that had seen me through Uni.

Really like it so far, bit of a hefty thing but I don't mind it really. The main criteria I wanted it for was at least an Haswell i5, 8GB and 1080p display. Only downside (or upside) was that to get the 8GB RAM & the 1080p display I had to pick the i7 option. There still doesn't seem to be many laptops out there that will do it at the price I wanted. Every fricking laptop seems to be perennially stuck with that stupid 1366x768 resolution. My 5yo laptop already had 1280x800!

Plus after having checked the Owners Manual on Dell's site I found I can upgrade the HDD to an SSD at a later stage. Can't really do that on most Ultrabook-style laptops unless you pick it at time of purchase.

Only downsides for me personally is that the track pad can be a bit stupid and not always picking up or registering 2-finger scrolls and the Intel Wi-Fi on-board can be a bit hesitant at times to connect to Wi-Fi even though it looks like it has done. Still having to get used to the keyboard being shifted to the left due to the extra number pad which I didn't have on my previous one.

Otherwise it's a smashing bit of kit for the price and will easily last me another 3-5 years I plan on keeping it.

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I too have exactly the same model as reviewed. Excellent lappy. I'll be putting an SSD in there in a year or so but for now it's perfect for the money - the screen in particular. No Wi-Fi issues for me at all. All the usual suspects; Visual Studio, Photoshop, etc.. run just as you would expect.

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Thanks for reporting on the Linux suitability.

On another point, the offset touchpad, numeric keypad and several other aspects, including HD screen/15.6 " remind me of several no-name laptops I'm researching to buy OS free.

Are offset touchpads common now ?

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Re: Are offset touchpads common now ?

It seems to happen when there is a numeric keypad, yes.

I'd quite like the touchpad to be at the end near where I would use the mouse - so I did not keep moving the cursor while touch typing.

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Annoyingly they (stupidly offset touchpads) are not just common but almost universal. Which is especially annoying on machines that don't even have a numeric keypad!

One big thing in Dell's favour is that though they may not supply manuals with the machine, they usually have a good manual available online which actually covers disassembly and repair... I'm quite used to doing without, but it's definitely nice to know exactly what your best plan of attack is rather than going by guesswork and feel.

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Personally, I hate numeric pads. They skew everything to the left. One of the reasons I use X-series Lenovos is that everything is symmetrical around the centreline (and no touchpad - another major benefit!)

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Not too bad for the money...

Not sure about the touch screen though, but other than that - there are several people i know who would like it.

I agree that Apple should have a look at more USB ports on laptops!!

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Why the angst about quad-core

Apart from bragging rights? Most software struggles to make use of more than one core, so unless you're setting off some massive compile job and then watching a movie while it runs in the background, I'm not sure a quad-core does much apart from generate heat and run the battery down a bit faster.

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Re: Why the angst about quad-core

Its 2013, not 2003. Most modern PC software is multithreading and takes advantage of multicore. Browsers, developer tools, image and video processing (which often also use a GPU for computation). The other benefit of quad core designs is with well thought out power management they can do at least as well as dual core for power consumption (although I don't know how true that is in practice for Haswell generation or latest AMD).

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I was looking at this laptop to replace my ageing 15" Core 2 Duo laptop which is basically the same size but fatter. Everything looks great, full hd res, backlit keyboard, suitable graphics chip, plenty of ram, upgradeable ram + hard disk I even forgave it the fact that it's 15" rather than the 13-14" I'd really like but then the processor.

WTF not even the better specced dual core offerings? Surely a chassis of this size can fit in something better after all the regular 13" Macs manage it. I think I'll pass until they upgrade the processor as I just can't see it lasting as well as my 5yr old current laptop.

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"WTF not even the better specced dual core offerings?"

Have you had a look on the Dell website? There are dual core options

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Yes I have in fact they are dual core parts but specifically they are the ultra low voltage parts normally used in ultrabooks (as mentioned in the review). Have you looked on the Apple site where you'll see that the Macbook Pros use the much faster 37W parts hence better specced offerings.

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Thanks! Will have a look

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Joke

" in the hand this 15-incher looks a good deal bigger than this"

An elephant in the picture would have helped with scale, better not use a mouse though.... It might scare away the elephant.

/very silly joke

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JDX
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Performance, 17"

I'm not sure I would have been quick to criticise a laptop with 8Gb RAM, a 2GB GPU and an i7 for not being well-specced!

Also, good to see there are still some decent 17" options out there, it seemed like that size was being killed off the last few years but for me it would be essential in a desktop replacement.

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Flame

Oh Dear

Screen less functional for documents and more tiring on eyes than a 2002 Dell Inspiron 8200, 1600 x 1200 ultrasharp anti glare screen.

When are we going to get laptops again with decent antiglare 1200 lines or better screens and 4:3 to save weight and width?

I don't buy a laptop to watch video. I've watched less than 10hrs full screen video on a laptop ever probably. The TV is better.

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JC_

Re: Oh Dear

And I've spent many hours with two documents snapped left & right - for this a widescreen aspect is perfect. Apple still do 4:3 some screens if that's your preference, but I suspect there's something for you to moan about there, too.

Horses for courses, but god it gets tiresome to see the 4:3 trope dragged out on every review...

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Re: Oh Dear

Some people want to like 'do stuff' and can't be bothered to watch movies (the reason for HD screens)

My 17in laptop when docked at home drives two 1920x1200 screens rotated to give 2400x1920.(not 4:3 but close) Perfect!

If I want to watch a movie than I'll do it on my tablet.

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Gotta love El Reg for always doing the "does it run Linux" thing.

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Well... actually, we commentards had to nag them into doing it. But to their credit, they are now doing it.

Thank you, reviewers.

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Anonymous Coward

LOL MacBook Pro

Wow that looks like a really sad attempt to copy a MBP.

Is Dells new motto Imitate don't Innovate?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LOL sad MacBookPro copy

Including the now all too common, MacBookPro-style, miserable "chiclet" keyboard.

I'm sorry, but I'm sick of trendy outweighing common sense on this topic. Every reviewer just seems to LOVE those miserable keyboards, even proclaiming them "excellent" in some reviews. There is no such thing as an "excellent" flat, unsculpted, less than full travel square-key 'chiclet' keyboard, and I'm sick and tired of the media trying to make us believe that is not true. We killed off chiclets in the 80's yet, somehow, once they come in a package with a shiny fruit on the cover we are supposed to go all fangirl over them.

Apple is NOT [my] savior and I'll ask them to keep their crappy design trends out of my products.

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Re: LOL sad MacBookPro copy

Having been a heavy laptop user for the past 10 years I now find full size keyboards awkward and horrible to type on.

I currently run a Dell XPS 15 which has a similar keyboard to this one. It is very nice to type on and an improvement on my older Dell. The separation between the keys and their shape makes for quite a pleasant typing experience. There isn't much if any flex either which is nice.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LOL sad MacBookPro copy

> > There is no such thing as an "excellent" flat, unsculpted, less than full travel square-key 'chiclet' keyboard

> Having been a heavy laptop user for the past 10 years I now find full size keyboards awkward and horrible to type on.

Seriously? I just love the Thinkpad keyboards that Lenovo have stopped doing for the last two iterations (W530 and W540) so my next upgrade is going to force me into chiclet land. And 16:9. Sigh.

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Re: LOL sad MacBookPro copy

keep their crappy design trends out of my products.

My products? Seriously?

Are apple coming round to your house at the dead of night and surreptitiously fitting components you don't want to your tech?

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XPS 15

No doubt Dell has something sportier tucked away for you to spend your money on, but it's probably not as slim – nor as stylish – as the Inspiron 15

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Anonymous Coward

Re: XPS 15

I've a 2011 XPS 15 and would be completely happy with it except for one thing, when I recently upgraded from Win 8 to 8.1 the integrated webcam stopped working. Chasing this with Dell support I was pointed to a page http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/19/KCS/KcsArticles/ArticleView?docid=575111 that informed me that Dell do not support Windows 8.1 for the machine, only Windows 8 on this two year old system. Not even any explanation of why 8.1 was a problem.

On Dell support forum, their rep proposes the solution is to downgrade to 8.0, apparently ignorant of the fact that Microsoft markets 8.1 as an essential update to 8.0.

Everything except the webcam seems to work - a little digging and appears the webcam driver was written to some old XP era specification, not properly adapted to Windows 7 and later requirements.

Illustrates the very cavalier attitude to support by Dell. They buy in some bargain hardware, don't sign up the supplier to provide driver support so down the line leave the customer with non-working functions. The drivers aren't open source so we can't even spend the few hours to fix the problems ourselves.

Its this kind of attitude of OEMs that make Apple look professional and the decision of Microsoft to move into PCs like the Surface Pro understandable.

Dell aren't alone in this, other OEMs can have shockingly poor driver support. Just something to be wary of.

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Re: XPS 15

"Illustrates the very cavalier attitude to support by Dell. They buy in some bargain hardware, don't sign up the supplier to provide driver support so down the line leave the customer with non-working functions."

I recall something similar with Dell, Creative sound cards, and Vista back in 2007. It wasn't that Creative hadn't updated the drivers in that case, it was that (for whatever reason) Dell weren't going to update their website with the new drivers, and the whole thing revolved around the fact that the sound card supplied by Dell pretended to be an OEM card. I suspect that because the drivers were specific to this supposedly OEM part (probably just the graphics on the driver control panel and installers), Creative had a techncially compatible update, but Dell wouldn't pay for the additional work to add the Dell logos.

With some messing about on the Creative web site it was possible to get properly working drivers, but you needed to take the cover off the Dell machine to see what Creative model number the sound card had - nowhere did Dell help you out with this. Incidentally the same sound card is now doing service in an otherwise new i5 gaming machine runnning Win 8.1, without a hiccup.

Might be worth persevering, and seeing if you can establish who the camera was made by, because they may have a working 8.1 driver that Dell simply aren't providing on the support web site.

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Unhappy

So heavy to carry and not very good if you're a touch typist

Much like every other laptop then.

Nice screen.

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Personally ....

I'd suggest using pc.co.uk (aka pcspecialist.co.uk) instead, you can customize your chosen PC, laptop etc to your hearts content, and the specs for the price points, are way better than any of the "named" machines are offering.

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Stop

£700 - I think not

A quick glance at the Dell website and the price is £799, is it worth the extra £100 quid or was this a "special review" price?

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Offset touchpads and screen res

Just stop it, ok? I don't care if you think a numeric keypad gets in the way. Just stop.

Well done for the ethernet port though!

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Can anyone tell my why

....so many PC laptops have the touchpad offset to the left?

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