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Dell Inspiron 1318 review

Verdict

Want a desirable 13.3in laptop for less than £500? Look no further than Dell's talented 13.3-incher.

Review Date: 5 Dec 2008

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £383 (£440 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Four hundred pounds (exc VAT) isn't exactly a huge amount of money to spend on a laptop but, up until fairly recently, most fully-fledged laptops at this price shared one niggling trait - their bulk. Indeed, wander into PC World with £400 clutched in your hand and you're likely to find an extensive array of 3kg, 15.4 inch laptops and, right next door, just a handful of more compact models squatting meekly beside.

Thankfully, times are changing. Packard Bell led the charge last month with its headline grabbing EasyNote BG45-U-300 boasting a 12.1in screen and an ultraportable body for just £281, and now Dell is hot on its heels.

Its latest model, the Inspiron 1318, is a 13.3in laptop for just £383. And, in a departure from its usual direct-selling approach, Dell is retailing its new Inspiron exclusively through DSGi group's PC World, Dixons et al, so it's easy to actually see the laptop in the flesh before splashing your cash.

With no recourse to customise its specification the Inspiron 1318 does lose some of the traditional Dell allure but it's still got plenty going for it. From the moment we laid eyes on it one thing was obvious - the design of the Inspiron 1318 pays a rather unsubtle homage to Dell's own premium 13.3-incher, the XPS M1330. In fact, the Inspiron 1318 looks more than a little like Dell left its Inspiron 1525 and XPS M1330 laptops in a room together, pumped Barry White albums in through the wireless and waited nine months to see what transpired.

Suffice it to say, the Inspiron 1318 is a very good looking budget laptop. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the aluminium lid and wrist-rest of the XPS M1330 have been dumped to keep costs down, but what's left is far from offensive. The lid is finished in a rich, dark blue gloss while the interior is shod top to toe in contrasting gloss and matte black plastic. It's not the epitomy of style, sure, but for a budget laptop it's rather dapper.

Build quality is more of a mixed bag. The display feels just a touch too creaky and flexible under duress, but the chassis barely distorts in the slightest. Its resilience pays dividends elsewhere, too, with a keyboard that many pricier laptops would do well to imitate. Stretched right to the very edges of the chassis, the keyboard boasts full-sized keys with only the Home cluster neatly rearranged vertically along its right hand edge.

The Inspiron 1318 fares well against even the best 15.4in budget laptops. Ergonomically there's very little to complain about and, what's more, it cuts a substantially slighter figure. The 1318's 318 x 238 x 40mm frame still dwarfs the average netbook but in tandem with its 2.2kg weight, is still pretty light. Fine battery life, which soars to four-and-a-half hours under light usage, cements the 1318's travelling credentials.

Of course, look to the core specification lurking inside the Inspiron 1318 and you'll get some idea how Dell managed to hit such an attractive price tag. The processor is an Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2390 running at 1.86GHz and this is accompanied by 2GB of DDR2 RAM - so far, so very ordinary. Performance is good enough for a budget laptop, though, and while the Dell is no speed demon a result of 0.86 in our benchmarks promises enough grunt for most office jobs and even the odd bit of video editing or transcoding.

The integrated Intel X3100 graphics put paid to any serious gaming power, however, with the Dell struggling to an average of five frames per second in even the least demanding of our Crysis tests. Older games will prove less of a burden, but you can all but forget about playing the latest titles.

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