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Dell Inspiron 1000 review

Verdict

The Inspiron may be basic in both design and specification, but it's well built and offers quality where it counts. A tempting buy.

Review Date: 16 Aug 2004

Price when reviewed: (£622 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Notebooks don't come much cheaper than £529 but Dell's Inspiron 1000 looks and feels like a much more expensive laptop. Like the IBM R40e, the black styling gives it a classy air. It's well built and, tipping the scales at 3kg, it isn't too hefty either.

The feeling of quality even extends to the keyboard. Not only is it sensibly laid out, with none of the odd key positioning decisions that plague some budget laptops, but it boasts a reassuringly solid typing action.

The TFT isn't quite so spectacular. Although it measures 15in diagonally across, which ensures that all of its 1,024 x 768 pixels are of a respectable size, it isn't especially bright and doesn't have the widest viewing angles on show either. Overall, though, it's a sound choice for a notebook at this price.

The same can be said for the 30GB hard disk and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. The 27GB of usable capacity means the Inspiron can house its fair share of multimedia files, and if you need to back up your vital data then the quick CD writing - 24x for both CD-R and CD-RW media - will be a boon, particularly when compared to the ThinkPad R40e, which only includes a DVD-ROM drive.

You don't have to dig too deep to find out where Dell has made some sacrifices though. A quick inspection of the outside reveals no FireWire, serial, parallel or PS/2 ports. Only a Type II PC Card slot and three USB 2 ports are on offer. There's no wireless communication either, with both infrared and WLAN absent.

We were pleased to see 256MB of RAM in place, but this laptop is no speed demon due to the 2.2GHz Mobile Celeron. The Inspiron could only manage 0.92 in our benchmarks, and 3D performance from the SiSM650 graphics chip was even worse; you won't be able to play the latest games on this machine.

Fortunately, the Inspiron fared much better in our battery tests. It lasted 75 minutes under intense use, three-and-a-half hours in our light-use test and you should be able to watch a two-hour DVD movie with no problems.

Dell also shows its experience by including a respectable 12-month collect-and-return warranty along with McAfee VirusScan 8 and Works 7 in the box. Overall, the Inspiron is a solid, trustworthy machine. If your budget is this limited, it's a fine choice.

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