Dell Inspiron 1420

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Dell Inspiron 1420
  • Dell Inspiron 1420
  • Dell Inspiron 1420
  • Dell Inspiron 1420

Pros

  • Media Direct, Price, 2 megapixel camera

Cons

  • Windows Vista Basic (not Home Premium), Benchmark performance

Bottom Line

For its price there's little worth complaining about. The Dell Media Direct feature is handy and the 2 megapixel camera is a nice upgrade from the standard 1.3 megapixel option.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 5 stores)

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Dell has launched its latest range with a splash of colour. From the power user's XPS M1330 to the 15in Inspiron 1520 and now the 14in Dell Inspiron 1420, the new Inspiron range brings a touch of life to what are often useful, but occasionally dull looking machines.

Dell's systems are custom built from the Dell website, and our review sample is a basic, low end model for those considering their budget. Inside our crimson red Inspiron is an Intel Centrino Duo T5250 1.5GHz Dual Core CPU with a 667MHz front side bus, 1GB of DDR2 RAM and it runs the Windows Vista Basic operating system.

Based on these specifications alone we weren't expecting a stellar performance from our 1420, but the price is right and it offers a reasonable feature set, as well as a splash of style. If music, movies and a bit of light homework or late night work away from the office are at the forefront of your mind then this should do the job.

The Dell Inspiron 1420 offers Dell Media Direct, a software suite that works in Windows and also in a pre-operating system environment, meaning you can watch movies, view images, listen to music and check contact details without having to boot right into Windows. As this system is running Vista Basic, which lacks Windows Media Center (only Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions include it), the Media Direct software also acts as a replacement of sorts. From Media Direct you can access plenty of media, but it isn't quite as comprehensive.

Also found on the Inspiron 1420 is a 2 megapixel camera with motion detection and face tracking, which is great for video chat or self portrait snaps. If you're watching a movie or listening to music you'll appreciate the media controls above the keyboard. These include stop, play/pause, skip track and volume controls. There's also a media card reader, supporting SD, MMC, MS and MS-Pro media cards.

In our benchmarks we didn't see amazing results, though it's to be expected from this value orientated system. In WorldBench 6 it scored only 57, which shows it will be slower when running heavy duty applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. However, it will handle surfing the Web, writing emails, using Microsoft Office and watching movies without any problems. There's no dedicated graphics card, so gaming is generally out of the question.

In the battery test the Inspiron 1420 performed well. We ran down the battery by looping a DVD; a test we consider to be a worst case scenario. This is because the DVD uses the notebook's optical drive and the speakers, as well as the screen and other core components. In the DVD test the Inspiron 1420 lasted a solid 158 minutes, but will last longer still under normal working conditions.

The 14in screen offers a resolution of 1280 x 800 and has reasonable brightness and contrast, but not the best we've encountered. The viewing angle isn't ideal but it's certainly satisfactory. The speakers won't replace your stereo but they're fine for watching movies or listening to music at low volumes. Overall the build quality of the unit is fairly good, though it does seem a little flimsy in places and certainly doesn't compare with its XPS brethren. Its keyboard is comfortable to type on and the touchpad is responsive, though the mouse buttons feel a little clunky.

A full set of four USB 2.0 ports are available and a mini FireWire port is also included. Both VGA and S-Video ports are installed for video output and a set of audio jacks is present on the front edge of the unit. The DVD drive is a DVD re-writer and also offers dual layer support. Only an 80GB hard drive is included here, but that will suffice for most. For networking there's an Ethernet port, a 56k modem and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g.

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