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Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook

The Inspiron 14z combines great design and performance with an affordable price.

With its brushed aluminium finish, durable construction and thin profile, the Dell Inspiron 14z is a highly portable laptop that combines great design with strong performance and an affordable price.

The Inspiron 14z is one of the new breed of laptops that fall under chipmaker’s Intel’s Ultraportable classification. Ultrabooks are designed to be portable, fast and energy-efficient laptops that fill the void between tablets and larger laptop PCs.

To qualify as an Ultrabook, laptops must be thin (less than 20mm thick) and light (less than 2kg). They must be powered by an energy-efficient Intel processor and have a lengthy battery life, as well as instant-on and instant-resume capabilities so you’re not waiting an age for your laptop to boot up. Overall performance is also helped by the requirement that Ultrabooks must boot from solid state disks upon startup, although they can also include traditional spinning hard disks for storing the bulk of your files.

The good news is that whereas a laptop with many of these specifications could previously set you back over £1,000, manufacturers such as Dell have been working to ensure that newer models are able to boast impressive performance and an affordable price. The Inspiron 14z is a case in point – it’s available in a range of configurations, but the entry-level model we tested costs just £529 including VAT and delivery.

Performance

Like all configurations of the Inspiron 14z, the £529 model we tested ships with one of the latest generation of Intel processors – the Core i3. Also included in the entry-level model is 6GB of memory.

This provides plenty of performance for everyday computing tasks, so if you’re looking for a family laptop for web browsing and watching videos, and using productivity software such as Microsoft Office, the entry-level version is likely to fit the bill.

There are plenty of options if you need more power to drive demanding applications like photo-editing software, however. The 14z is also available with Intel’s i5 and i7 processors, the latter being the top end of Intel’s range, and up to 8GB of memory.

Dell has ensured that all versions of the Inspiron 14z are secure out of the box – each model ships with 15 months’ McAfee antivirus protection, ensuring you don’t need to pay for security software.

Design

At just 21mm and weighing 1.92kg, the Inspiron 14z Ultrabook is super-slim for a 14in laptop. It fits easily into a bag or rucksack and can be comfortably moved around the home by smaller children.

The laptop has a smart but simple chassis with rounded corners and matte plastic edging. The build quality is good and the overall construction is solid enough for everyday computing usage.

On the sides are two USB ports - you can connect printers, external keyboards, mice and a number of other peripherals via the fastest version of the USB standard, USB 3.0.

Also included is a DVD drive, an SD card reader, an Ethernet port and an HDMI-out port allowing you to connect the laptop to a TV. However, if you’re planning to watch TV and videos on the laptop’s screen, rather than connecting to an external TV, you won’t be disappointed by the Inspiron 14z’s bright, widescreen HD, 1366 x 768 resolution display. Above the screen is an HD, 1-megapixel webcam allowing you to make video calls with excellent clarity using services such as Skype.

The keyboard has isolated keys – they’re spaced a little further apart than many laptop keys, which helps avoid accidentally hitting the adjacent key to the one you’re looking for.

In front of the keyboard, in the centre of the keyboard deck, is a large, matte trackpad that’s multitouch capable. The trackpad itself is accurate and easy to use, while the two large discrete mouse buttons are easy to press.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a thin, light laptop with an optical drive that will handle common productivity tasks with ease, the Inspiron 14z is a great choice. Dell's new Inspiron 14z combines strong performance and great looks with an affordable price.

See details of the full Dell Inspiron 14z range

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