Dell Inspiron 17R review
It may have a dedicated graphics card, a pair of USB3 ports and a decent set of speakers, but it's the Inspiron 17R's 17in 1,600x900 screen that makes it great value for money
Review Date: 23 Feb 2012
Price when reviewed: £529
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
If you're a movie buff, you want the biggest, brightest and most colourful screen available for your money, and in this test that’s the Dell Inspiron 17R, the only laptop with a 17in screen. On top of that, it has an SRS-boosted sound system with a subwoofer, a 640GB hard disk, and two fast USB3 ports for fast transfer of files from external storage.
Of course, the larger screen means a larger, heavier laptop, and at 3.2kg the 17R isn't likely to accompany you on many trips, even if it can last five hours away from the mains. You won't want to hide it away, either, because its metallic finish and graceful curves are worth showing off. The design isn't just aesthetically pleasing either, because Dell has placed most of the ports on or towards the rear of the case so that they don't get in the way of an attached mouse.
Unusually for a 17in screen, the 17R's display has a 1,600x900 resolution, giving you more desktop space, almost enough to place two windows side by side. The screen has a bright and even LED backlight, but there's a definite yellow cast. This adds warmth to images but it can be a pain if you need accurate colours. Contrast isn't as good as we expected and that, along with the cast, meant that images looked slightly faded. Vertical viewing angles are very tight, as they are with all laptop screens. The glossy finish on the screen reflects any light sources behind the user, so you'll have to adjust the screen's tilt carefully to get the best picture and avoid reflections.
Most laptops have awfully tinny speakers that aren't well suited to watching movies, but Dell has included some beefy speakers, including a subwoofer, and added SRS sound enhancement technology as well. The result is far louder than other laptop speakers, and although the bass doesn't go as low as we'd like, it's still far more than you'll get elsewhere.
While the Intel Core i3-2330M processor produces fairly average results, the Nvidia GeForce GT 525M graphics card is quite a bit faster than the other laptops here, scoring 37fps in our Dirt3 benchmark at 1,280x720, dropping to 28fps at its native 1,600x900. More graphically intensive games, such as the latest first-person shooters, might require you to reduce some settings in order to get playable frame rates, but most games should be playable.
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