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Dell Inspiron 1564 review

Verdict:

An attractive laptop with a fast Core i3 processor, the 1564 has a relatively small hard disk and could do with a better screen.

Review Date: 14 Mar 2010

Price when reviewed: £508

Supplier: http://www.dell.co.uk

Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

User Rating 4 stars out of 5

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Dell's new Inspiron line has the same custom-coloured lids and sleek design as its forebears, but underneath the hood you'll find one of Intel's new Core i3 chips, which includes a built-in graphics processor.

With 4GB of RAM and a 2.13GHz Core i3-330M processor, the Inspiron 1564 made light work of our benchmarks, producing an overall score of 74. It was only recently that we'd only see a score this high from a laptop costing around £700.

A fast processor is all very well, but what about the rest of the laptop? The Inspiron design remains basically the same, with a fairly minimalist case and sturdy lid hinges that allow you to push the lid back almost to a horizontal position. There aren't any flashy LED controls or indicators, which is no bad thing. Once again, Dell has swapped the Function keys default behaviour - for example the F2 key is now the "Toggle Wireless" key, and you have to press the Fn key to get F2. If this is a little confusing, you can reverse this behaviour back to 'normal' in the BIOS.

The rest of the keyboard is fairly standard. The keys have flat tops but enough spacing between them, and their action is light with fairly crisp feedback. The touchpad is large enough and very responsive, with two large buttons that have an extremely light action - so light that there is hardly any feedback when you press them.

Intel's integrated GMA HD graphics chip can handle HD movies well but it struggles with games and failed our Call of Duty 4 benchmark. Even with anti-aliasing turned off and the resolution turned down to 1,024x768, it only managed 11.5fps. You might find some older games will work, but new games are unlikely to work smoothly.

A glossy screen coating on the 15.6in, 1,366x768 widescreen display and tight vertical viewing angles make it hard to get a good picture, and we found the backlight a bit dull. A blue cast to whites makes images feel cold, and although colours are reasonably accurate, they aren't as vibrant as we've seen on some rival laptops. The internal speakers are loud but lack bass, and SRS technology helps to widen the sound stage. Luckily there's an HDMI port for digital output so you can connect to an AV amplifier or sound system.

The 1564 has most of the ports and features you might expect at this price, although we'd expect more than three USB ports on a 15in laptop and a larger hard disk than the 320GB model. There's no ExpressCard port,Bluetooth or 802.11n wireless, which means you won't get the fastest speeds. You can specify an optional Bluetooth card (£30 inc VAT) when you buy the laptop, but the wireless card isn't upgradeable.

A smart design and a powerful processor make this an attractive choice at this price point, but the Core i3 performance comes at the cost of some other components brings, especially if it means making sacrifices elsewhere. If you're on a budget but need a fast machine for image or video editing, the 1564 is a decent choice.

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