A great budget laptop, with a relatively high-resolution screen. It's an ideal alternative to a netbook if you want something larger.
We’ve seen the Inspiron 1545 before, when it had an older processor; otherwise, the specifications are virtually identical.
The two laptops have very different power consumption levels, however. The newer model is much more efficient, lasting for three hours and 48 minutes in our tests, as opposed to the previous battery life of under two hours.
The new 1545 scored 53 overall in our benchmarks. This isn’t bad for a budget laptop, and is around three times quicker than the average netbook. We liked the simple design, with its glossy black case and rounded edges. Build quality isn’t as good as we’d expect, with a worrying amount of flex in the lid and a slight bounce in the keyboard when typing.
Keys are large and well laid out, with a moulded shape that helps orient your fingertips on each one, and enough feedback to make for accurate touch-typing. Our only niggle is the way Dell has swapped the top row of function keys with hardware shortcuts, such as wireless and volume control, and media playback controls; however, this can be changed in the Windows-style BIOS. The touchpad is a subtle indentation on the case’s surface. It’s smooth and responsive, and the buttons are large, with a light action and plenty of travel.
The screen is a little dark, but colours are accurate and the backlight is nice and even. The 1,366×768 resolution is the same as many HD TVs, making the Inspiron ideal for watching television programmes. It also reduces the size of black bars in movies. Apart from an ExpressCard/34 slot and a memory card reader, the 1545 is on par with most netbooks when it comes to expansion ports: three USB ports, network and VGA ports, and audio ports.
It may lack frills such as a webcam, but Dell’s 1545 is great value at £350. This is a special offer, but Dell always has a base model at this price, changing the processor, RAM and hard disk capacity from time to time. Due to the ever-changing specifications, we can’t give the 1545 an award, but if you find it with these – or better – specifications, it’s a superb buy, and a better choice than PC Nextday’s Versa.
|Intel Core 2 Duo T4200
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|IDT HD Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|Intel GMA 4500M HD
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|SD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
|minijack audio output, minijack microphone input
|Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
|Operating system restore option
|Roxio Creator DE 10.2, Microsoft Works 9, Cyberlink PowerDVD DX 8.1
|one year collect and return