Design and features
Dell's Inspiron 13z has a pleasing, compact form that tapers slightly towards the front, making it easy to lift and carry. While the subtly rounded bottom and sides are made of a fairly robust matte plastic, our review unit came with a glossy black top that was prone to picking up fingerprints.
This laptop features a 13-inch, glossy, 1366x768 display and the requisite webcam at the centre top of the screen bezel. There are no shortcut buttons or media keys, just a straight keyboard and grey slab of plastic covering the touch pad-portion of the laptop, which seems to be a staple for these cheaper laptops.
Of more concern was the build quality of the lid and hinges — the flimsy hinge mechanism causes the screen to wobble with the slightest touch. Thankfully, the rest of the laptop is well built and reasonably stylish, a rare thing for a budget laptop.
Three USB ports, a seven-in-one card reader, VGA out, HDMI out and a 3.5mm headphone jack are supplied around the outside, as well as an Ethernet port that Dell's website describes as being 100Mb only — although our sample arrived with a gigabit controller.
The air vent is located on the left-hand side of the laptop, which may be vexing for some external mouse users, and the speakers are typically poor as we've come to expect from laptops — as always, we'd recommend a good pair of speakers or headphones.
For the price, the unit packs a modest Intel Core 2 Duo U7300 at 1.3GHz, 4GB RAM and a 320GB HDD, all running on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. While it features Bluetooth, wireless is hobbled at b/g unless you pay an extra AU$29.70 for the n module.
Intel integrated graphics are the order of the day, leading to an unimpressive 3DMark06 score of 904 — you'll need to upgrade to the optional GeForce G105M for AU$119.90 for a better result. PCMark05 was a bit more friendly with a score of 3269, indicating the laptop is fine for office work, web browsing and basic content creation.
Our review unit shipped with a four-cell battery, and consequently a sub-par lifespan. Running an XviD movie on loop with maximum screen brightness, volume and no power-saving features, the battery ran out after two hours and 15 minutes — we'd definitely recommend the eight-cell battery upgrade for an extra AU$100.10.
While we'd highly recommend the battery upgrade, the Inspiron 13z offers exceptional value, and can be found at the base price of AU$899 — which is starting to stomp on netbook territory. If you're trying to save your cash, you'll get some decent bang for buck here.
|Memory Speed||1600 MHz|
|Installed Size||8 GB|
|Spindle Speed||5400 rpm|
|CPU Type||Core i5 3rd Generation|
|Hard Drive Capacity||500 GB|
|Operating System / Software|
|OS Provided: Type||Windows 8, 64-bit, English|
|Graphics Processor||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Greenpeace policy rating (Nov 2011)||5.1|