It may sound absurd but Dell is one of the coolest computer manufacturers on the planet. Sure, it produces a load of boring old drivel but it also churns out exciting products, specifically those in its XPS range.
Traditionally, anything outside that range has lacked sex appeal, so when Dell said it was sprucing up its Inspiron brand, we paid attention. The first of the new breed is the Inspiron 1520 -- the Intel-powered alternative to the AMD-fitted 1521.
Prices start at just £599 but what really sets this apart from the old models is the liberal splashing of colour. Eight different hues are available, including this pink model.
The Inspiron 1520 isn't a bad looking laptop, particularly when closed. The lid on our review sample is finished in what Dell refers to as 'bubblegum pink' -- and it's quite an adept description. Chew up some strawberry Hubba Bubba, gob it out and you'll get a fairly close match.
The colour won't be to everyone's taste but there are several others to choose from. It's available in jet black, alpine white, espresso, midnight blue, ruby red, spring green and sunshine yellow. Our favourite by far is the ruby red edition, which is also found on the highly attractive XPS M1330.
Whichever colour you choose, there's no escaping the fact that the 1520 is fat -- and not with a 'ph'. It measures 360mm by 40mm by 260mm and weighs 2.9kg. Compared to the similarly specced Sony Vaio FZ series (356mm by 25mm by 254mm and 2.7kg) the 1520 is fat mutton dressed as lamb.
Open the lid and it's a case of mutton dressed as a derivative-looking laptop. The entire thing is silver -- the bezel, the wrist rest, the keyboard, the mouse trackpad, the lot. It's about as unimaginative as they come.
The Inspiron 1520 comes in a variety of configurations. The £599 base model uses a fairly pedestrian 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 1GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M graphics. It's not particularly fast but it's decent value for money and ideal for students or anyone wanting a cheap second PC.
The version we tested uses Dell's recommended configuration and costs £1,021. It's based on a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo T7100 CPU and 2GB of RAM, which is about average for a 15.4-inch laptop. It's not cheap but it's certainly not extortionate either.
Storage is par for the course, too. Ours shipped with a 160GB (5,400RPM) drive, though a faster 200GB (7,200RPM) version is also available. This is the largest and fastest drive Dell offers until 250GB -- and even 300GB -- drives start mass production. An 8x DVD rewriter comes as standard but you can replace that with a Blu-ray drive if you've got an extra £390 to spend.