Dell Inspiron 17R review

Full review: Powerful Windows 7 desktop replacement

Image 1 of 3 Dell Inspiron 17R colour range
Dell Inspiron 17R colour range
Image 2 of 3 Dell Inspiron 17R main
Dell Inspiron 17R main
Image 3 of 3 Dell Inspiron 17R close up
Dell Inspiron 17R close-up

Excellent performance, but poor portability from this Inspiron

Mobility be dammed. Weighing over 3Kg, the Dell Inspiron 17R is a back breaker. Double that with the low battery life and it’s clear this laptop is not for seekers of portability. Fortunately for Dell - and us - its desktop replacement credentials are brilliant.

The Inspiron 17R we had comes with a “peacock” blue case but you can choose tomato red or mars black. The peacock blue isn’t as garish as it sounds and actually has a nice chrome finish that looks good against the gun-metal insides – it just doesn’t look like it’s trying to imitate anything else.

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The keyboard does have a numeric pad on the right and a nice responsive bounce. In theory it should be a good board but it’s way too small, making it hard to use for longer typing sessions. The thing is, Dell has enough real estate to play with so it could’ve been much bigger. As it is, each key sits resolutely flat up against each other so it’s only viable for dexterous ninjas.

Dell Inspiron 17R: Connectivity

Connectivity is ok. Our unit had a nicely tucked away 7-1 card reader and an HDMI out. There are three USB ports and Dell includes an integrated multi-format DVD drive. Blu-ray would be nice, but at this price point it's not really a surprise it's not here. In the US Dell has added Intel’s Wireless Display technology. This allows you to wirelessly stream from your laptop to any plasma or LCD TV. Fingers crossed Dell will bring that to the UK soon.

Dell Inspiron 17R: Performance

Where the Inspiron R really excels is overall performance and multimedia playback. This model has 4GB of memory combined with an Intel i5-430M processor running at 2.26GHz. Dell has added the 64-bit version of Windows Home Premium and a 500GB hard drive. This is enough power to cope with any scenario and multi-task intensive apps like movie playback with ease. It can even handle a late night gaming session from the 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5470.

The 1600x900 17.3-inch screen is sharp, but we found it too glossy in bright environments. That said, it’s perfect for movies or gaming. Points also go for brilliant audio fidelity. The speakers have a great range and while we still don’t buy the virtual surround sound from the SRS Premium audio, it does provide great music playback.

Dell Inspiron 17R: Battery performance

We couldn’t reach Dell’s claimed five hour battery life on the six-cell battery. We primed this Inspiron R for power saving mode and max performance. Max performance was terrible, with only 95 minutes from a six-cell battery. In power saving mode the Inspiron R fares much better with 241 minutes of use.

The review unit we had was specced for maximum performance so the price it high. That said, with prices starting at £480 Dell always offers a good range of configs so it can be specced to fit your budget or needs.

If Dell was touting the Inspiron R as a mobile dream, battery life would be a bigger issue. But with terrific performance from the impressive specs, it’s a great desktop replacement.

The Dell Inspiron 17R is out now, find out more from Dell

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SPECIFICATIONS

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
Screen (size and res): 17.3inches 1600x900
Processor (inc speed): Intel i5-430M 2.26GHz.
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5470 (1GB memory)
Memory: 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD drive
Battery tested: 95 mins
Battery claimed: 300 minutes
Connections: 3x USB, eSATA, HDMI, Headphone jack, Ethernet, Monitor
Dimensions/weight: 420x280x30mm/3kg

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