Dell Inspiron 11z review

A poor touchpad and below-par build quality undermine a budget laptop with plenty of potential

Mike Jennings
23 Nov 2009
3
Price when reviewed 
484

Page 1 of 2 Dell Inspiron 11z review

Intel's Atom processor has grabbed all the headlines over the past 18 months, but the firm's range of CULV processors has quietly made waves too: many budget ultraportables now sport these low-power chips.

Dell's Inspiron 11z is the latest to pack one, and it's easy to see why they're so attractive. With a result of 0.68 in our benchmarks, processors such as the dual-core 1.3GHz Pentium SU4100 featured here boast not only a 50% performance advantage over the most powerful Atom CPUs, but in combination with a high-capacity battery they can also challenge netbooks on battery life.

The six-cell battery installed in our review system is the key here. It boasts a capacity of 4,800mAh, and in our real-world tests it helped the Dell Inspiron 11z last an impressive length of time away from the mains.

It carried on going for a massive eight hours under light use and achieved nearly three-and-a-half hours in our more demanding heavy-use tests. It's a result that's right up there with the best laptops we've seen, and certainly puts the Inspiron on a par with netbooks.

Dell Inspiron 11z

While the A-Listed netbook, Samsung's N110, kept going for even longer - 11 hours - it has a smaller screen to keep lit.

The N110 also has a lesser specification. Breaking free of the netbook tag means Dell can shake off the other restrictions, and it takes advantage by including 2GB of RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium and a 320GB hard disk with this configuration: use the E-Value code "Reviews-NRM1101" to take advantage (note this may not be live until next week); using Dell's configurator the price is closer to £420 exc VAT.

The only obvious omission, as we'd expect in an ultraportable at this price, is an optical drive. You can buy an external Dell DVD writer for £60 exc VAT, but that's no match for the integrated writer included with ViewSonic's ViewBook Pro.

We're pleased to see 802.11n wireless, but gamers won't be too impressed by the choice of Intel's GMA 4500MHD graphics chipset. This rules out all but the most basic of games.

The Inspiron's chassis also disappoints. The glossy lid and grey wristrest look fine, but poor build quality abounds: the base creaks and twists when handled, and applying light pressure to the rear of the flexible screen results in noticeable ripples on the Windows desktop.

Page 1 of 2 Dell Inspiron 11z review

Warranty

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions292 x 216 x 47mm (WDH)
Weight1.500kg
Travelling weight1.9kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Pentium Dual-Core SU4100
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total1

Screen and video

Screen size11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500MHD
Graphics card RAM32MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity320GB
Hard disk usable capacity297GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity4,800mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationBottom
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use8hr 3min
Battery life, heavy use3hr 27min
Overall application benchmark score0.68
Office application benchmark score0.72
2D graphics application benchmark score0.75
Encoding application benchmark score0.60
Multitasking application benchmark score0.64

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery disc

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