Looks can be deceiving, as the clichéd saying goes. Take the case of Dell’s ultraportable: The Inspiron 14z looks like it would be more at home in your local electronics store’s budget bin. You’d never find it there though (at least, not in the next couple of years), since inside the Inspiron 14z are laptop parts comparable to ultras a few hundred bucks more expensive.
The hardware housed inside the Inspiron 14z include a 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 8 GB of 1,333 MHz DDR3 memory, a 5,400 rpm 500 GB hybrid hard drive with a 32 GB solid state drive, and best of all, a dedicated AMD 7570M video card. All these components will set you back by just under $900 (most other ultras with the same specs cost upwards of $1,000).
The configuration mentioned above is for the Inspiron 14z variant which is closest to the best pound-for-pound deal you can get. A base version is available for a mere $699, although it eschews the new Ivy Bridge Core i5 CPU for a last-gen Core i3. It also removes the dedicated GPU in favor of an Intel HM7 APU with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. Finally, its RAM is whittled down to just 6 GB; still more than adequate, but a higher RAM count is always better.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a fully-decked Inspiron 14z with the latest Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor. It’s around a thousand bucks though, so you can look at it in two ways: 1) That’s just a hundred dollars more for a high-end CPU upgrade; or 2) That’s too close for comfort to a regularly-priced ultra, with just a couple more hundred bucks netting you very high-end components in a better-looking chassis. Overall, though, the $1,000 Inspiron 14z isn’t a bad way to go, but the $900 one just seems to give more bang for every buck.
Diamond in the Rough
The “in” look for ultras nowadays is one with angular edges and a unibody metallic sheen that screams “future edge.” The Inspiron 14z’s curved look, however, makes it look like you’re carrying a purse, or else a laptop from the early 2000s. Who knows, though; you just might be into that kind of thing.
At least Dell got the metallic part right. The Inspiron 14z’s chassis is available in two two-tone variants: Gunmetal gray on white, and shiny red on white. However, while both variants look great, they aren’t enough to offset the retro look. If anything, the difference is much more apparent.
More Than You Bargained For, In a Good Way
That said, the aforementioned Dell laptop parts at the less-than-a-grand price tag go a long way towards sweetening the overall package. Along with the 14-inch 1,024 x 768 screen, okay control components, an HDMI video port, and a much-appreciated optical drive, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal anywhere else.
I’m Colleen Northcutt is a Writer / Web promoter, and Blogger from Reno, Nevada. She’s an avid PC gamer and worked for laptopaid.com. She’s writing about technology especially for laptops and notebooks and is a very passionate, optimistic & dedicated woman who takes up responsibilities with utmost enthusiasm.