Tag: Dell Inspiron 13z

Will more Windows-based laptops appear on the “Cool Wall”?


Windows PCs take New York | The Microsoft Blog

My comments

Last year, when Windows 7 and Apple MacOS X “Snow Leopard” came out, a lot more Windows-based laptops and “all-in-one” computers appeared that excelled on their aesthetics as well as their functionality. This has been reinforced with a few of the computers that have come my way for review on this site.

The Envy laptop (product review) has a laser-etched “filligree” pattern on the back of the computer’s lid and on the palm rest whereas the ProBook 4520s (product review) has a “brushed” florentine-bronze finish on those same places. Dell had used a “piano-black” gloss finish on the lid of two of the computers – the Studio 15 (product review) and the Inspiron 13z (product review) while their Mini 10 netbook (product review) had that “gloss-white” finish that was common with previous generations of Apple iPods and Macintosh products for the back of the computer.

If you, like me, are a regular viewer of “Top Gear” which is a very funny BBC TV car show which is pitched at the petrolheads and car enthusiasts amongst us , you may have seen the “Cool Wall” segment on this show (WikiPedia article). Here, there is a very large board that is divided up in to four segments – “Seriously Uncool”, “Uncool”, “Cool” and “Sub Zero”. Here, the Top Gear Boys (Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May) place photos of various cars on this wall according to how cool they think these cars are. Some of us may have noticed a so-called “Super-Cool Fridge” which was a box shaped like a fridge where pictures of cars deemed to be “Super-Cool” went. The Top Gear Boys tended to vary the definition of “coolness” based on the car’s powertrain, body style or other factors, even on whether certain celebrities and high-profile individuals were driving it or not.

If you thought of a “Cool Wall” existing for laptop computers, it may have looked like this with all of the recent-issue Apple MacBook laptops being considered either “Sub-Zero” or in the “Super-Cool” fridge and all of the Windows-based laptops appearing on the “Uncool” side. This is because of the grey finish with that Apple logo glowing on the back of the computer. What is now happening is that the machines from HP, Dell, Acer, ASUS and Sony are now in a position to fill in most of the “Cool Wall”.

This latest crop of laptops that have been shown in the preview show detailed in the Windows PCs take New York article is now showing that more of these manufacturers are showing up with machines that can look as good as the Apple units. Similarly, there have been people who have used Windows-7-based computers to do creative work including music production and this has led to MacOS X “Snow Leopard” and Windows 7 ending up on an even footing as far as desktop computing is concerned.

Some Apple pundits may think that Apple moving away from the Motorola PowerPC processor platform to the Intel processor platform as well as integration of Microsoft technologies into MacOS X may have denied the Apple Macintosh platform its perceived  exclusivity and superiority over other platforms. This is even though Apple had licensed intellectual property from Microsoft ever since they used the Microsoft BASIC code for the Applesoft BASIC interpreter in the Apple II lineup of computers.

At least there is more activity underway with yielding a functionally and aesthetically level desktop-computing field between the two main players.

Product Review – Dell Inspiron 13z notebook computer

I am reviewing the Dell Inspiron 13z notebook computer which would be best classed as a “subnotebook”or ultraportable. This would be a step up from the netbook form factor and would suit users who value portability and mainstream specifications.Dell Inspiron 12z


The Inspiron 13z is finished in a similar manner to its current stablemate, the Dell Studio 15 and has that same glossy black lid. But the inside is based on a two-tone styling for the keyboard area with a silver palm-rest area.

This unit is based on an Intel Core Duo U7300 processor and the review sample came with 4Gb RAM and 320Gb hard disk. Unlike the Studio 15, this one had the hard disk partitioned out with a system space of 58.5Gb, a recovery space of 9.76 Gb and the rest as space for the user’s files. There is wireless functionality that can work with Bluetooth peripherals or 802.11g Wi-Fi networks. The model will be available at the Dell store with 500Gb for the hard disk rather than the 320Gb hard disk that is in the review sample.

There is a tray-load DVD burner and an SD card reader for integrated removeable storage. There are 3 USB ports, an audio jack and the ability to connect an external display through either a VGA port or an HDMI audio-video port. It also has, last but not least, an Ethernet port for connection to Ethernet networks or HomePlug powerline networks.

Tests and observations

The keyboard has worked well for accuracy especially when you touch-type, although it may appear cramped. The trackpad is very similar to the one that is part of the Dell Studio 15, where the sensitive area is integrated in to the palm rest as a recess and the two buttons being the only thing different from that area. Like all the recent laptops that I reviewed, this unit still requires you to press Fn and the function key to gain access to the function keys.

The screen does well on readability and you can get away with typing for a long time without being uncomfortable. It also work properly with the colour, especially when working with still photographs.

I have done the “DVD run-down”test on the battery which I have done with the other laptops I have reviewed here. This was done with the unit in the default “Dell”power configuration to avoid any power-saving functions cutting in. It was able to play a movie for 1 hour 37 minutes with the wireless function enabled and 10 minutes longer without wireless enabled. It can also run for a significant part of the day on basic tasks without running out of power.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

There will always be the problem with limited battery life especially if you work the computer very hard with multimedia, especially games or DVD playback. As well, the wireless-network interface could be able to work with an 802.11n network, but you may have to pay extra for this function. Other than that, there is nothing much to complain about the laptop.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend this computer for those of us who want a compact laptop computer for travelling with and are likely to make good use of it on our travels. Journalists and similar users would appreciate it being the “right size” for use when taking notes or preparing copy while “in the field”. The generous hard disk and the integrated SD card reader can also be a boon when it is used as a staging post for digital images or as a jukebox for music while you travel.

But I wouldn’t recommend it as a computer for students to use because there isn’t anything to protect it against excessive damage like a hard-disk shock sensor.