Dell has released three new laptops today: Inspiron 13z, 14z and Vostro V131. The first two are spinoffs of Dell's XPS 15z which was released in late May and it received quite good reviews. Fundamentally, 15z is a good competitor against Apple's MacBook Pro since 15z finally adopted a thin, full metal body which is what Apple has been shipping for years. This is what Dell is trying with 13z and 14z as well, although they will not be available in aluminum colour, but in black and red (the body is still aluminum though). The Vostro is Dell's low-cost business laptop and it's a good budget alternative if you don't like Inspirons. Lets list the specs right away:

  Inspiron 14z Vostro V131
  Standard Built to order Standard
Screen size 14.0" N/A 13.3"
Resolution 1366x768 N/A 1366x768 (matte)
Processor Intel Core i3-2330M (2.2GHz) Intel Core i5-2410M (2.3GHz) Intel Celeron 847 (1.1GHz)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 N/A Intel HD 2000
Memory 4GB (1x4GB) DDR3 6GB (4GB+2GB) 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 2GB (1x2GB) 1333MHz DDR3
Storage 500GB 5400rpm 640GB 5400rpm, 750GB 7200rpm 320GB 7200rpm
Optical drive DVD+/RW N/A Optional external DVD+/RW
Ports 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0/eSATA, Mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, headphone/mic, SD card slot N/A 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0/eSATA, Ethernet, headphone/mic, card reader
Dimensions(WxDxH) 13.6" x 9.7" x 0.92-1.0" N/A 12.96" x 9.36" x 0.63-0.83"
Weight 5.0lb Varies 3.6lb
Price $599 Varies $499

Inspiron 13z and 14z

Inspiron 14z will be available immediately but unfortunately, the 13z is only available in some Asian countries so we weren't able to get any detailed specs and the US release is still pending. However, we do know that the screen is 13.3" and has the same, 1366x768 resolution. We also expect the other specs to be very similar, the biggest difference being dimensions and weight.  

14z seems to be a good all arounder in terms of specs and the price isn't too bad either but there is one part that could have been done better: the screen resolution. 1366x768 is okay for a budget laptop, which is what 14z is, but 1600x900 shouldn't be too much to ask as a BTO, there are people willing to pay for extra pixels. Currently there aren't many sub-$1000 ~14" laptops with 1600x900 and those are usually very close to the $1000 mark, so a $100 BTO for 1600x900 would have been a very good move from Dell. 

Inspiron 14R is probably the closest to 14z when looking at Dell's other offerings. Basically, 14z is just a slimmed down version of 14R as the other specs are very similar. 14z also has a bit faster CPU and more RAM but that is pretty much it 14R does have a price advantage of $100 though. When compared to 13" MacBook Pro, Dell has a huge price advantage. Apple gives you a faster CPU, smaller form factor and less weight but to be honest, it can be very hard to justify the extra $600 for such small differences. 

 

Vostro V131

Since Vostro is meant for business, the specs are relatively weak but business users are rarely looking for powerful laptops. Thus the use of ULV Celeron can be justified along with only 2GB of RAM. Vostro V131 is actually very thin and light for its price: only 0.7lb heavier than 13" MacBook Air and 0.15" thicker at the thickest point. That is pretty good when considering that Vostro starts at $499 whereas MBA starts at $1299. Of course, there are other differences such as the CPU and storage but V131 might be a good option for people who want an affordable, yet very portable computer. 

Final Words

Dell is clearly into making things thinner and lighter at the moment, which is actually what the whole industry is trying to do. Intel's Ultrabook concept has just thrown fuel for the fire and we should see the first Ultrabooks in a few months. While Ultrabooks won't compete in the budget market, they are definitely a nice addition and evidently, all laptops seem to aim at being thinner. 

Dell's newest offerings are a proof of this. They are thinner than their predecessors while still keeping similar price range and specs. We will most likely see other manufacturers following Dell in case they haven't already slimmed down their laptops already. 

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  • damianrobertjones - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Funny how Apple now see the need to sue anything that moves.

    Again, you're spending FAR too much time defending a company that will take from you each and every single step of the way.

    ...How about cables changing from ipod version to ipod version.
    Reply
  • webdev51 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yes, I got my MBP repaired *twice* for free -- but not without unnecessary effort.

    Wizzdo, you're not reading what I wrote. They tried to charge me $300 for a free fix. Since they already had my computer, I called them back and they said "Oh, yeah, we'll fix it for free." They did that on purpose; they know what they're doing. They're preying on unsuspecting consumers. Fortunately, I know better. Others don't unfortunately.

    There were too many problems with my experience with Apple and Mac OS X (software selection, software quality) to list here. For one, they had my computer for a month during the repair. I had to borrow a netbook from a relative.

    It's been so much better to build my own machine and to support it myself than to deal with all of the problems I ran into with Apple. Plus with the money I saved building my own desktop, I could buy a laptop for the few times I needed to be portable.

    Fortunately I am able to build and support my own machine. I feel for those who are not able to do that and must deal with Apple. Even people with similar problems to mine are still buying Macs, I guess because, understandably, they feel they don't have any choice:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?s=d1fa1...
    Reply
  • webdev51 - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Yes, I got my MBP repaired *twice* for free -- but not without unnecessary effort. They tried to charge me $300 for a free fix. Since they already had my computer, I called them back and they said "Oh, yeah, we'll fix it for free." They did that on purpose; they know what they're doing. They're preying on unsuspecting consumers. Fortunately, I know better. Others don't unfortunately.

    There were too many problems with my experience with Apple and Mac OS X (software selection, software quality) to list here. For one, they had my computer for a month during the repair. I had to borrow a netbook from a relative.

    It's been so much better to build my own machine and to support it myself than to deal with all of the problems I ran into with Apple. Plus with the money I saved building my own desktop, I could buy a laptop for the few times I needed to be portable.

    Fortunately I am able to build and support my own machine. I feel for those who are not able to do that and must deal with Apple. Even people with similar problems to mine are still buying Macs, I guess because, understandably, they feel they don't have any choice.
    Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, August 15, 2011 - link

    Windows Live essentials. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Where are the reviews? If this were a mac.... etc rant usual fanboy talk.

    P.s. I've ordered the Vostro 131 with the celeron and will post my findings on the Notebook review forum once done.
    Reply

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