capsule review

Dell Inspiron E1505

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Dell Inspiron E1505 Notebook

    PCWorld Rating

    With "instant office apps" capability and fast performance, the E1505 is a good all-around notebook for getting work done.

Dell's revamped Inspiron E1505, an entertainment notebook, now includes an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Though still a poor choice for gaming, the E1505 is plenty zippy for any other applications, including music and photo editing, and movie viewing. The 6.9-pound E1505 also throws in pretty good speakers, dedicated media buttons, and a cushy keyboard with stylish white trim, giving you a great all-around choice for consumers who don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a desktop replacement.

Generously equipped for the price, our $1186 (as of 11/6/06) E1505 came with the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, a double-layer DVD burner, four USB ports, a FireWire port, an ExpressCard slot, and a three-in-one memory card reader. The laptop's 15.4-inch WXGA screen is great for mainstream work, but if you need to see more on your screen at once, a WSXGA+ resolution is an option.

Our review unit had a 120GB hard drive. You can get a 160GB hard drive, still a relatively rare notebook option, for less than $60 more. Unfortunately, a built-in TV tuner is not an option, as it is on most other entertainment notebooks, but Dell's USB TV tuner is just $104 extra. The small external box comes with all the cables you'll need to connect to a cable box or a set-top box.

Equipped with a 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 processor and 1GB of RAM, our machine earned a WorldBench 5 score of 102, which ranks within the top 20 percent of notebooks we've tested. The first E1505 we reviewed--equipped with a 1.66-GHz Core Duo T2300 processor and 1GB of RAM--did not play games smoothly and ran noticeably slower than other notebooks when we worked in multiple windows. With the faster chip, the notebook is now a much better multitasker, on a par with competitors, but game play is still poor: The laptop managed just 19 frames per second when displaying Doom and 36 fps in Far Cry. The 64MB of dedicated video memory allowed by a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X130 HyperMemory card just isn't enough to get most games off the ground. (We didn't test with the optional 256MB video card.)

The E1505 turned in excellent battery life, lasting 5.5 hours on one charge. The battery, which is located on the bottom of the notebook, sports an external gauge that lets you see how much juice is left before you have to plug the notebook in.

Like Dell's high-end XPS entertainment portables and budget-friendly Inspiron counterparts, the E1505 has a unique "instant office" capability. The feature makes staying on top of business as simple as pressing the MediaDirect button. The button launches a menu that now includes not only the usual entertainment options--DVD, music, videos, and photos--but also additional menu selections for the application viewers. Without launching Windows, you can view--though not edit--your PowerPoint slides and Outlook and Outlook Express calendars and contacts. You can also play DVDs, music, and digital photo collections. So if you've forgotten the starting time for a meeting, just pause the movie and check your schedule.

Expandability is somewhat limited. The E1505 is user upgradable, with both the hard drive and memory chips in accessible bottom compartments. However, docking is nothing fancy, with only a couple of options--the better one being a screen stand port replicator, a $103 extra. (You must provide the wireless keyboard and mouse.)

All in all, Dell has another winner in the souped-up E1505. Though not for gamers, the E1505 is a strong contender for your consumer dollar.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    With "instant office apps" capability and fast performance, the E1505 is a good all-around notebook for getting work done.

    Pros

    • Offers "instant office apps" capability

    Cons

    • Not ideal for gaming
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