Pros: Solid design and build, Touch screen along with pre-installed Windows 8, good performance thanks to 4th Generation processor, Exceptional battery life.
Cons: The reflective screen is not great for outdoor performance, port placements could have been better, No dedicated graphics card.
The Dell Inspiron series has been around here for sometime. It is one of the widely used and loved series of Dell laptops. Dell’s mantra has been simple; produce mid-level computers that suit the budget of the average consumer. They have indeed seen great success in this line.
But Dell has refreshed the Inspiron line up as of late and the latest edition of the series comes with Intel’s 4th generation processors dubbed as Haswell; successors to Intel’s Ivy Bridge range. We have got our hands on the Dell Inspiron 5537 model which combines the power of Dell and Intel with a touch-enabled screen that is made for Microsoft’s Windows 8.
So how does the Inspiron 15R 5537 deliver? Has Dell done a grave mistake by omitting dedicated graphics? Does it lives up to the Haswell hype and eliminate the need of a dedicated graphics card? Are the 4th generation processors better power-managers? Let’s have a look!
Our review device (Inspiron 15R 5537) comes with the Intel Core i5-4200U Processor, from the latest 4th Generation Haswell series. Intel also has models like Core i3-4010U and Core i7-4500U in the market. At first glance we’re surprised that there’s no dedicated Graphics unit. But processor also has integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400. In Intel’s own words, “Intel’s HD graphics together with Intel Core processor brings you a vibrant visual experience without the cost of a separate graphics card”
The Inspiron 5537 has a Seagate 750GB hard drive (5400 RPM, 690+ GB usable) along with 6GB of DDR3 memory (5.7+ GB usable, can be upgraded upto 16GB). The laptop has a 15.6” HD multi touch-enabled display that gives a pleasurable experience in using the pre-installed 64-bit edition of Windows 8.
The Inspiron 5537 is not distinctively different from it’s predecessor models when it comes to looks. But Dell has done a great job in making it thinner and lighter than the previous models. Also the use of Aluminium blended plastic materials for the chassis gives a much deserved premium look to the latest Inspiron. This is notable because the previous Inspirons had that cheap-plastic look for a great extend. The shiny Dell logo on the back of the lid adds some class. The lid, the wrist rest and the keyboard tray have this great looking “brushed-metal” pattern on them which really gives better looks.
Overall look of the exterior is metallic and rigid. You will probably need to use both your hands to open the lid thanks to the tight hinges that connect. So be extra cautious when you are on the move in a vehicle and need to open the laptop with one hand, while having a soft drink or your mobile phone on the other hand.
The Inspiron 5537 is not noticeably thin or light. But it definitely is thinner and lighter than the previous models in the series.
The 15.6” display (1366 x 768 pixels) is a pleasure to use. No, it is not an extraordinary display. It is rather average when it comes to pixel density. But it is a touch enabled display that goes hand in hand with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system experience. Well, it is natural to doubt how a touch screen display would come handy on a full size laptop of this kind, that has a built-in full keyboard. But the response times are really swift that you will fall in love with the display immediately. To add to that, apps like “Fresh paint” take the touch screen experience to a different level.
Disappointing part of the display? The glossy touchscreen is very reflective. Reflective to the level that you may not see what’s on the screen (or whether the screen is ON) while using it outdoors. This part was one of the most annoying things I encountered while using the device.
I, sometimes, end up tilting the screen to reduce the reflections. Another let down is that the display is prone to fingerprints. But keep in mind, this is intended for a mid range market and isn’t intended for gamers and professional graphic designers. (I’m neither one of them and I’ve always seen most designers using Apple computers over any other brand. ). So, the display is not entirely bad either.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Inspiron 15R 5537 comes with a full island-style keyboard with the number pad on the right. That’s not surprising for a 15.6” model. The flat-top keys are perfectly sized. The larger right-shift key is a welcome addition. But that also makes the already small arrow keys look even smaller. They typing experience is great including the accuracy level. I have no complaints there except few warnings: The keyboard is not back-lit. Well, after all back-lit keyboards are individual preferences. Also, it’s advisable to watch out for dust accumulating in between the keys. (Although it was not a problem during the few days I used the unit)
I love the touch-pad on this device. It is one of the best I have seen in recent times on a device of this category. (I’m looking at you HP) The matte surface means no stickiness in sight and the multi-touch gestures work just fine.
The dedicated mouse buttons have the brushed metal look inline with the wrist pad areas. Dell also provides a built in application to control everything from the sensitivity to the gestures on the touch-pad. Sometimes you can’t hate the bloatwares.
The Inspiron 15R has 4 USB ports. But only two of them are USB 3.0 compatible. That may not be an issue with the average user but it’s high time laptop manufacturers focus on high speed options only.
Also Dell has done a disappointing job by placing 3 of the 4 USB ports on one (left) side. You ask me why? Well, that brings up a situation where only two of the ports can be used simultaneously (if you use a regular Kingston pen-drive and regular HSPA modems or dongles as they are widely known). I would have loved them to place two ports each on either sides leaving considerable amount of space in between adjoining ports to make lives easy. One USB 2.0
port sits alone on the right side along with the DVD burner and the Kensington Security Slot (a.k.a Kensington lock).
Another confusing addition (at least for me) is the outdated Ethernet port on the left along with USB ports. On the good side, Dell has managed to add an HDMI port on the left side. Overall the connectivity options are adequate except I would have loved better placement.
The single audio jack, power socket and the air vent are the rest that make up the (already crowded) left side.
You’re bound to miss the card reader which has been placed on the front side just below the mouse button area. But, assuming the card readers are used less frequently, there’s nothing to complain about the placement.
The WiFi card used here is the “Dell Wireless 1705” (from Atheros to be specific). Along with 2.4 GHz networks and the 802.11 b/g/n transmission support, it also provides support to Bluetooth 4.0.
Another hardware feature you may fail to notice is the stereo speakers in the front (or rather bottom). Even though I had my initial doubts about the speaker placement and how it will affect the sound quality, I was indeed impressed by the output. The advertised “Waves maxxAudio” (Dell Audio) application provides options to control the audio output along with equalizer options. This helps to make maximum use out of the audio components. The integrated webcam on the front panel makes the system complete.
What makes the Haswell processors unique? When Intel introduced the processors, they claimed that the ultra low-voltage Haswell processors will be 20 times more power efficient at idle than the existing ones. They also claimed it to be the greatest battery life increase in the Intel history.
Now the question. Does it live up to the hype? It does, without any doubt. Seriously, the best part of using the Inspiron 15R 5537 was the battery life. I could use it moderately for a full day (till 11pm) and it will still have 10% battery life which is exceptional. A heavy user can easily get up to 8 hours of battery life without much trouble. That equals at least 3 to 4 movies back to back.
The Dell Inspiron 15R 5537 is an all rounder. It does live up to the expectations from a mid-range laptop intended for regular day to day use. Some of the features may well require some improvements but the exceptional battery life and built quality outshines the negatives.