In the two year that we have been seeing them, Ultrabooks have been pretty much all over the place. They have been ultra-thin, they have been slim, they have bulky and they have been light. But companies have really struggled to nail the Ultrabook brief. They all made portable devices, but when all of them had ultrabooks at different sizes and prices, it only became harder for consumers to pick a standard. The confusion over the size, weight and price prevails, but if you wanted to set a template for Ultrabooks, then the new Inspiron 7000 series from Dell can fit the slot perfectly. Here is my experience with the Dell Inspiron 14 Ultrabook.
If I could, I would have just written about the design of this device and left it at that. It is that kind of device. It is that kind of design. It reminds me of the MacBook and Dell’s XPS devices. It also reminds me of a Teppanyaki board. It is that solid that you can bang a cleaver on it and evoke no response.
The full aluminum body flows seamlessly all though, with the edges getting a diamond-cut edge that adds to the overdose of chrome.
The screen side is not as thin as we have seen in Dell XPS Ultrabooks, but has the same sharp feel about it. The keyboard side is thicker, but slimmer that most of its rivals. At 15.3 mm, it is no the thinnest device ever, but it is definitely as thin as it needs to be become a top-notch Ultrabook. It is also not the lightest, at a shade under 2 kg. But you would feel the extra weight anywhere.
While the design is all stunning, I was not all that sure about its practicality. For instance, the keyboard does not use the full 14-inches available to it and is about the size you would find on an 11-inch device. So you would need some getting used to if you are upgrading from another 14 or 15-inch notebook. Plus, I am not sure the metal finished is required here too. The keys, however, are very responsive and are backlit.
There are some new dedicated Windows 8 keys to open settings, search and share, which is great. The trackpad is smooth and good when you are using the Windows 8 gestures.
The other drawback is that fact that at this price there is no Full HD screen on this Inspiron. Not very inspiring when it is being touted as a top-end device. That is not taking away from the fact that the 1366x768p display is more than decent and has a very responsive touchscreen. There are two USB and one HDMI port as well as a card reader. There are small slit-like grilles for the speakers, just don't try and push your SD cards into it.
With a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, the processing capabilities of this Ultrabook is a no brainer. We tried multi-tasking use the best part of Windows 8 and faced no issues. Even high-resolution images and video opened with ease. What I looked most was the fact that this is a real cool device, that stays cool even when really stressful tasks are being processed inside. There is a Core i7 version too if you have even tougher tasks in mind for your computer.
I was expecting a bit more out of the prismatic Lithium ion battery, but was disappointed to notice that the maximum you could squeeze out of this one was five hours. That too thanks to a host of power savings settings available in the device. Still five hours mean you will be working on a slightly dull screen throughout. The good thing here is that the power adapter is real small and won’t be much of a pain carrying around.
The sound quality s really good considering that it is hard to even locate the speakers. That seem to be the result of the Waves Maxx Audio Pro software processing.
Should you buy it
If you need a high-end Ultrabook that is both portable and powerful, then the Inspiron 14 is a great option. The style quotient is something that comes as an add-on. However, remember that this one doesn’t come all that cheap and will cost you at least Rs 71,990 on the street. The Dell online store has a price tag that is a tad cheaper.
What’s inside: The Windwows 8 Ultrabook we tested had a Core i5-4200 (2.5 GHz) with 6GB RAM. The 14-inch HD display is backlit touch LED with Truelife. The internal storage is capped at 500GB. There are two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and an SD card reader. The device has a maximum thickness of 15.3mm and weighs 1.99 kg.
Price: Rs 71,990