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If you’ve hovered on over to Dell’s website of late you may well have come across a new marketing slogan that reads: "A Fashionista Updates Her Look: Express yourself with a sleek and sophisticated new Inspiron”. I must admit to being somewhat puzzled by this approach. Is Dell suggesting that the new Inspiron is like a ‘Fashionista’? Or that people buying an Inspiron ought to aspire to being a ‘Fashionista’? Whatever your take it’s clear that Dell is attempting to revamp its image from its trusty Labrador status, to a more hip and contemporary brand that can excite. But is this all talk and no substance, or does the new Inspiron represent a real reinvention for the brand?

One of the main changes comes on the outside, where Dell has embraced the idea of customisation by providing a variety of different colours and finishes to choose from. This is hardly a new idea in the notebook space, but Dell has certainly jumped on board with vigour with a choice of standard Matte Black or Glossy White finishes, or a 'Microsatin' finish, which is available in ‘Espresso’ Brown, ‘Midnight’ Blue, ‘Ruby’ Red, ‘Bubblegum’ Pink, ‘Spring’ Green and ‘Sunshine’ Yellow. So, as you can tell, there’s no shortage of options.

For the record our sample came with the ‘Spring’ Green Microsatin finish, which I thought was rather fetching though some of my colleagues were less convinced. On the inside our sample was powered by a Santa Rosa spec Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, which is clocked at 1.8GHz with 2MB L2 Cache and an 800MHz front side bus. As things stand this is the slowest of the T7xxx series of notebook CPUs, while others in the range have 4MB L2 Cache. That said, it’s still a very capable CPU and it features all the clever power saving features outlined in our Santa Rosa feature.

This is supported by 2GB 667MHz DRR2 RAM, an nVidia 8600M-GT 256MB, a 160GB 5400rpm SATA hard drive, a dual-layer DVD-Rewriter drive, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, 802.11a/b/g/Draft N Wi-Fi and HSDPA. As is typical, the system comes with Vista Home Premium as standard, while an embedded two megapixel camera is also included across the range.

This is a comprehensive specification, which also includes an upgraded 1,440 x 900 display and an extended 9-cell battery. However, one can't help feeling that this particular configuration is a little unbalanced. The benefit of HSDPA in a notebook that weighs in excess of 3kg and features a 15.4in display is questionable, and with this included the price is a by no means cheap - £1,100 inc. VAT and shipping. I'd sooner drop the expensive HSDPA module for a faster 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, which would really boost overall performance. It goes without saying that this configurability is one of the main attractions of buying a Dell over other brands such as Toshiba or Acer, and this is something I'll explore further later on in the piece.

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