Dell has been on something of a roll recently. Its new range of XPS notebooks, the M1330 and M1530 were both great machines, while its desktop offerings, like the XPS 420, haven't been half bad either. But let it not be said that Dell has had things all its own way, because there have been a few turkeys lodged in there too - the XPS M1730 springs to mind.
Another underwhelming effort was the previous Inspiron laptop, the Inspiron 1520. Though it introduced some new elements, such as a range of colourful finishes, it was bulky and uninspiring in a time when notebooks were becoming slimmer and easier to handle. Indeed, the new XPS notebooks were very much the response to such criticisms and Dell seems to have taken the lessons learnt there and applied them to its replacement, the Inspiron 1525.
An entry level 15.4in notebook, the 1525 shares a very similar wedge shaped base to that of the XPS M1530. This is definitely not a bad thing. Dell quotes a starting weight of 2.7kg with a four-cell battery, but we found it weighed exactly that with a standard six-cell battery. This is a very decent weight for a notebook of this size, while the quoted thickness of 25mm to 37mm, front to back, means it feels slim and elegant.
There's also an even larger array of lid finishes to choose from. Standard options are for either a matte black or glossy white finish, while you can also choose from pink, brown, red, green or yellow Microsatin finishes or a new selection of designs called Commotion, Street, Chill and Blossom. Our sample has the Street design (above, on the left); probably the worst of the lot though a couple of them look pretty decent.
Overall, initial impressions of the Inspiron 1525 are almost entirely positive. Its new slimmer and lighter frame is a massive step forward, while the selection of lid designs is exhaustive. Inside things look good too; with nice textured sliver plastic and handy touch-sensitive media controls ripped more or less directly from the XPS range. Dell has also borrowed a trick from HP by sinking the touch pad into the chassis, and the keyboard is truly excellent, with light, crisp and responsive keys that make typing a breeze.
Again, the keyboard is identical to that found on the XPS range, but not everything is the same. You don't get a slot-loading optical drive and the battery packs lack the useful little battery meter that the premium line has. But, though the 1525 is noticeably cheaper, it doesn't look or feel like a cheap laptop, so you needn't feel embarrassed to own one - quite the contrary, in fact.