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Dell Inspiron 1545 review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

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Dell Inspiron 1545 closed
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 closed
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 front angle
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 touchpad
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 keypad
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 power
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 side
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 side angle
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 front angle
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 specs
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 benchmarks
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 benchmarks
  • Dell Inspiron 1545 benchmarks

Summary

Our Score:

6

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Decent build quality
  • Customizable

Cons

  • Glossy all over
  • No digital video out
  • Poor battery life
  • Inferior display

Key Features

  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz CPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 250GB HDD
  • 15.6in HD Ready screen
  • Manufacturer: Dell
  • Review Price: free/subscription

In these financially troubled times, the budget sector is more important than ever. Considering it's a notebook from the world's third-largest PC manufacturer, Dell's Inspiron 1545 (also known as the Inspiron 15) has a lot to live up to, especially since the last Inspiron we had through our labs, the Inspiron 1525, walked away with our coveted Recommended Award. Let's find out if the 1545 is worthy of similar praise.

As with many new budget notebooks, Dell's latest is available in a few different colours if purchased direct. Matte Black is standard, but for an extra £29.99 you can choose Microsatin Blue, Red or Pacific High-Gloss Blue lids. Not exactly much choice, especially given Dell's usually prolific customisation options, but any choice is better than none. Our particular model, available from PC World for £429.99, came with a blue 'high-gloss' lid. While not quite as bad as piano black at showing fingerprints, it will still require regular attention and there is no cloth provided for this.

Dell Inspiron 1545 closed

Opening the notebook up is even worse, since aside from the notebook's sides, keyboard and touchpad every visible inch is glossy black. While this shiny finish looks attractive, every time you type or use the touchpad your notebook will display streaks and prints. There's not even any kind of pattern à la Toshiba A350-11N or HP HDX 16 to somewhat disguise this effect. After just a day in the office, the 1545 looked like it had been sitting out for a week. Semi-matte palm rests might not have looked quite as flashy, but they would sure require a lot less maintenance.

Dell Inspiron 1545 front angle

Aside from this, the design is streamlined and minimalist. Apart from the keyboard and touchpad, the only things breaking the Inspiron's clean lines are a speaker grille and small square chromed power button above the keyboard. In the first sign of the 1545's budget nature, there's not even a webcam to spoil the screen's slick bezel. To be honest, this is a bit of a harsh omission even on a notebook available for around £400 since even the cheapest netbooks come with one. And, though Dell offers a 1.3 Megapixel model for upgrade if buying the 1545 direct, it charges a hefty £30 for the privilege.

Thankfully, build quality doesn't show any signs of such severe cost-cutting. All the plastics used feel very solid and there is no sign of extravagant flex or creak. Connectivity, though, is another area that has been seriously affected. Aside from the usual DVD-Rewriter and memory card reader, we have a 34mm ExpressCard slot rather than the more usual 54mm version. In addition there are headphone and microphone jacks, three USB ports, an Ethernet port and VGA-out. One could argue that this is no more than most people will need, but just to put it into perspective, the latter list is no better than what you'd find on a netbook and even the Inspiron 1525 managed to include an HDMI port.

McPlopp

February 20, 2009, 12:34 pm

An overly harsh review score in my opinion. I bought one of these about two weeks ago and it's a solid machine, doesn't feel like a budget laptop at all, looks stylish, has a good keyboard, wireless is superb, it has a great spec, runs like a dream and represents INSANE value for money. This is an excellent budget laptop. Battery life just isn't an issue for me at all as there are several power profiles that are capable of delivering extended usage. (The default profile on mine was 'high performance' and I changed it immediately.)

TechVegan

February 20, 2009, 2:48 pm

@McPlopp: I'm glad you're enjoying your product. The 1545's looks are stylish, but glossy wrist-rests are never a good idea. The keyboard IS good, but wireless is by no means superb, since it only goes up to G (not the faster Draft-N) and doesn't have Bluetooth at all. I'm sure it works, but then most laptops do :)


The actual internals are quite impressive for the money, but the battery life IS very poor compared to the competition - just take a glance at our battery benchmarks (where the power profile is kept constant across all notebooks we test). Though admittedly this is not too much of an issue for all users.


As to INSANE value for money, have you seen current pricing on the Akoya? {http://www.trustedreviews.com/...}. Aside from this you can get other notebooks offering similar specifications but with features like HDMI, Bluetooth AND better battery life from brand-names like Acer and HP for the same money.

Ohmz

February 20, 2009, 6:27 pm

I've recommended this notebook to a friend of mine as he is looking for a cheap 15 incher for the usual computing.





The issues you mention: lack of draft N, and bluetooth are not issues for us because we can specify them in the notebook on dell.ca. As well as a six or nine cell battery.





So I'm wondering, with those negatives not being an issue, would it still be a good buy for him Ardjuna?





I personally hate gloss, but he seems indifferent.

TechVegan

February 20, 2009, 7:04 pm

@Ohmz: Going for the Dell direct approach takes away a lot of the negatives in that you can, as you mention, upgrade to nearly everything the base model lacks (except for an HDMI output). However, by the time you've upgraded to things like a webcam, bluetooth and better battery the price has gone up considerably, putting it into a class of better-specified notebooks from the competition. At least, that's the case here in the UK, I don't know what pricing is like in Canada.





Fundamentally, there's nothing much wrong with the 1545, and as long as your friend doesn't mind cleaning the palm-rest after every use, it's an adequate machine for everyday use.

McPlopp

February 21, 2009, 5:14 am

@ Ardjuna - No need to be defensive mate, I'm simply offering some user feedback and it's 100% valid. I maintain that for the casual buyer (probably the target audience for this product?) this is great value for money. HDMi output and bluetooth really isn't important for me at all. (Nor would it be a deal-breaker for anyone interested in a 𧹈 laptop.) To my mind, the wifi is good because it works better than any of the other laptops in the household. It may not be the latest profile of wifi, but again, that really doesn't matter to me. What DOES matter is that it works with my wifi at home and the office seamlessly, keeps a strong signal nearly all the time and it's very easy to manage new connections etc. Value wise, I would fully expect you to know of a trendy corner of the internet where it's possible to get a better deal. (There's ALWAYS a better deal somewhere, unfortunately.) But again, I would argue that the casual buyer (AKA me and many others!) will visit PC World, Currys and Comet. Presently, this is the best value laptop you can buy from those outlets, in my opinion. PS- Liked the review, I'm just challenging the overall score :)

TechVegan

February 23, 2009, 4:12 pm

@McPlopp: Wasn't being defensive, just pointing out why I gave the 1545 the score I did . If you go for the direct approach, as I mention in my reply to Ohmz, this does take away many of the negatives, but we reviewed the configuration as it's available from PCWorld and the like.





HDMI output IS important for many people, who want to watch ripped DVDs, shows and other media on their living-room LCD TV rather than their laptop's screen. Sure, most TVs offer D-sub, but quality won't be as good as with a digital connector. As to Bluetooth, there are plenty of devices such as headphones, mice, mobile phones etc that work (sometimes exclusively) with it, and thus again I'd argue it's a handy feature for the average consumer. The lack of a webcam is also going to be a major negative for many.





On the value score, it's really not that difficult to find better specified notebooks (importantly with better batteries to boot) for only a little more than the Dell's 𧹦 asking price from major etailers, even the likes of Currys. Here is a random example from the home page: http://www.currys.co.uk/martpr.... More RAM, double the hard drive, a webcam and probably better battery life for 㿎 more...





Having said all that, I do appreciate that it might suit some just fine, and appreciate your feedback; it's always good to get the opinion of someone who owns the product to get another perspective. Glad you liked the review btw :)

Ralph Cook

February 23, 2009, 8:24 pm

I've had mine since 3rd January. All this fuss over the shiny finish! Use an anti static cloth, or carefuly apply silicone furniture polish--problem solved. I'd like HDMI bluetooth and a few other features, but Dell have put the emphasis on quality electronics in the basic product and there is certainly an advance here on the 1525. Many competitors in this class still use Pentium processors. The customers appreciate this. In 80 reviews here a couple mention the limited features, nearly all are lavish in praise of the actual perfomance. Owners, of course, usually 'overrate' their purchases, but to my mind the features issue is bearing heavily on your rating of performance. Mine cost me 𧹇 for 3Gb Ram and 250 hard drive. I could not better that for the money. You mention to McPlopp additional freatures costing 'only 㿎' more--but today 㿎 is a lot of money in the Budget computer field!

33639856

February 24, 2009, 3:38 am

i feel that this review is to critical because if you were to buy the specification that is reviewd from the dell website it would be much cheaper and thus better value for money i currently have one of these on order and feel that the specification is great value for money 𧸩 plus 㿉.00 for the coulor upgrade

TechVegan

February 24, 2009, 8:22 pm

@Ralph Cook: "but to my mind the features issue is bearing heavily on your rating of performance” - No, in fact it doesn’t have any bearing on it at all, as we have a separate Features score. What does affect it (in this case putting the 1545’s Performance score down from a possible 8 to a 6) is the terrible battery life, since we don’t have a separate score for this.





“You mention to McPlopp additional features costing ‘only 㿎’ more” - DOUBLE the hard drive size, more memory, better battery AND extra features on the first notebook I looked at on Currys’ homepage. I was demonstrating that even for McPlopp’s “the casual buyer (AKA me and many others!)” it’s not difficult to find notebooks offering far better value for money than the 1545 *as reviewed*. Especially if one actually does a little digging around, it’s easy enough to find notebooks offering similar specifications for less. And surely if you’re buying a computer that should last you the next few years, the price of a night out/less than 10% of the total price is not that great an amount?





@33639856: We reviewed the 1545 as priced and configured at PCWorld (and other e-tailers) rather than direct from Dell. Though your config still comes to 𧹒, you could probably add one point to the value score at that kind of pricing.

Ralph Cook

February 27, 2009, 9:11 pm

It's interesting to know that battery life has a two point influence on your 'performance' score, which is quite a lot. I hope Dell will do something about this-a 6 cell battery is clearly required as standard and would give at least a genuine 2.5 hours. However, although very many reviewers mention this it does not prevent them giving the 1545 an 8 or 9 rating. Fact is, very few 15.6+ widescreen laptops will ever be more than a few feet from a powerpoint. And I have booked the night out you recommend I take--it'll probably cost all of that 㿎!!

TechVegan

February 27, 2009, 10:19 pm

@Ralph Cook: It wasn't a personal recommendation, but I hope you have a great night out :)





As to the 1545, the point is we reviewed the model sold by third parties, not direct from Dell (which is currently a better-value option), and the specific model we reviewed was quite simply not particularly good value for money on any level. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad as such (which is why it still scored a six for value), it's just that there were better value options readily available from other brands.





"Fact is, very few 15.6+ widescreen laptops will ever be more than a few feet from a power point"


Of course some users don't care about battery life, but I can't imagine too many people (who would consider the 1545 in the first place) having enough money to buy a secondary ultra-portable for on the road. I know I used my 15.4in one a lot out and about before getting a netbook.

Pyro Tim

March 24, 2009, 1:07 am

The one I bought from Tesco has a webcam, but the sacrifice is for Vista Basic instead of Premium. A small price to pay. I would like HDMI and bluetooth, but not a deal breaker. 𧹈 means that this little gadget is good value for money. I agree with your glossy points, but the spec led me down this path.

NervousBreakdance

March 30, 2009, 8:21 pm

Hi there.. Thanks for a helpful and well-written review of the Inspiron 1545, but I can't help feeling that time have changed with regards to what Dell offers.. the latest machines on offer give you the options of adding much higher-spec pieces of kit. I know that reviewing Dells is nigh-on impossible since they're so customisable (as if that were a BAD thing!!) but I was wondering if you'd reappraise in a paragraph or so the latest incarnation of the Inspiron 1545. Specifically:





http://configure.euro.dell.com...





Because in my opinion an P8600 Processor, Free 2 Yr Warranty, 1.3m Webcam, cheap screen upgrade, 4MB Ram, Late-ish discrete ATI Mobility GPU, and Blu-ray for 670 make this a serious contender for Low-Mid-Price buyers, as well as adding a couple points to each rating...





What do you think? How does it compare to non-"entry-level" notebook such as a Studio 15?





Thanks (in advance) for your time...

Geordie

May 4, 2009, 11:21 pm

I bought a dell inspiron 1545@ xmas since then it freezes & has to be turned off with the on/off button,it doesnt recognise all dvd's, the battery life sucks, cant even watch a dvd on battery power, my dock freezes & the dropdown menu doesnt appear, the screen goes black & wont recover. am sick of calling dell @ my expense & going back to original factory settings........help plse ps i wont buy another one

notanexpert

May 27, 2009, 5:36 pm

I'm a current Dell Inspiron owner but after about 4/5 years mine no longer seems want to connect to the internet has become extremely slow and has lost the 'w' key since my little boy picked it off! I was just going to purchase the latest version but having read your somewhat mixed reviews I was wondering if anyone can give me a list of good alternatives in a similar price range (I have until today to purchase at the discounted £379 price). Please note I only use my laptop for internet shopping and photos/music pretty much so lack of webcams and extras isn't a must.

Mônica

May 30, 2009, 4:15 pm

Thanks for your very helpful review. I thought the short battery life of my Inspiron 1545 was a defect, and it turns out it really isn't, unfortunately.

alpap

June 11, 2009, 7:40 am

I got the 1545 from PCWorld in Mid May and found the following - paid £389.99.





Bad News : It is a Intel T4800 processor, the glossy black is a pain but worse of all there is no HDD use light !





Good News : Comes with a 320Gb HDD, Comes with bluetooth.





The OK news : battery life is poor - I get just over 2 hours watching a movie and slightly more browsing with a 70% dimmed screen.





Bought a 9 cell Dell battery for £69.99 and managed to get nearly 7 hours of life with light use, 70% dimemd screen and in Power saver mode. This battery makes the Laptop much heavier but because of the design provides a back "leg" so it sits really well with the battery in.





Very pleased with it and handles Office 2007, MS Project and MS Visio easily.



Danny.B

June 13, 2009, 10:07 am

I am currently looking for a new laptop, my current one a Compaq Presario C500 i brought for £349 from PC World 1 1/2 yeas ago, both hinges have snapped which has annoyed me.





My Dad who gets a business laptop has a dell and allways had, i think its an Precision M20 or somthing, and has been used in industrial enviroments and has lasted and worked better then mine.





The Inspiron 1545 is the laptop i am going to buy, from the dell website which they have a deal on for £349 and is sooo much better then my current one now. Battery doesnt bother me as it is allways plugged in and if its not it is only unplugged for 30-40 mins max, bluetooth isnt a problem either ok its nice to have built in but i allready have a bluetooth dongle, as for the webcam as well it would be nice built in but i have a external one ready to go. Wireless is never a problem as long as it connects to the router and stays connected. Thank you for this review.

mimi09

June 24, 2009, 4:33 am

I just got the dell inspiron 1545 as a graduation present and i love it. It works very well and it is great for school. i love that it has vista which i think is very easy to use. also it connects to my wireless internet a lot quicker than our other laptop. overall i think this is a great laptop and it was a great price!

TJB

June 27, 2009, 4:37 pm

I purchased my laptop in April. From the outset there were problems. For no reason the computer shutdown even with the sleep mode settings correctly adjusted. The shutdown always occurred while typing emails etc. Dell downloaded new drivers, but this didn't rectify it. They sent an engineer out who replaced the motherboard. This didn't work. The computer was sent away and they just put another motherboard in. You can imagine by now I was getting angry and they agreed to replace it with a new one. This they did on June 16th


The second computer does exactly the same. It just shuts down while typing. Dell have offered me a refund. There is something clearly wrong with this model for two computers to shut down repeatedly. The Dell support is poor and frankly a disgrace. Why can they not offer a solution? I would never buy a computer from Dell again, a total waste of my time and hours spent waiting for delivery and return and on the phone. I am one very unhappy customer.

stratus5ss

July 5, 2009, 9:44 pm

If you are thinking of ordering something from Dell there are a few things to keep in mind. Search the internet for coupon codes. Call Dell and ask about discounts. I order by phone and get better deals than I could have on the internet. Ask about deals on comparable models with similar or better components. I think you get better deals when you order over the phone because I negotiate with them. Shop around, be an informed consumer.

doug

July 7, 2009, 6:49 am

well, the review was spot on but pretty negative. there's a lot of good in this unit. i like the feel and look of the piano wrist rest. sure, i wipe it off everytime i use it, so what? the keys have a great feel, better than most laptops. the colors on the screen are outstanding. no, this is not a gamer's unit and doesn't hide the fact. i think vista is aesthetically cool and have enjoyed using it so far. i bought it to replace an old desktop and could care less about the battery life, which does suck, but it rarely leaves my desk, and when it does, i plug it in. the review did not accentuate the innerds of this thing. this unit is outstanding for the average schmo who looks at facebook, writes papers, checks email, surfs the internet. i have used SPSS on this for statistical analyses and it doesn't break a sweat. movies run great, and who cares about the speakers, i have 2.1 bose speakers hooked up anyway. all in all, quit nit picking and give it a look. it's a mid level book for a great price. should have a webcam, but i don't care about that either.

TechVegan

July 9, 2009, 5:07 pm

@Danny.B:


"both hinges have snapped which has annoyed me" - wow, I think most people (myself included) would be more than 'annoyed' :) if that happened, and after less than two years!





Hope you have better luck with your new purchase, and you're welcome.





@Doug:


The point was that as configured and priced from PCWorld *at the time of the review*, there were plenty of other laptops that offered more for less - and how can anyone argue against that? By now the 1545 could well be an excellent deal direct from Dell.

micegorawr

July 13, 2009, 9:00 am

i just ordered a dell inspiron 1545 i upgraded almost everything even the battery like it is 9 cell now do you know how long it would last

Kischa Gair

September 7, 2009, 4:50 pm

My Dell Inspiron 1545 was bought for me for my Birthday on the 4th of September. I think it is a very handsome Laptop, the shiny finish is very attractive and ease of use is excellent. I was dissapointed and a bit worried after reading these reviews, i havnt had any problems as of late, except for poor battery life which doesnt really matter to me. I was pleasently surpirsed by Windows Vista as i had been told it isnt as good a XP but i found it really organised and easy to use, the toolbars are very handy. I havnt had any problems with connecting to the internet yet. So far i think it was worth every penny and im very very pleased with it, but then that could just be because Ive never had a laptop before and havnt been on a higher spec laptop who knows. so all in all i think Dell have done a great job, does anyone know if the customer service is good standard incase anything does happen to go wrong with it, as i have a 3 year warrenty. Kischa

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