So what kind of internals does the 1545 hide under its plain but glossy shell for its bargain price? Well, they're actually a little better than you might expect. The cast is led by an Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 running at 2.0GHz with an 800MHz front-side bus. This is fast enough to easily handle any software you'd want to use on a notebook like this. As to memory, 3GB of DDR2 RAM is as much as the installed 32-bit version of Windows Vista Premium can handle.
Intel integrated GMA4500 graphics are as poor for gaming as ever, but should cope with most everything else without problems. Meanwhile, storage is handled by a 250GB 5,400rpm hard drive, which is plenty of storage for normal use. Of course, you can't expect Bluetooth or anything beyond Wireless-G, though we'd hoped for it anyway. A slower wireless standard won't make too much difference for many users, but Bluetooth is becoming ever more prolific and its absence is regrettable.
When it comes to software, the Inspiron 1545 presents a very clean desktop, with an eBay shortcut the only obvious sign of bloatware. Dell's Mac-like launch-bar is also an attractive and useful addition to the standard Windows Vista UI.
Finally, we come to the 1545's Achilles heel: its battery life. This Inspiron has the undistinguished honour of failing to complete the Productivity benchmark because the four-cell battery ran out before a single iteration could complete. In the non-intensive Reader test it managed a pathetic 89 minutes, compared to the usual minimum of 150.
To put this into even bleaker perspective, the recently reviewed Toshiba Satellite A350-11N (which despite being more expensive is also a budget notebook) managed 201 minutes in the same test. As usual another battery could be purchased separately, but out of the box the 1545 will disappoint even the least demanding of users with its lack of longevity, while there is no shortage of deals out there for notebooks that cost around the same but offer more features.
In a nutshell: if you're looking for a cheap and simple family laptop with reasonable speakers, the Dell Inspiron 1545 is worth considering. However, appalling battery life really hampers an otherwise solid but unspectacular effort that is inferior to the model it replaces.