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Dell Inspiron 14z – Usability, Screen, Speakers, Software

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

Dell Inspiron 14z – Keyboard and Touchpad

With a chassis this large there’s plenty of room for a full-size keyboard, and aside from a slightly narrow Enter key, that’s exactly what Dell provides on the Inspiron 14z. At this kind of price you wouldn’t expect it to be backlit, but it is spill-proof which is nice for those lethal cups of tea or coffee.

Layout is pretty much spot-on with good placement of secondary functions. Keys offer a nice crisp response with decent travel and, despite that flex we mentioned earlier, this 14z Ultrabook is generally a pleasure to type on. Sure it’s no Lenovo ThinkPad, but we wouldn’t mind doing a full day’s word processing on it.

The touchpad sports a matt surface that strikes a happy medium between smooth and rough. It’s responsive (too much so out of the box, but this can easily be toned down in settings) and nice to use, especially since it also offers individual physical buttons with great feedback. Overall then, the Dell Inspiron 14z manages a pretty good score on the usability front.

Dell Inspiron 14z – Screen

As the Dell Inspiron 14z is not a convertible tablet, it’s no surprise to see that we’re back to our good old frenemy the TN panel (rather than a lovely IPS panel) for its 14-inch display - with all the former’s viewing angle limitations. Naturally, the standard budget laptop resolution of 1,366 x 768 is also present and accounted for.

From the right angle, you get punchy colours and deep blacks, aided by a glossy screen finish. The Inspiron 14z’s good performance here is aided by even backlighting with no backlight bleed whatsoever. However, banding is definitely visible on smooth gradients. Brightness isn’t very high and that glossy finish can cause annoying reflections.

While horizontal viewing angles are just about good enough, vertically even a few degrees can cause severe contrast shift. In other words, you need to angle the screen just right if you don’t want to end up with a game or movie that looks like a photo negative, and even for desktop work everything will look severely faded-out if you don’t maintain the ideal viewing angle.

Dell Inspiron 14z – Speakers

For the speakers in its non-premium Inspiron 14z Ultrabook range, Dell has chosen to go with Skullcandy – a brand best known for affordable headphones. The results are not bad, but they’re not exactly Toshiba Harman/kardon material either.

Managing a reasonable volume level without serious distortion but lacking finesse and detail, we’d class them as about average. They’re also located just above the base’s outer trim at the front, which is not an ideal location if you’re using the Dell Inspiron 14z on your lap.

Dell Inspiron 14z – Software

As with almost every made-to-order laptop these days, the Dell Inspiron 14z comes with Windows 8. While it’s certainly true that touch helps to get the most out of this OS, it’s usable without. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Dell brought a touch-screen option to its Inspiron range at some stage.

rebecca

March 31, 2013, 11:57 am

I have been using the dell 14z ultrabook for the past 2 months and think it's about time to give a review. One of the worst features about this ultrabook, and not pointed out, is the utterly horrible quality of the bulit in webcam. I read many reviews complaining how heavy this ultabook is, but honestly the weight isn't a problem for me. It's light enough to carry around where ever I go, very slim too. The graphics are excellent and I really love the island-style keyboard even though there is no back lighting Like any other laptop, you can change the touch pad settings and sensitivity so the touch pad is no biggie. It doesn't heat up like those hp laptops which burn your thighs. In fact, this laptop keeps pretty cool. Of course, this depends on what programs you're running. I usually only use this pc to surf the net, do assignments, watch videos and stuff like that. Once I tried to run XCOM and it heated up really fast. So, yeah, for all those gamers out there, this is most definitely not for you. I hope this review helped:)

Charlotte

August 21, 2013, 8:57 pm

I love this laptop! I got mine about 3 months ago, and totally love it. I agree that the webcam sucks, but so what. It has GREAT battery life, is very light, and does everything I need it to do and more for school. Definitely reccomend! (If you're thinking of getting one, there are student discounts on Dell's website, and also check out some coupon sites for further discounts, I got mine for a steal!!)

Kholo

October 4, 2013, 6:31 pm

I've had mine for about 2 months now and I hate it! First of all it is not as fast as I expected it to be. As I said it has only been two months but my "escape" button fell out the other day and I had to put it back in. The "inspiron" on the front below the screen has the "n" missing and I have no idea how that happened so this laptop is physically not strong at all, it's poor quality. And it's not at all because I'm careless, I used my previous laptop for 4 years and it still works and in good shape. Yes the webcam really sucks but I don't mind that half as much as when my mouse pointer just freezes for the longest time and I have to sit there and wait for my "ultra-responsive" ultrabook to start working again. Another thing is when it goes into "sleep-mode". Sometimes if I leave it on for a while the screen switches itself off but the on button does not switch it on again like it should when you wake it from a normal sleep mode. The on button stays on (does not flash on and fade off like it does when it's in sleep mode) but the screen is black. Pressing any button on the keyboard doesn't help nor does pressing the on button. The only remedy is to press and hold the on button to switch it off completely and then press again to restart it. And then lastly, my battery capacity, even with such good care is already reduced from about 5 hours initially to 2hr 15 min. I can't believe it! I feel as if I have a second hand laptop. I've been terribly disappointed. I hope Dell will solve all these problems because at the moment I'm not happy at all!

Jessica

October 21, 2013, 6:28 pm

This is an awful computer! DO NOT BUY. Super slow. About 2 months into owning my 14z, the screen got damaged and needed replacement. Turns out these screens are so poorly designed that Dell has already stopped producing them, which has made it a pain to replace. Computer also freezes up a lot. Not wroth your money, and CERTAINLY not an ultrabook.

neutron

October 30, 2013, 6:07 pm

Its a nice laptop i am saying because i used allot of different laptop brands for more then 6 year now i bought Dell inspiron 14z which seems to me a cool one due to it design ,weight and battery life and price as compare to other models in the market .Some people know nothing about laptops they bought a laptop for internet surfing and when Youtube video stop buffering they just stat blaming that this Laptop is a piece of shit.So be careful while reading any such review .
The battery life of this laptop on light use is 3 hours and 40 min almost and with heavy use its 2 hours 30 min appox.

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