The Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 laptop which recently dropped by our review labs seemed to make a decent pick for a mid-ranged notebook right away. Based on its target audience, the main aspects that we’d hope to find covered in such a device are mobility, an eye-catchy design, a good balance between performance and battery life. And when it comes to the Dell N5110, it appears to have an adequate offering of each. This particular laptop comes with various hardware options and the rig we received comprises of a 2.10GHz Intel Core i3 2301M Sandy Bridge processor, a 300GB HDD, 4GB DDR3 RAM and switchable graphic processors that includes the on-board Intel HD graphics family and the discreet 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 535M GPU.
Dell may have given its latest notebook series a stylish appearance, but the fact that laptops are moving towards a more compact and lightweight form factor is what we feel the company has left out in the 15R N5110. The device sports an elegant design with a smooth and glossy finish that’s also fingerprint-friendly. Yes, that’s right, we had a nice display of finger-grease all over the body just after we brightened up the room. Wiping it clean was also pointless as those smudge stains just kept coming on as soon as we laid our hands back on the notebook. One noteworthy fact besides its attractive looks is the interchangeable lids. Now who wouldn’t want a laptop that can flaunt a new design each day?
When it comes to placing components, the company has taken up a rather interesting approach. The laptop’s front sports a clean look by holding only two speakers and four LEDs which show power usage, HDD activity, Wi-Fi as well as battery status. On looking at both sides, we noticed a total of two USB ports, one with the 2.0 interface and the other was a high speed USB 3.0 port. These were accompanied by a HDMI slot, an eSATA-USB combo connector with USB PowerShare for charging peripherals, an optical drive and a microphone as well as earphone jack. What’s more, the latop also has an 8-in-one card reader on the left. When flipped over to its rear we found a VGA port, an additional USB 3.0 port, a LAN socket and an AC adapter connector. Resting just beneath the display is the keyboard with a numeric keypad, the touch pad, the power button and quick launch options for specific settings.
While the specifications sheet notes a resolution of 1024 x 768p, the Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 notebook comes with a 15.6-inch HD WLED True-Life display. Clarity wise, the screen works beautifully even in low brightness settings. We enjoyed watching HD movies as they played smoothly whilst images presented themselves in bright and vivid colors. However, the laptop doesn’t support full HD playback, which means all videos were limited to 720p quality, including 1080p captures.
Speed and stability wise, the Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 stands tall and performs without any lags. The credit mostly goes to the 2.10GHz Core i3 processor stored under its hood and to back it up, the 4GB of RAM is more than sufficient for running demanding applications. When it comes to gaming on the Dell Inspiron 15R series, most titles should run smoothly at medium or low settings. But if you go for the Core i5 CPU option, there definitely would be a greater chance for higher compatibility with new releases. The Nvidia GFX comes in as the discreet GPU and works hand-in-hand with the Intel HD graphics family. This dual card support plays an important role in the availability of battery life. Upon being fully charged, a task which took us around 4 hours when the laptop was powered down, we derived an approximate of 7 hours and 40 minutes whilst browsing over Wi-Fi on power saver mode. And on high performance settings, we only managed to obtain around 3.5 hours with normal usage. In Balanced mode, we noticed only an hour’s worth of extra battery.
To save power, the laptop runs on the embedded graphics chip. And whenever the need for higher performance was required, we could conveniently switch between the two GPUs by right-clicking on the desired application and selecting the ‘Run with graphics processor’ option. Also, the change can be made permanent by setting the default GPU to the discreet card instead of relying on Intel. However, doing so could seriously affect the battery life. The storage unit fitted within the notebook amounted to 300GB.
Whilst browsing the internet, the first thing that came to our attention was the lack of a scroll section on the touch pad. It didn’t take us long to research and figure out that the mouse pad supports multi-touch gestures for carrying out certain operations, but that didn’t work out as well. Although the user manual claims the presence of specific gesture settings within the ‘mouse’ tab inside the control panel, we never managed to locate it despite our search efforts. For live chatting, we had the 1MP HD webcam which allowed us to record in 720p quality through the Dell WebCam application that was bundled with a few effects for capturing images and videos as well.
Entertainment wise, we felt that the speakers were placed in precise locations through which the sound was likely to reflect off the front surface and gain a slight boost in output. For listening pleasure, we found the SRS Premium Sound to pack in some good quality audio. What amazed us the most was, the Nvidia 3D vision support within a mid-ranged notebook. But sadly due to its requirement of an external 3D display we couldn’t go hands-on with the feature. The Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 also comes with the Intel Wi-Di technology for wirelessly streaming HD video as well 3D content onto a compatible HDTV.
The notebook has a stylish design and the interchangeable lids lend the added flexibility for customization.
The discreet Nvidia GeForce GT 535M gives added performance boost to mid-level gaming.
Nvidia 3D vision support and Intel Wi-Di technology provide a good boost for entertainment.
Portability-wise the company could have focused a bit more on cutting down the weight.
The display supports only up till 720p HD video quality, so no full HD playback.
The keyboard could use a backlight for allowing easier typing in low light conditions.
The Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 makes a good pick as a mid-ranged notebook with a starting price of $499.99 or Rs. 35,300. And for the review unit being one of the starter models in the pack, it wraps in some good performance. On looking at its target segment, the laptop comes with adequate features that are capable of meeting most requirements and based on these, we feel it deserves an 8.5 out of 10.