Laptop reviews: Dell XPS 15 and the Asus Eee PC 1015PN-PU17
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Laptops make wonderful holiday gifts, for yourself or someone near and dear to you. Whether you're looking for a desktop replacement or a netbook, we have you covered today with reviews of the Dell XPS 15 and the Asus Eee PC 1015PN-PU17.
The Dell XPS 15 is a 15.6-inch laptop that combines solid performance, features, and design into a complete package. At a base price of $799.99, the XPS 15 makes a solid bid as a mainstream laptop for common tasks and entertainment. Dell offers the XPS 15 with a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor.
The $799.99 configuration of the XPS 15 comes with a 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5-460M processor with 3M of cache. The i5 processor is not as powerful as the i7 processor from Intel, but it does offer plenty of performance that should satisfy most users. You can upgrade the laptop to come with a i7 processor, but it will cost you. As it stands, the XPS 15 with the i5-460M, and its multiple cores allow you to perform basic functions like Internet browsing, multitasking, multimedia viewing, and more. Added multitasking help comes in the form of 4 GB of DDR3 SDRAM.
The base configuration of the XPS 15 has a 500 GB hard drive that should provide enough storage for most casual users' data. Graphics are handled by a combination of an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD card and a Nvidia GeForce GT420M card. The inclusion of the Nvidia card means that you can play games on the XPS 15. To help improve battery life, Nvidia Optimus technology will switch between graphics cards depending on what tasks you are doing to help conserve battery life.
Speaking of battery life, it is average. The included six-cell battery gives around three hours of usage when fully charged. Needless to say, the XPS 15 is not ideal for frequent travelers who need a lot of battery life from their laptop. Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit is the operating system that comes pre-installed.
Additional features begin with a DVD drive for watching movies and listening to CDs. Connections to wireless networks can be had via the integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi. If you want to video chat with friends, there is an integrated webcam and microphone. A media card reader is on board for fast data transfers with other digital devices such as cameras. You won't find some extras such as Bluetooth or Blu-ray, but those can be had if you upgrade the configuration through the Dell website for an added cost.
The XPS 15 boasts an attractive design the mixes colors with a brushed aluminum lid and a mostly black/brushed metal color scheme. The laptop is a tad bulky, and is not really ideal for frequent traveling due to its size. It will do, but those who travel for a living may want something smaller and more compact. The 15.6-inch LED-backlit display has a resolution of 1,366 x 768. The display offers good color and graphics, and those who want a full HD display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution can upgrade to that. The laptop has integrated JBL speakers that are superb and provide plenty of volume, making the XPS 15 a solid choice as an entertainment device.
The keyboard features wide, flat keys that are slightly raised and easy to type on. Some possible extra keyboard real estate is taken up by the large integrated speakers. The touch pad is very spacious and supports multi-touch gestures. Its finish also provides good grip and is responsive. Connectivity on the XPS 15's standard configuration is decent. Unlike many new laptops, Dell opted to put some connectivity on the back panel. In all, you get three USB ports, a HDMI port, an Ethernet port, a Mini DisplayPort, and microphone and headphone jacks. There is no VGA port, nor is there eSATA.
At its base configuration and price, the Dell XPS 15 is a solid laptop for casual tasks, gaming, and entertainment. Its performance and design are good, and should you need to configure it to your needs, you can do so easily on Dell's website.
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