Review of Dell Inspiron 5520

Dell-Inspiron-5220-Top-CoverBuying a laptop is not easy. Practically every well-known manufacturer peddles it’s products in India; at very competitive prices too. What makes it even more complicated is the plethora of models which are essentially just cosmetic makeover.

A friend of mine picked up a Dell Inspiron 5520 Laptop (Thailand model) through some friend and I had an opportunity to put it through it’s paces.

Laptop Technical Specifications:

[table “” not found /]

The Good:

  • The laptop is nice to look at. Silver fairing, interchangeable covers, white LED indicators. Compared to the Acer laptops that I have, it certainly has flair. The extensive surface area is a fingerprint magnet though.
  • The laptop keyboard has widely spaced keys and has a distinctive click / key-press. It should be pretty comfortable for typing intensive tasks. On the flip side, the keyboard does not feature a numeric keypad, the keys are not back-lit and the keyboard bends.
  • Battery life runs a modest 3 hours. Not a lot but not terrible either.
  • The display is a 15.6″ LED Back-lit Glossy panel. The display quality is very good. Colours are vibrant, display angles are good.
  • The laptop features 4 nos. USB 3.0 ports! I couldn’t be happier!!
  • The laptop was souped up with a Western Digital Caviar 1 TB HDD and additional 4 GB DDR3 RAM (bringing RAM to 8 GB)
  • The laptop features some really nice sounding stereo speakers. Audio is loud and crystal clear.
  • Webcam is pretty average. Back-light compensation is good but images lack detail. What is desired and present is the White LED indicator that lights up when the Webcam is in use.
  • The laptop runs cool. Even a 6 hour video re-encoding session did not heat up the laptop to scalding point. It only became warm.
  • The laptop features a simple slider switch to help replace the top cover. The switch slides easily enough, but the covers require an additional plastic knife to pry open. Interchangeable covers may be of interest to some and plain nuisance to others.

The Bad:

  • My friend purchased the laptop for audio recording and mixing purposes. Unfortunately, as is the trend today, the laptop comes with only a Headphone out and Stereo Mic in. There is no Line-in, Optical or Digital in/out. Fortunately, my friend owns a M-Audio Digital Interface and when paired with the Powered USB port on the laptop, it should solve all his audio requirements.
  • While I have seen a quantum jump is performance between a 1st-Gen Core i5 laptop and 2nd-Gen Core i5 laptop, the difference between 3rd-Gen i5 and 2nd-Gen i5 is so subtle that it is practically unnoticeable.

The Ugly:

  • There’s nothing outstandingly bad about the laptop that I need to highlight. However, I am disappointed in Dell’s positioning of the laptop. The laptop is being sold in India with only Core i3-2GB-500GB configuration and Plastic covers cost almost Rs. 1000!
  • Like thousands of other laptops makers out there, Dell too has produced an average product. The laptop does not come with Blue-Ray drives, Hybrid HDDs, Higher quality Webcam, Stereo Mics or Goodies such as high-end Headphones, Carry Case etc.
  • Dell has installed absolutely antiquated Networking Hardware in the machine. RealTek 100 Mbps Wired LAN, WiFi-b/g/n that barely connects to my 300 Mbps Router at only 72 Mbps, Inability to set Ad-Hoc-N parameter. The laptop scores consistently lower performance marks than my 3 year laptop.

Performance Comparison:

[table “” not found /]

Network Performance Comparison:

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Image Gallery:

Dell-Inspiron-5220-OpenKeyboard is widely spaced but lacks numeric keys Dell-Inspiron-5220-LeftVGA, HDMI, USB 3.0 and Audio ports
Dell-Inspiron-5220-RightDVD-Writer, USB 3.0 Ports, RJ-45 Ports Dell-Inspiron-5220-SpeakersLarge Speakers with sexy Speaker Grills
Dell-Inspiron-5220-Cover-LatchLatch at back of Laptop allows for switching of Top Lid Dell-Inspiron-5220-Comparison-TestLaptops undergoing WiFi Throughput Testing
130424-092315Output of Webcam (Bright Scene) 130424-092622Output of Webcam (Lowlight/Shade Scene)

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