Dell’s PR agency, XPR, passed me the Inspiron 14R and Vostro 3450 for review. Both models have identical sizes and specs with some tweaks to fit the target market. How do the features differ? Here’s a brief write-up.

The Dell Inspiron R is a laptop series that is fun, fast and stylish. Being consumer-focused, these laptops come with interchangeable lids to let you personalise the look. It comes pre-installed with applications like Dell Stage to give quick access to your multimedia content. Instead of remembering passwords, you can use face-recognition as a means to login.

The Dell Vostro 3000 series is targeted at business users, providing security features like fingerprint reader, and comes with technical support to ensure your business keeps going. Its aluminum finishing offers higher durability and can sustain more aggressive handling.

Between the 2, Inspiron R is better for these:

  • Better speakers with SRS Premium Sound
  • Swappable lids and colour choices
  • Supports Intel Wireless Display (not much use unless you have compatible devices)
  • Glossy LED display (1366×768) for the extra clarity when viewing photos and watching movies
  • Trackpad supports more multi-touch gestures than Vostro
  • Default 90W charger vs. Vostro’s 65W charger means Inspiron can charge faster.

But I prefer Vostro for these:

  • It runs visibly faster and more stable than Inspiron. I attribute that to the faster 7200rpm hard drive, or perhaps Dell souped up the Vostro. Or perhaps Inspiron has more background services that slow it down.
  • Matt LED display (1366×768) is more comfortable for lengthy use
  • Aluminum finishing at the back of the laptop and the sides. The Inspiron could suffer scratches more easily with its plastic gloss material.
  • Back-lit keyboard, excellent for low-light use
  • Slightly lighter
Brushed finishing of Inspiron R

Professional matt look of Vostro

Apart from above, both laptops have identical hardware ports placements, fan vents, keyboard layout, etc.

  • eSATA-USB-PowerShare combo port. PowerShare allows you to charge your devices even when the laptop is powered down.
  • 2x USB 3.0 Super Speed ports
  • HDMI ports, supports 1.4 for 3D output
  • Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • HD camera
  • DVD+-RW Combo Drive
  • Switchable graphics with integrated and discrete options
  • 3 Quick Launch keys to the right of the keyboard.
I’d prefer the Vostro design for its practicality.

Prices for both these laptops start from about $900, depending on your configuration. If you are comparing laptops with other brands and models, make sure you are comparing with the same specs. Some things to look out for:

  • Processor speed (e.g. 2.3GHz) and recency (“latest 2011 2nd-gen”)
  • RAM size (e.g. 4GB) and speed (e.g. 1333MHz)
  • Number of connectivity ports (USB, eSATA, HDMI, VGA, LAN, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.)
  • Screen resolution and size
  • Battery size – the more the cells, the longer it lasts.
  • Graphics card – integrated is less powerful than discrete
  • Hard disk size (e.g. 500GB) and speed (e.g. 7200rpm)
  • Pre-installed software
  • Warranty coverage

Lastly, of course, is on the intangible factors:

  • Brand preference
  • Design preference

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