When reviewing the Dell XPS 15z this summer, it was hard not to notice how comparatively slim it was to the normal XPS 15--and how thick so many of Dell's laptops are by comparison. While the Inspiron R series is hardly as large as the XPS, it's miles away from anything one would call thin and light.
Dell's newly unveiled Inspiron 13z and 14z laptops are a continuation of the thinner laptop trend, but they're a bigger deal for most consumers: they're 13- and 14-inchers, and they're relatively budget-oriented mainstream machines as opposed to high-end. It's a repeat of what Dell did just a few years ago with the Inspiron line, but revisited on the latest-generation laptops.
U.S. consumers, your hand has been chosen: the Inspiron 14z is the only model currently available here. Models start at a surprisingly reasonable $599 on Dell's site, which gets you a second-gen Intel Core i3-2330M processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. It also has Intel Wireless Display, a potentially useful feature dropped off of most laptops in this price range.
At nearly an inch thick, you'd hardly confuse the Inspiron 14z for a "thin" laptop, but it's far closer to what people are expecting now in terms of overall laptop size. It's good news that Dell's passing on the chassis-slimming to the budget-shoppers, too. The Inspiron 14z has an internal DVD drive, whereas the 13z doesn't.
It's a shame the Inspiron 13z isn't available in the U.S.--it's in select Asian markets only--because, frankly, it seems like the perfect size, although this slimming-down of the Inspiron design is much appreciated.