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The Arrival:
I picked the the Dell Inspiron 17 after my college graduation. Intel i5 Core processor, let’s see what you can do! [I forgot to write down the actual model #, but oh well.]

The notebook was delivered in a huge cardboard box. Despite its starting weight of 6.8 lbs, it felt surprisingly light for its dimensions. Perhaps it was only a tad heavier than my 15″. The shell was sleek, but easy to smudge. There were ports galore.

Display:
With so much LCD real estate, it was a breeze cascading and accessing multiple windows. The experience of scrolling through websites, however, was similar to that of a smaller display (the screen height seemed unchanged).

The LCD was very bright. The lowest setting was fine, except when in direct sunlight. The biggest downside: I couldn’t escape the persistent glare from the glossy screen.


Operating System:
Windows 7 is a darling, with the crisp aesthetics of Vista and the familiarity of XP.

Mobility:
The notebook did not fit in any of my backpacks/bags. The solution was to have it ride shotgun in my car en route to the cafe. A 17″ notebook is not recommended for travelers—it’s bulky and wants to lounge around at home.

Keyboard | Audio:
The keypad felt like an add-on to fill up all the space below the display. The numeric keypad offset the keyboard & touchpad, which shifted my typing posture. Is this ergonomic? My head & eyes would naturally center on the display, but my hands were at an awkward left-ward slant.

The speakers were on the bottom of the laptop, so the audio was always muffled. The default equalizer settings were unusual; voices sounded garbled even at high volume . The left cooling fan activated sporadically and would drown out the sound from the left side of the laptop, worsening the sound quality.

I would ditch the keypad in favor of a centered keyboard with [big!] speakers by its side. I own a USB keypad and I rarely use it.

Multitasking:
Scrolling through hundreds of image & text-laden posts was absolutely seamless. No skips or misses. Same with long PDFs on Adobe Acrobat Reader. I streamed music and barreled through YouTube videos & movie trailers. I blogged and read the news. I watched seasons of Mad Men and revisited Breaking Bad, sometimes on fullscreen or minimized next to a web browser. I edited multiple files on Photoshop.

I tried all of the above, all at once. Hm. I could keep a million tabs and applications open because they never lagged. Even when I let my friend  run an unnamed engineering/modeling program in the background, the performance did not suffer. That’s awesome. It must be the Intel i5 Core processor at work.

Final thoughts:
I went back to my laptop and netbook and they seemed…slow [why aren’t you fast as an i5!?]…and the LCDs…minute. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

—-
FTC Disclaimer: I was sent an Intel i5 Core notebook to test drive for a week, as part of the Intel Youth Review Program.

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