Dell has redesigned its consumer laptop range of late, with the Inspiron 1520 (£699 inc. VAT) being a 15.4-inch version, while the 1720 offers a larger 17-inch panel.

In keeping with this renewed focus on consumers, you'll find you can choose from a range of eight different coloured lids, from blushing pink to standard black. These lids aren't clip-on covers, but an integral part of the design.

The first thing you will notice about this machine, other than the lid, is the sturdy build quality. Dell has learnt a valuable lesson, as the previous generation of Inspiron laptops suffered from a rather flimsy main body. This is no longer the case, as we found the 1520 to be well built and impressively tough.

Solid build

The keys are of a good size and firmly mounted to the main body. The touchpad is widescreen and mirrors the panel, making it easier to move the mouse around the screen. Overall, we were more than impressed with the build of the 1520.

When it comes to performance, this machine has been designed with power in mind. The 3.4kg chassis is on the large size, so you'll be able to get the latest high-end Core 2 Duo chips without it growing too warm - we found the chassis stayed cool even after running for long periods of time.

The Super-TFT panel is powered by an Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M GS adapter, which is powerful enough for most mainstream tasks and is the most powerful GPU you'll currently find at this price range. The screen comes with a native resolution of 1680 x 1050 pixels, which is impressive in a budget machine. This level of detail is great for games as well as when editing photos, as images look much more realistic.

Being an entry-level machine, don't expect too much in the way of extras. For instance, you can connect to external devices, but this is through the standard VGA-out port, which is analogue and not digital. However, an ExpressCard slot comes as standard, as well as 4-in-1 card reader. Along the front of the main body are a series of quick access buttons, allowing you to control DVD and audio at the click of a button.

While not designed with true mobility in mind, we found this system offered a reasonable amount of freedom with a battery life, under test, of 267 minutes.

The Dell Inspiron 1520 is an impressively sturdy laptop. If you want to opt for a different specification you can, as the 1510 uses the same chassis but it's based around an AMD processor. Whichever specification you choose, you'll be impressed with the performance and quality on offer.