Dell inspirson 1545

While it's easy to see why the Inspiron 1545 is so incredibly popular, it's also immediately clear where Dell has cut corners.

The look and feel of the machine is incredibly plasticky, and the casing is so shiny and thin that there was a positive 'creak' upon opening the machine, like a fat guy in PVC trousers sitting down.

It also weighs a lot compared to its more svelte brethren: at 2.58kg, you won't be wanting to take it with you on your trek across the Pyrenees unless you fancy a tremendous work out and a bad back.

Inside, though, there's quite a lot to like.

Specs in detail

Our test model came with a decent Dual Core Pentium CPU and 4GB of RAM, although both of these bump up the core price by almost £200. The standard option is a less-sprightly but still Atom-beating 2.20GHz Celeron processor and 1GB of RAM, which will just about do for day-to-day computing.

Dell is obviously hoping to sell the Inspiron 1545 on its screen, though. It is huge, and the 16:9 aspect ratio makes the laptop feel a lot bigger than the standard 16:10.

It's a shame it's not very good. At 1,366 x 768 pixels the resolution feels stretched, the colours are washed out, and the viewing angle is terrible.

It seems stingy of Dell, especially when you consider that Sony managed to pack the same resolution into its 10.1" W-Series netbook, with mouth-wateringly crisp results.

Dell inspirson 1545

It's not all bad, though.

The included DVDRW and 720p high-definition playback are sure to please movie buffs, and the speakers are surprisingly full for a low-price lappy.

Gaming on the Dell 1545

Gamers should stay away: it only packs an Intel GMA 4500MHD, which will stumble to play most modern games. As an option, Dell does offer an ATI HD4330, which for a mere £45 will bump up its performance a bit.

Maybe not up to Crysis levels, but you should be able to enjoy Half-Life 2 on it.

Pleasingly, the keyboard is responsive and feels like something from a higher-priced machine.

The trackpad and buttons feel cheaper, though, and there are no dedicated media keys. It also lacks bluetooth and a webcam - both of which have become standard fare in today's netbooks - although these can be added by Dell for £65, or you could pick up cheapo USB ones for £20.

While we're on the subject, it does include three USB ports, VGA-out and a memory card reader.

Battery life is surprisingly decent, too, and we managed to get a good four hours out of the four-cell battery pack. If you're using it to watch DVDs on the train you can expect this to dip a bit due to the mechanics of the DVD drive.