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Dell Inspiron N5010

Many Filipino consumers still choose to buy desktops for home use, but with the emergence of the mobile lifestyle as well as the ever-changing trends in the computing world, the laptop camp is seeing growing numbers. Can the Dell Inspiron N5010 (internationally known as the 15R) entice more people to ditch desktops once and for all? Let's find out.

This 15-inch machine has several things going for it that would definitely get the attention of both casual users and discerning geeks. The test unit that was sent to us has a lid clad in an electric-blue hue along with a "brushed metal" finish for the interior. Yes, it's pretty and easy on the eyes, so Dell scores big for that one. Instead of positioning the screen right at the top edge of the laptop (as is customary), there is a small protrusion behind the hinges, giving it a slightly unusual look.

The first clue that the N5010 is meant to be a desktop replacement is seen with the inclusion of a numeric keypad; this doesn't make proper key spacing a possibility, requiring folks to adjust the way they type when they first use it. However, the numeric keypad really comes in handy when doing accounting work or data entry.

The ports are positioned all over the laptop's sides, even in the back portion; this layout isn't a big deal, but it's certainly confusing. Seeing HDMI and e-SATA ports alongside the usual USB ports put a wide smile on our faces.

Of course, a person shouldn't base his or her purchase purely on face value. An Intel Core i3 processor takes center stage here, along with the usual suspects: 4GB of DDR3 memory, Intel Series 5 chipset, and 320GB HDD (a little small if you ask us, but it's nothing external or online storage can't fix; the latter is already addressed by Dell, as seen below).

Dell has also provided 2 proprietary programs. The first is the Dell Dock, which gives users shortcuts for the most used functions like Internet/email access, media, photos, office applications, and user support. The second program is Dell DataSafe Online, a feature that gives users an extra 2GB of storage space provided that you have an existing DataSafe Online account. The inclusion of this feature is very handy for consumers who require more space and reminds us of other manufacturer-tied Internet storage facilities like HP Upline (now closed), ASUS WebStorage, and the Lenovo-EMC partnership via Mozy.

Now, on to the most important part: performance. Dell states that the N5010 has a battery life of 4 hours, but Battery Meter debunks that claim, showing a real battery life of 2 hours and 18 minutes. A Windows Experience Index base score of 1.0 was a jawdropper – for all the power under its hood, graphics proved to be the weakest link, so to speak.

We couldn't really enjoy our games, movies and videos because the N5010 provided choppy playback (but the sound was great). This negative aspect can also be seen when we ran Novabench 3; all tests went without a hitch except for the 3D graphics test. Resolution was limited to 1024 x 768, which undesirably stretched out the text and graphics on the screen. Figuring out why this lappie was given lousy graphics would definitely lead to a long period of head-scratching. This epic fail aside, the notebook can handle all other computing tasks well.

The Dell Inspiron N5010 was a promising product and raised our expectations, but fell short of them in the end. We really do hope that Dell redeems itself with future notebook models. Hold on to what you've got, people, at least for now.

Click here to see the Dell Inspiron N5010 in the Buyer's Guide.