Dell Inspiron Z, R Series Laptops Get Intel Ivy Bridge, Starting at $550

Dell's newest Inspiron Z and R series notebooks, for campus dorm room and kitchen countertops, have received speedy Intel Ivy Bridge processors, colorful pop-on lids and pricing Dell hopes will attract value-conscious consumers.

Dell continues to introduce new PCs running Intel Ivy Bridge processors. On June 5, the company announced the June 19 availability of six Inspiron Z and R series notebooks for students and families. With a number of them compatible with Dell Switch Lids€”enabling a user to pop on a colorful lid to personalize a PC or add color to a room€”the new notebooks, says Dell, are all about everyday computing and a smart investment.

The least expensive of them starts at $550. The Dell lineup now includes the following.

The Inspiron 13z

The Z series devices are Dell€™s back-to-school machines€”sub-one-inch notebooks the company envisions in dorm rooms and being toted to libraries. The smallest of these, the 13z features a 13.3-inch 720p high-definition (HD) display with a resolution of 1366 by 768. It measures 0.82 by 13.07 by 9.05 inches and weighs 3.81 pounds.

Users can choose from processors up to third-generation Intel Core i7 and HD Graphics 4000. There€™s a 500GB hard drive, 6GB of dual-channel memory, a battery life up to 7.5 hours, and entertainment features that include Waves MaxxAudio 4, Skullcandy speakers, support for wireless streaming and surround sound, and a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) port, as well as an HD Webcam with Skype preloaded.

An 8-in-1 media card reader, a USB 3.0 PowerShare port and two USB 3.0 ports are also on board. Switch Lid options include Moon Silver, which comes standard, as well as Lotus Pink and Fire Red. Pricing will begin at $600.

Inspiron 14z

This 14-incher comes in Moon Silver or Fire Red, with a 720p HD display. Processor options run up to a third-generation Intel Core i7-3517U. Memory can be boosted up to 8GB, and hard-drive options include a 500GB with a 32GB mSATA option, as well as an optional 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). With the Core i5 or i7 setups, a user can also add AMD Radeon graphics.

The battery life here is seven hours, and the audio is Waves MaxxAudio3. The Webcam, Skype and HDMI are the same as the 13z, though there€™s only one USB 3.0 port and the media card reader is a 3-in-1. The 14z includes, however, Intel Smart Response Technology, for quick access to the most frequently used files, and Intel Rapid Start, which lets the notebook boot up in seconds.

The 14z measures 0.81 by 13.6 by 9.45, weighs 4.12 pounds and has a starting price of $700.

Inspiron 15R

There€™s nothing to keep the R series out of a dorm room, but Dell sees them also as a fit for kitchen counters and living rooms€”solid entertainment-facilitating devices with HD Webcams for Skyping the grandparents.

The 15R features a 15.6-inch HD 720p display, a quarter-hour shy of seven hours of battery life, and processor options up to a Core i7 with 6MB of cache and up to 3.1GHz.

A 500GB hard drive is standard, though there€™s the option of a 1TB 5,400 rpm Serial ATA. There€™s Waves MaxxAudio 3, Intel Wireless Display for streaming 1080p, an HDMI output, three USB 3.0 ports and an 8-in-1 media card reader. It measures 1.18 by 14.88 by 9.92 inches, weighs 6.05 pounds, and can be fitted with Switch Lids in Moon Silver, Lotus Pink, Fire Red and Peacock Blue. Pricing starts at $550.

Inspiron 17R

Here, the Switch Lids, the memory, the hard-drive options, the Wireless Display, the audio and ports all resemble the 15R. But the display grows to a 17.3-inch HD plus (900p) WLED display with TrueLife and a resolution of 1600 by 900.

The 17R measures 1.25 (at its slimmest point) by 16.4 by 10.87 inches, weighs 7.15 pounds and offers a battery life up to 5 hours, 34 minutes. Pricing starts at $600.

Dell has also included two Special Editions, a more robust 15R Special Edition and a 17R Special Edition, both in an anodized aluminum finish in Stealth Black.

Both offer up to an Intel Core i7-3612QM processor and come with three USB 3.0 ports, 8-in-1 media card readers, Intel Wireless Display with support for 1080p streaming, backlit keyboards, the Waves MaxxAudio 4 audio suite, and come standard with a DVD drive but offer a Blu-ray disk combo or Blu-ray disk read-write drive.

The 15R Special Edition has a 15.6-inch Full HD WLED display. The hard drive is 750GB, though it can run up to 1TB and there€™s the option of a 32GB mSATA SSD with Intel Rapid Start and Smart Response Technology. Memory options run up to an 8GB dual-channel double data rate type 3 (DDR3) with two dual-in-line memory-module (DIMM) slots. The battery life is not quite 5.5 hours. It measures 1.19 by 14.88 by 9.92 inches and weighs 6.10 pounds. Pricing will start at $900.

The Special Edition 17R, the biggest and baddest of the lot, features up to a 17.3-inch full HD, WLED 3D display. There€™s 8GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory, the same hard-drive options as its 15R counterpart, standard Nvidia GeForce GT graphics, a battery that can reach just under 4.5 hours and what Dell calls €œstudio quality€ Waves MaxxAudio 4 audio suite with Skullcandy speakers and a sub-woofer.

It measures 1.25 by 16.41 by 10.87 inches, weighs 7.36 pounds and starts at $1,100€”or $1,300 with the 3D display option.