Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series sports an unusual camera


Minuses: Unimpressive battery life, only one USB 3.0 port

Of Dell's latest Inspiron 15 5000 Series laptops, this is the most pricey.

Unlike the others, this Dell has a touch screen. It is a nice display, too, with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution and good viewing angles.

But its most interesting feature is the Intel RealSense 3D camera located above the screen.

The first thing I did was to configure the camera to recognise my face so I could unlock the laptop without having to type in my lengthy password. Then, I tried a few RealSense apps at appshowcase.intel.com that Intel had recommended.

Lego Portal Racer is a racing game in which you control a hoverboard using head and hand movements as captured by the RealSense camera.


  • PRICE: $1,599

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-5500U (2.4GHz)

    GRAPHICS: AMD Radeon R7 M270

    RAM: 8GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 43 watt-hour


  • FEATURES: 1 2 3 4 5

    DESIGN: 1 2 3 4 5

    PERFORMANCE: 1 2 3 4 5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 1 2 3 4 5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1 2 3 4 5

    OVERALL: 1 2 3 4 5

In practice, I had to move my body to avoid obstacles, while raising my hand to grab objects. It was fun, but I cannot see myself playing the game for long because it is more tiring than using the keyboard, mouse or gamepad.

3DMe uses the RealSense camera to create a 3D scan of my face. This is then superimposed on action figures, including characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation or Ghostbusters. The resulting action figure can be bought from the company.

Personify lets users customise the background of a video chat. Instead of having your messy room be visible to your chat partner, he or she will see a background of your choice. Personify works with popular chat apps such as Skype and Google Hangouts.

This handsome 15-inch laptop has a silver and black design that some may find a tad plain. It is also hefty, weighing almost 2.5kg minus the power adapter.

Key travel is not great and the keyboard is not backlit.

The laptop could do with more USB 3.0 ports. Of its three USB ports, only one uses the faster 3.0 interface. There is also an Ethernet port and an SD card slot but no optical drive.

The Dell is not a gaming PC although it has a dedicated AMD graphics chip.

It runs older games such as Bioshock Infinite at a barely acceptable level. At Low setting, it managed just 27 frames per second, which is less than ideal.

With an Intel Core i7 chip and 8GB of memory, this Dell laptop has above-average hardware. But it is disappointing that Dell could not fit in a solid-state drive instead of the slower 1TB hard drive, especially given the $1,599 price tag.

Battery life was unimpressive at three hours and 50 minutes. I was expecting around five hours based on Dell's own estimate of 7.5 hours.

  • Its unusual camera makes this mainstream laptop more interesting than its peers.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series sports an unusual camera'. Print Edition | Subscribe