The newly refreshed Inspiron 14R continues the Inspiron 14 line-up with Intel's 2nd generation Sandy Bridge processor. Even if you pick the entry-level Core i3 version, you'll still be rocking the latest tech with great performance capability for any basic computing needs.
The new 14-incher comes in a sleeker styling, with a less boxy look than previous Inspiron line-ups. Weighing in at less than 5 lbs (at 4.95 lbs, just a hair lighter), the 14R, while not super light, is not exactly a 6-7 lb beast either. The 6-cell battery provides you with about 5 hours of battery life, a very respectable amount for a modern laptop. In my opinion, anything over 4 hours of battery life is decent for a transcontinential flight.
All 14R models comes with a 1.3MP webcam along with Intel Centrino Wireless-N, giving you a better balance between WiFi and battery life. Processor choice are in the form of a Core i3-2310M or the faster Core i5-2410M (which Turbos up to about 2.9Ghz, compared to the 2.3Ghz Core i3. Both option is plenty fast for most computing task you can imagine, unless you'll be heavily encoding video, running CAD software, or compiling code, sticking to the Core i3 option will be just fine.
Notable optional add-ons are the Netgear Push2TV adapter, which allows for Wireless Display option for $80 (so you can easily sync the display to a supported TV/projector without fussing with cable), and in the Core i5 version, you can opt for the faster Radeon HD 6470M GPU for $100, a good option if you need more a faster entertainment/multimedia solution (e.g., playing the latest games!).
We recommend with going at least 4GB of RAM on the Inspiron, but if the upgraded memory is out of your budget range, you can always opt for third party RAM later on in the future, which should be easily replaceable in this laptop (simply unscrew the backplate and install the bigger memory module).
Here's the simple fact: the i5 version of the 14R is just as fast as the newest MacBook Pro 13, which is basically twice the price in cost. Obviously, you get other features with the MacBook Pro and both laptops aren't really directly comparable, but the major internal hardware points are the same deal. If you like the styling and the price fits your budget, the new Inspiron 14R is a no-frills 14-inch laptop at a good price point (especially when coupons are available) from a major manufacture.