The Dell Inspiron and Sony Vaio are two mainstream lines of laptop computers, each with a wide range of sub-models to meet consumer needs. If you're looking to purchase one or the other, a comprehensive comparison between the two can help tip the balance in one direction or the other. Being different offerings from different manufacturers, the Inspiron and Vaio series feature numerous differences in key features such as hardware, screens, security and operating systems.
Base Model Range
The Inspiron and Vaio are both overarching monikers for a wide product range, encompassing several models for each. Inspiron model ranges are named primarily for the sizes of their screens, while Vaio models use a letter-based system and offer varying screen sizes on each model. The Inspiron line includes four model types: 15, 15R, 17R and 13z. The Vaio line includes five models: E, S, T, Z and Duo. Unlike the Inspiron series, which has a number of sub-models, the Vaio series has instead a number of variable component options to consider during customization.
The Inspiron's four models offer several sub-models, each with hardware differences and price points. The Inspiron 15 comes in two varieties, 4GB RAM and 6GB RAM respectively. The 15R and 17R each have four models, which successively scale up in memory, equipped processor and hard disk space. The 13z comes in two varieties, differentiated by equipped RAM and differing processors.
Operating System Options
All Inspiron models have Microsoft's 64-bit Windows 8 operating system pre-installed. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit comes with most Vaios, with exception to the Z and Duo, which are equipped with Windows 7 Ultimate and 64-bit Windows 8 respectively.
Display Size Ranges
The four models in the Inspiron range have fixed screen sizes for each model. Both 15 models feature a 15.6-inch screen, as do all four of the 15R models. The 17R models all feature a 17.3-inch display, while the 13z models are equipped with a 13.3-inch display. Each model of the Vaio offers differing size ranges. The E series offers 11.6, 14, 15.5 and 17.3-inch displays, while the S series only offers 13.3 and 15.5-inch displays. The T series offers 13.3 and 14-inch displays, while the Z and Duo are only offered with 13.1 and 11.6-inch displays respectively.
Hardware - Inspiron Series
Inspiron processors range from Intel Core i3-2350M processors to Intel Core i7-3632QM processors, while RAM ranges from 4GB of single-channel DDR3 SDRAM to upwards of 8GB dual-channel DDR3 SDRAM. Hard disk sizes begin at 500GB, with a maximum HDD size of 1TB. Inspiron 15 models have an 8X tray loading CD/DVD burner, while the 15R and 17R feature dual-layer 8X CD/DVD burners and the 13z has no optical media drive at all. All models feature at least Intel HD Graphics 4000 video cards, with top-tier models of the 15R and 17R instead featuring Nvidia GeForce GT 630M 1GB graphics cards.
Hardware - Vaio Series
Vaio hardware ranges considerably based on selected components. Processors range from the Intel Core i3-3110M to the Intel Core i7-3632QM. Other available processors include the Intel Pentium B980 and the AMD E2-1800. RAM memory varies from 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM to upward of 12GB of DDR3 SDRAM. Hard disk drives start at 320GB and ends at 1TB drives, although some models feature solid state drives starting at 128GB and going to 512GB. All but one model of the E series feature CD/DVD burner, with the exception featuring a Blu-ray disc player. The S series all feature at least a CD/DVD burner with Blu-ray players optional. The Z and Duo feature no optical drives, while the T series offers models both with and without CD/DVD burners. All models feature at least an Intel HD Graphics 4000 video card, with select models featuring AMD Radeon HD 7670M cards, and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE cards in 1GB and 2GB varieties.
Inspiron prices begin at varying points based on model/sub-model, and vary with software and support customization options. Inspiron 15 models begin at $400 and $450, while 15R models start at $550, $650 and $800. Inspiron 17R models start at $600, $650, $700 and $850 while the 13z models start at $600 and $750. Vaio prices range considerably based on customization options selected. E series Vaios start at $450, while the S and T series starts at $670. The Z series starts at $1,440 while the Duo starts at $1,200.
Touch-Screen and Security Features
The several models in the Vaio series also feature touch-screen capability and/or fingerprint sensor security technology. Select models of the E and T series feature touch screens, but none feature fingerprint scanners, while select models of the S series and all models of the Z series have fingerprint scanners but no touch-screen capability. All Duo models feature a touch screen but no fingerprint scanner and are designed to act as a combination of laptop and tablet PC.