Dell Inspiron 710m
At a Glance
Dell Inspiron 710m
Wide-screen ultraportable with a sleek case has a short battery life but performs well and comes with media software.
This likable little notebook with its sleek satin-silver finish starts at $1349 and comes with some nice Media Center-style software.
PC World tested a more expensive $1786 configuration, featuring a top-of-the-line 2-GHz Pentium M 755 processor and 512MB of RAM. Our test unit earned a WorldBench 5 score of 82, so it has enough processing power for any mainstream application. Battery life with the standard 4-cell battery on our test unit lasted only 2.5 hours, but you can get an 8-cell battery for just $99, though it weighs half a pound more. The 710m's modular bay--rare on an ultraportable--lets you add a second hard drive or double up on batteries for an even better unplugged experience. Our test unit came with a double-layer DVD
Some quibbles: the keyboard is slightly cramped. (With practice I was able to hit the half-size question mark key and master the keystroke combinations required for paging up and down.) Plus, the docking options are meager: Dell sells only a USB port replicator that hangs off the left side of the notebook by a cable.
The icing on the cake is Dell's Media Experience, a Windows Media Center Edition knockoff with movie, DVD/CD, and photo slide-show applications. It mimics the Media Center Edition with a big blue menu, and it's easy to move through, though it lacks a remote control to take advantage of it. All that's missing is a TV feature since this notebook has no TV tuner option. The 710m is too small to have good speakers, but at least the port for the headphones is located on the front.
Dell's latest consumer ultraportable would make a nice unit for budget-constricted professionals on the go.
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