capsule review

Dell Inspiron E1705

At a Glance
  • Dell Inspiron E1705

    PCWorld Rating

Dell Inspiron E1705
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

Dell's first dual-core offering is both a workhorse and a multimedia star. It isn't cheap--our review unit cost $2949 as of March 27, 2006--but no other notebook in its class does a better job of providing instant entertainment on a 17-inch screen.

Equipped with a 2-GHz Core Duo T2500 processor and 1GB of RAM, the Inspiron E1705 earned a superior WorldBench 5 score of 97. To help you make the best use of your down time, the new E line (which includes the E1505, with a 15.4-inch wide screen) features Dell's one-touch MediaDirect button. With the notebook off and without starting Windows, you can press the button once to watch a DVD movie or to access videos, music, or photo slide shows stored on the hard drive, an optical drive, or a USB key or memory card placed in the five-in-one media reader. The only option that the E1705 lacks is instant-on live TV. To watch TV, you first have to launch the Windows Media Center Edition operating system.

At the time I looked at the E1705, it had the best graphics card Dell offered--a top-notch nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GS with 256MB of VRAM--and it showed in our gaming tests. (A new flagship gaming notebook alternative, the Inspiron m1710, should be available in April with an nVidia GeForce Go 7900 GTX card.) The E1705 finished first in all but one of our game tests, with results such as 98 frames per second in Doom 3 at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color, with antialiasing turned off.

The E1705 will turn heads with its cream-colored trim and bright blue LEDs. At 8.2 pounds and with a 3-hour battery life (using the $79 nine-cell battery), it's a friendly travel partner.

The E1705 can be configured with up to 100GB of storage, and it comes with a whopping six USB ports, along with a cutting-edge ExpressCard slot and a DVI-D port for the latest flat-panel screens. This port isn't compatible with analog monitor adapters, but the unit includes a legacy VGA-out port as well. My one complaint about the design is that the DVD burner's eject button is flush with the case and hard to locate by touch.

It's something of a pain to keep track of Dell's external TV tuner, a USB unit slightly larger than a pack of playing cards. But because it's external, you can save a bit of travel weight by leaving it behind.

For people who plan on using an E line portable to replace a desktop, Dell sells Kensington USB 2.0 docking stations customized for Dell notebooks. A simple port replicator costs $79 and a better one including screen stand is $129.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This solid-performing multimedia entertainment notebook turned in some of the best mobile graphics results we've seen.

    Pros

    • Excellent graphics performance

    Cons

    • Big and heavy
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