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Dell XPS M1210

At a Glance
  • Dell XPS M1210

    PCWorld Rating

    A decked-out ultraportable, the XPS M1210 packs in the features and offers good battery life.

Packed with the latest mobile technology and Intel's latest processor, the Core 2 Duo, the XPS M1210 is Dell's latest ultraportable entertainment notebook--and a good choice for anyone who needs to work on the go.

Our test unit, equipped with a 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 SDRAM, produced a WorldBench 5 score of 102, a result that's 5 percent better than the mark of 97 earned by the average XP Media Center Edition notebook with the same-speed equivalent of the previous-generation Core Duo CPU. And our test machine's solid battery life should give you ample time to spend an afternoon telecommuting at the local coffee shop or watching an in-flight DVD: The M1210 lasted 4 hours, 23 minutes on a nine-cell battery.

Dell calls the top-of-the-line configuration that we tested the "Mobile Media Guru." In addition to a 120GB 5400-rpm hard drive and a double-layer DVD burner, it offer bonus A/V features: an integrated 1.3-megapixel swivel Webcam with dedicated shutter button and directional microphone, one pair of noise-isolation earbuds, Skype VOIP videoconferencing software, and a built-in mobile-broadband antenna. (To make use of the antenna, you'll have to dole out another $179 for an integrated broadband card and, of course, pay a hefty monthly subscription to Cingular or Verizon for service.) Our $1909 price (as of 9/8/06) also included Bluetooth short-range wireless communications and a dedicated nVidia GeForce Go 7400 video card with 256MB of memory.

The M1210's design helps it stand out from other small notebooks. The 5-pound unit has a bright, 12.1-inch wide-aspect screen and a full-size keyboard, plus a touchpad with a scroll zone and big, cushy mouse buttons. The external battery gauge, which lets you see how much power you have left without having to turn on the notebook, is one of many thoughtful conveniences.

Movies and media are just one touch away via the keyboard's MediaDirect button, which launches a menu for playing DVDs, MP3s, and photo slide shows without first starting Windows. To control volume and tracks, you have your choice of using the mouse or seven media buttons located on the front of the notebook. The speakers are nothing to write home about, but dual headphone jacks let two people at once enjoy good stereo sound in private. A $101 USB TV tuner and $29 remote control are optional.

The notebook's full complement of connections includes four USB ports, a FireWire port, and a three-in-one memory card slot tucked beneath the optical drive--an unusual but adequately convenient spot. One of the notebook's coolest features, the Wi-Fi Catcher switch with LED, lets you search for a wireless signal--Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or WWAN--before turning on the unit, saving time and battery life.

Storage and memory are both user upgradable, with the hard drive and one of the DIMM slots located in separate bottom compartments. The second memory slot is harder to reach than most that are located beneath the keyboard; its location requires disconnecting the cable and a few other extra steps, but the process is doable. The only other small design faux pas is the ExpressCard slot's old-fashioned eject stick. Like most, it is maddeningly difficult to store.

As one of Dell's "luxury" consumer notebooks, the M1210 comes with a rare full printed user manual, which is thick with attractive illustrations. Microsoft Works 8 rounds out the offering.

With its bevy of entertainment features and bonuses, the lightweight Dell XPS M1210 will keep you both entertained and productive when on the road.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A decked-out ultraportable, the XPS M1210 packs in the features and offers good battery life.

    Pros

    • Includes a Webcam
    • Ports are conveniently laid out

    Cons

    • Subpar sound
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