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Dell XPS M1330
The continued success of Sony’s range of slim and sexy laptops has forced many manufacturers to start paying more attention to the aesthetics of their products. One such manufacturer is Dell, which recently introduced its revamped XPS product lineup in a sleek and sexy new avatar. The first machine off that lineup is the XPS M1330, and this is what we will review here.
The first thought that comes to mind on unboxing the XPS M1330 is a big WOW. Unlike the boxy models that characterized Dell's designs so far, the M1330 adopts a more streamlined and slim approach. This is really visible in the lid area of the laptop, which is a good 30 percent slimmer than in previous models. Also, unlike in earlier models, the LCD panel is on a gentle slope that flows into the keyboard area.
The finish of the laptop is another area that Dell has drastically improved upon. The M1330 has a feather-like soft plain silver finish for the area around the LCD panel and a soft silver metallic finish for the keyboard area. The lid area can be configured with a variety of colors on a soft matte finish; our test machine was a beautiful crimson red.
The hinges also have received a makeover. They are rounded, slim, and have no extra flex thanks to the sturdy material used. When you combine the weight loss, the improved lid design, and the new 'slope design', what you get is a one elegant-looking machine.
The appeal of the laptop does not end there. The XPS M1330 has been redesigned to be even more functional than previous iterations. First off, the keyboard is a full-featured one and offers excellent tactile feedback. The touchpad is a bit smaller than usual but is well-designed and, when combined with the adequately large mouse buttons, offers very good levels of working comfort.
The LCD panel needs a special mention. It has a backlit LED panel with a native resolution of 1280 x 800 and offers some of the best contrast/brightness and black levels that I've seen on any laptop. The screen really jumps out at you with a vibrancy that is difficult to describe. Though the extra brightness may irritate some, once you get used to it it’s difficult to go back to a conventional screen.
In terms of its connectivity the M1330 is a bit of an odd duck. It offers a variety of external display connectivity options including HDMI, a Firewire port, and a multi-card reader. However, it skimps on the crucial USB ports and offers just two of them. This is a real letdown. For further connectivity options please check out this link.
Apart from being stylish and sleek, the XPS M1330 is also a powerful performer. It comes with a variety of Intel C2D processors ranging from T5500 to T7500, 1 GB RAM , 160 GB HDD and more. The laptop can also be configured with a variety of graphical chipsets.
Our test machine came with top-of-the-line features: T7500 processors clocked at 2.2. GHz, 2 GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M GS chipset with 128 MB of RAM and a 250 GB HDD. One can see that apart from the graphics chipset, the rest of the specifications are pretty healthy. The 8400M chipset, despite being DX-10 compatible, is one of the lowest-end chipsets from Nvidia and is only capable of running 3D games at low to medium levels of graphical settings.
We put the XPS M1330 through the regular series of tests i.e. 3DMark06, PCMark05, and a standard battery test. The PCMark score was a very healthy 5012. This could easily have hit the 6K mark if the chipset had been the 8600 series. The 3DMark06 score was 1703, which is quite good for this chipset.
We ran some games such as WoW, Bioshock and the PC version of Gears of War, and found them to be quite playable at medium settings. The only game that completely tanked the laptop was Crysis… whose basic requirements require many times the power of this laptop.
In the battery life test the laptop was a revelation. Using the 9-cell battery we were able to attain consistent figures of over 5½ hours and, in one instance, with just plain document usage it touched 6 hours. However, this can vary. When we put it through the grinder, the battery life dropped to barely 4 hours and 45 minutes, but this is still better than what most laptops are capable of.
The XPS M1330 is a complete package. It has sleek and stylish looks, an amazing LCD panel, great performance, and unbelievable battery life. At its price (starting at Rs 53,000) there are not many laptops that can match this machine. Strongly recommended.