Dell Inspiron 700m

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Dell Inspiron 700m

Pros

  • Very good screen resolution, impressive speed, sturdy design, easily accessible for upgrades

Cons

  • DVD eject hard to press, 2.75 hour battery

Bottom Line

A strong, lightweight laptop, the Dell Inspiron 700m has a neat wide-aspect screen. All that mars the notebook is a slightly cramped keyboard, an annoying optical drive button and a short battery life.

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A wide-aspect screen and very good performance are highlights of Dell's 1.9kg Inspiron 700m laptop. The screen is small, measuring just 12.1" diagonally, but its wide-aspect ratio and dense native resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels let you see more of your work. Those attributes also make the 700m a pretty good portable DVD player, too, by showing images full screen with no black letterbox bars. The speakers are no great shakes, but the headphone port is located handily on the front.

The 700m's speed was impressive for an ultraportable. The 1.8GHz Pentium M 745-equipped unit earned a WorldBench 5 score of 80, which puts it on a par with other notebooks using the Pentium M 745.

The 700m is well-equipped overall. A DVD burner comes built in. Extras include an S-Video output port for using a TV as an external monitor; a FireWire port for downloading video from a camcorder; and an SD flash memory card slot. It would have been nice, however, to have an external Wi-Fi switch for the integrated wireless network capabilities.

Thanks to an unusually thick case for an ultraportable, the 700m balances well on the lap. We liked the feel of typing on the 700m's keyboard, but it wasn't perfect. The half-size punctuation keys are hard to locate with your fingers, and paging up or down requires combination keystrokes. On the plus side, the firm-feeling keyboard is well laid out and includes a large, easy-to-navigate touchpad. Most touch typists should be able to overcome the flaws.

Want to keep your upgrade options open? You can with the 700m, thanks to an accessible memory slot and hard drive. You can reach either simply by removing a bottom protective panel held in place by a few screws. (The second memory slot, under the keyboard, can't be reached.) Our only serious complaint about the design is that the DVD drive's eject button is hard to press.

The rear-mounted, four-cell battery lasted only 2.75 hours in our tests. If you don't mind adding a little to the weight of the laptop, you can upgrade to a longer-lasting eight-cell replacement battery that serves up an additional 5 hours, according to Dell.

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