Dell beefs up media capabilities of Inspiron notebooks

Dell Inc. launched the Inspiron 8600 in the U.S. Thursday, improving the multimedia capabilities of its major consumer notebook line.

The new notebook, which was released in Australia and Europe on 18 August, comes with a 15.4-inch display, good for watching DVDs or Internet media content, and several choices of graphics processors from both ATI Technologies and Nvidia.

Despite the focus on delivering multimedia technology, Dell declined to make the Inspiron 8600 its first Windows XP Media Center Edition product. The Round Rock, Texas, company continues to evaluate that operating system, a spokesman said. The notebook ships with Windows XP Home, a simpler version that lacks multimedia enhancements found in XP Media Center and advanced security and performance features found in XP Professional.

Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition has been released on several desktops since it was announced last November, but only Toshiba has brought a Media Center notebook to market. The operating system allows users to control their PC as if it was a television, accessing media files from the PC's hard drive with a remote control and playing them back on either the PC's display or a digital television.

The base configuration of the Inspiron 8600 comes with ATI's Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics card with 32M bytes of video memory, but users can upgrade to a GeForce FX Go5650 graphics card from Nvidia with 128M bytes of video memory.

Intel's Pentium M processor improves the battery life of the new Inspiron over the older Inspiron 8500, which used a Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processor. The Pentium M, introduced in March, has demonstrated longer battery life and increased performance over the older Mobile Intel Pentium 4-M processors in several reviews.

Prices for the notebook start from AUD$3,499, featuring a 1.5GHz Pentium M, 512M bytes of PC2700 (333MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 40G-byte hard drive, the ATI graphics card, and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive.

The notebook is also available with a choice of the 1.6GHz of 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, and a 60GB or 80GB hard drive.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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