The well-built Sentia m3400 from Alienware has some get-up and go for its size, but falls to its knees on price. The keyboard and touchpad were comfortable and responsive, and the chassis was sturdy without being too heavy (2.5kgs without power supply). The 14in screen was clearly viewable from most obtuse angles and was housed in a strong upper bezel that had little flexibility for structural integrity. Naturally, it comes emblazoned with design features indicative to Alienware.
With a 2.0GHz Intel M CPU and 1GB of 533MHz RAM onboard, it achieved a good score (86) in our PC WorldBench 5 tests, comparable to some of the Intel Core Duo machines we tested recently. Battery tests using MobileMark 2002 lasted two hours and eight minutes, while our worst-case scenario test (playing back a DVD) lasted one hour and thirty minutes. For the size of the screen and components onboard, this wasn't bad but could have been better (though our test model had problems fully charging the battery).
In 3DMark 2001 SE it only yielded a score of 5185, which gears it towards low-end games only. However, it does come with a 4-in-1 media card reader and good connectivity options including Wi-Fi a/b/g and FireWire. Combine this with the evenly balanced results from all departments of our tests and you're looking at a good all-round notebook. It also comes equipped with several video out options and includes a 1.3 megapixel webcam built into the top of the screen.
Verdict: While this notebook is strong and performs well, price is its biggest throwback. Xenomorphic design is hard to justify for a marked price increase when you can put that money towards greater performance.
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Specifications: Intel M 760 (2.0GHz) CPU, Intel GMA 900 Extreme Graphics, 1GB DDR2 533MHz RAM, 14in screen, 60GB 7200rpm ATA100, 8 x Dual Layer DVD+/-RW / 24x CD-RW Combo drive, 4 x USB 2.0, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi a/b/g, 4-in-1 Memory card reader (SD/MS/MS-Pro/MMC), 1.3 megapixel webcam, 56K modem, VGA and S-Video out, 5.1 SPDIF out, 2.5kg without PSU.