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Dell whips up sub-$1200 Centrino notebooks

Rose-tinted spec.

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Dell today announced two budget Centrino-based notebooks, the Inspiron 500m and Latitude D500, both bringing Intel's mobile technology to market for less than $1200.

Dell's actually cheating a little with the Inspiron. Yes, the machine is based on Intel's Pentium M processor, but wireless connectivity isn't standard. Since that's a key part of the Centrino platform, we'd question Dell's right to call the machine a Centrino computer, but that's for Intel's lawyers to decide, not us.

So, the Intel Pro/Wireless 2100 card is a $49 optional extra with the 500m. Users can upgrade to Dell TrueMobile 802.11b/g and 802.11a/b/g cards for $69 or $89, respectively. Bluetooth is $49 extra.

Still $1248 for a wireless-equipped 500n is still a pretty good price - comparable specs. from other vendors we looked at typically come in at a few hundred bucks more than that. Then again, they often have better graphics chips than the 500n's integrated Intel Extreme part which uses part of the main 128MB DDR memory bank.

The 500n is based on a 1.3GHz Pentium M, 14.1in XGA display, CD-ROM, 20GB hard drive, internal modem and 10/100Mbps Ethernet. Up the spec. to a 30GB hard drive, wireless card and DVD/CD-RW combo drive, and the price rises to a more comparable $1629.

The D500 ships with the Intel Pro/Wireless 2100 card as standard, but the other wireless options are available as extras. It ships with a base 20GB hard drive, 128MB of DDR SDRAM (again, it's shared with the Extreme graphics system), 14.1in XGA LCD and 24x CD-ROM. There are two USB 2.0 ports, one S-Video out port and one PC Card slot. It ships with an internal modem and 10/100Mbps Ethernet. ®

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