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Dell Inspiron 6400 Core 2 Duo laptop

An inspired Inspiron?

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At the heart of any good notebook is the screen and this 15.4in widescreen doesn't disappoint. Our unit uses the standard 1,280 x 800 display but with Dell's Truelife glossy finish. It was bright, sharp and vivid though in common with other similar screens reflections are evident.

Connectivity is well catered for as it must be if it's to carry the multimedia banner with any aplomb. Along the rear edge are the power connector, network and modem sockets, and a pair of USB ports. There's also a VGA port if you want to hook up an external monitor and an s-video connector if you ever fancy watching movies on a suitably equipped telly. A DVI output would have been nice but not essential given the screen quality. Embedded 802.11a/b/g wireless and Bluetooth is also part of the package.

dell_inspiron_6400_sides

Down the right-hand edge you'll find an ExpressCard slot, and a five-in-one memory card reader supporting SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro and xD Picture card. There's also headphone and microphone audio jacks, a further pair of USB ports and a four-pin FireWire connector.

All of these connectors are crammed towards the rear behind the ExpressCard slot - a little unfortunate as it all becomes rather fiddly, particularly if you have a mouse plugged in there too. I'd certainly have preferred to have at least one USB port and ideally the FireWire port mounted toward or at the front for easier access. I should point out that the ExpressCard format isn't compatible with older PC Card/PCMCIA devices, so any that you currently own will be defunct unless a worthwhile adaptor appears on the market.

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