Decked out in "Arctic Silver" with "Alpine White" accents, the Inspiron 6400 combines subtle curves with slab-like angles to create a distinctive look that may not be to everyone's taste. The chassis measures 35.6 x 26.6 x 3.7cm and tips the scales at a moderately beefy 2.8kg. Not the most portable of machines but the build quality appears to be excellent - a fair trade-off, some might say.
You can't alter the design but the use of a replaceable QuickSnap cover on the lid offers a degree of customisation. There are apparently eight alternatives, including Natural Leather, Cherry Burlwood, Carbon Fibre and Mediterranean Blue.
Proof of the Inspiron's multimedia aspirations is the array of seven external play control buttons lined up across the front face, all fully accessible with the lid closed. These are flanked on either side by a pair of what must be the loudest stereo speakers I've heard from a notebook. Small presentations with sound are now feasible without the burden of carrying amplified external speakers. And, like the control buttons, the speakers are unobstructed when the lid is closed.
Lifting the lid reveals a full 88-key keyboard that feels good under finger. It's possibly a little stiff for some but it'll probably free-up nicely after regular use. A smattering of multifunction keys gives quick access to oft-used functions like screen brightness, mute, battery state, Wi-Fi toggling and more. Key layout is sensible, although the whole board is shifted a little too far to the rear for my taste.
However, as a result the two buttons below the touchpad are nice and large, an asset spoilt by their vague and spongy operation. The touchpad itself is also large and has dedicated horizontal and vertical scroll areas along the lower and right-hand edges.
Dell Inspiron 9400 fares similarly
I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 with Core2Duo T7400 processors, 17" WUXGA screen. 2GB of memory, and a 100 GB SATA 7200 RPM disk. I concur with your assessment. The 9400 does come with a DVI connector on it.
I don't like the Bluetooth implementation in conjunction with the Logitech mouse. I find its performance spotty.
I have used CPUz and another benchmark to compare this performance to my Dell XPS Generation 3 with Pentium 3.6GHz HT processor. Other than the RAID disk performance, the laptop literally womps the desktop.
Your comment about the extra Dell software is right on target. I stripped off as much as I could and still could not tolerate the performance. After one week, I blew away the laptop and rebuilt it from the Dell media -- way better!
New laptops causing headaches
Interesting that the specs (other than the screen size) are similiar to the new Philips X56 which I have recently purchased.
Alas it came with the new Express Card so my T-Mobile data card is now redundant, however the author may not be aware that there is an adapter which runs PC cards via USB. Sadly its the size of a brick and costs £130.
Interesting also that you raised the point about Dells desire to load the PC with software. When im called out on an Installation, the 3 ISPs, Dells network diags and Google Search are removed, and Mcafee changed to stop harrassing the end user for network passwords. Only then does the PC feel quick.!!