Dell Inspiron M101z 11.6in notebook
Review It's common to take a shiny new notebook out of the box, judge it to be worthy and then find that some aspect - performance, price or feel - rubs off the polish. Rare are machines like the Dell Inspiron M101z that leave you happy with your initial verdict. Well, almost...
Dell's Inspiron M101z: compact performer
The M101z is one of the small but growing breed of sub-notebooks that aim to provide netbook portability without overly compromising what you'd call a notebook spec. One of the first - and so far still the best - is Acer's Aspire 1810TZ, which I reviewed almost a year ago.
Both machines, and all the others in the class, are based around an 11.6in, 1366 x 768 display and include a standard set of features: three USB ports, VGA, Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, HDMI Port, SD card slot and no optical drive. Sometimes you get Bluetooth, but not here. Hard drives typically come in at 250, 320 or 500GB, memory 2, 3 or 4GB.
The key differentiators are design and performance. Early models mixes Intel dual-core Pentium processors and single-core Celerons, the latter delivering seemingly less horsepower than netbook Atom chips. More recently, vendors have been pulling in AMD processor and graphics technology, and both the Samsung X125 I reviewed recently and the M101z fall into this category.
Ketchup coloured, no less
Again, watch for those irritating single-core parts being slipped into lower-cost SKUs. As I found with the X125, they just don't hack it. It's nice to see the M101z has a dual-core chip - the Athlon II Neo K325 - and if it's only clocked to 1.3GHz, it still pulps the 1.7GHz CPU in the Samsung in Futuremark's PCMark Vantage benchmark suite.
Next page: Impressive inside and out
Is it a Netbook or a Notebook
Correct me if i'm wrong but I thought the term netbook described a particular form factor (under 12" with no optical drive).
I did not think it described the processor, in which case I would lobby that we start calling "netbooks": crippled-ass-Intel-Atom-processor-books
It's not like it's running an ARM processor or something - which are being called Smartbooks if I recall - but it just seems pedantic for a netbook to be a netbook *unless* it exceeds some minimum (and arbitrary?) threshhold of horsepower in which case it magically becomes a notebook.
What if some madman threw an i7 into one of these - would it then transorm into a desktop?
Well, i have just ordered one of these, with the K325 dual core CPU and the 9 cell battery.
Should be good for my uni work. I will be checking the CPU though, see if it's seated in a socket or soldered on. If it's the former, i will try to get a K625 CPU and put in it.
Currys website had a few "refurbished" 1810TZs for £370. I have one. It had faulty memory, but I was replacing it anyway to upgrade to 4GB so that wasn't an issue. I have also put an Intel X25M SSD in and it (a) flies and (b) has improved the battery life to > 8 hours.
The absolute cheapest 1810TZ that I can find is £430, for the same spec as the £430 Dell, the Acer just has an extra GB of RAM. However that place is out of stock and other prices are closer to £500 and even over that in some cases.
Re: Acer is More Expensive
Make sure you're not pricing up the 1810TZ "Special Edition" which is indeed more expensive than the Dell. But the standard versions isn't.