Dell XPS M1330 – Review and cost details

I have been wanting to write this review for a long time now. So here goes. Dell is a reputed brand worldwide. My search for a notebook was going on for a while. About a year back I happened to see the Dell XPS and kind of fell in love with it. It took me more time to go ahead and purchase one.

Let us see the pictures first:

xpsm1330 xpsm1330-sv

Image Courtesy : datori.lota.lv and trustedreviews.com respectively. Click on image to enlarge.

Specifications of my unit

  • Intel Core2Duo processor. T8100 – 2.1GHz
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 250GB Hard disk (I will come to this later)
  • Slot loading optical drive – DVD 8X burner – dual layer
  • Built in 2.0 MP webcam
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 HDMI port
  • 1 IEEE 1394 port
  • 1 Ethernet port
  • 1 VGA out port
  • 1 Express card 54 slot
  • Finger Print scanner
  • Touch sensitive media control buttons
  • Built in Wi-Fi – 802.11a/b/g
  • Shipped with external USB dial-up modem, Bluetooth stereo headset, Creative noise cancellation earphones and a multimedia remote control
  • Carry sleeve (not bag)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium

At the time of purchase the system cost me approximately Rs. 54,000/- all inclusive.

Now lets get to the review. Please note that I am expressing my views about the notebook here. It is upto you to take it or not.

It has been nearly 2 months since I am using this product and my satisfaction levels are 50-50. The unit surely attracts a lot of attention. Dell has done some good job in designing this notebook. But do not think it is a very slim machine. The rear end can be as thick as a conventional notebook. The tapering design makes people believe that it is a slim.

The unit weighs under 2 kilos. My guess is that it weighs 1.85 kilograms. The price is more or less dictated by Dell. While inspirons and vostros have a good variety of processors to choose from, XPS starts with a killer processor and therefore adds to the price. Infact I didn’t choose anything extra at all. I had the option of going in for a more powerful processor, or go for a LED backlit screen, of go for more RAM, or upgrade the hard-disk to a performance one. All this costs more money, money which I didn’t want to spend.

My original choice was a Vostro 1200 because that would have been a true portable. But somehow I chose the XPS. The day after I bought the machine over the phone, Dell released  the Vostro 1330! Something which really turned me on towards the Vostro was that it was a more rugged piece of equipment.

I will first attack the cons of this machine and then move over the the pros.

  • Poor customer support from Dell. Yes you heard me right. I made 5-6 calls to attract their attention. I wanted to tell them about some of my concerns, but they just wouldn’t get back to me. They seemed to be interested in dismissing my problems as known limitations! For instance I got this lady from Bangalore convince me (or so she believed) that the noise from the optical drive was normal and so was the shake of  the screen. Duh! 
  • Very noisy optical drive (loading and ejecting). This is one of the biggest let downs for me. Having thought that the slot loading drive is a premium feature and to realize that people stop by and ask if my laptop was ok, is a something which I do not want to discuss further 🙂
  • Heat – The unit does tend to get warm after prolonged usage and I find this extremely irritating. Being in Chennai it only adds to the misery.
  • Finger Print sensor recessed too much – I have medium sized fingers and even I find it tough to register a good print while authenticating myself. People with broad fingers would have a tough time swiping and re-swiping their fingers.
  • Wi-Fi switch is kind of loose. This again is seen on more than one machine. I don’t like the feeling but I guess it is not a deal breaker.
  • No bag supplied with the notebook. We pay 50,000 rupees and more for this and we don’t even get a carry bag with it! I agree that the notebook came with a sleeve. But that is not a practical solution.
  • Earphone jacks on the front – This is again an issue for me. If you are working with your notebook on your lap then the earphone wires tend to get in your way of typing and even sitting comfortably.
  • Display is a bit loose – Small movements can displace our LCD screen by a few inches. This is not a big issue but at times can be very irritating.
  • Hard Disk Partitioning – Dell has the option for you to choose an extra partition at the time of installation/delivery (factory installation). But this costs approximately 500 rupees more. I thought that partitioning is something which I could do by myself. I guess I was wrong. You see, every hard disk can have only 4 primary partitions. Each of these can have multiple drives allocated to them. But in case of my machine, the machine came installed with 4 partitions! The first one was for EISA recovery routines, the second one for the operating system, the third for recovery partition (ghost image) and the last one is used for media direct – Dell’s quick booting embedded OS for watching movies, seeing pictures and listening to music. This neat software can also open select office files.
  • The hard disk activity LED is on the front panel and not on the top. Every-time you want to see if your HDD is busy, you need to bend down and check it near the earphone jack ! I wonder why Dell chose this sort of an arrangement.

Now let us focus on the Pros. A lot of review sites would have already covered these. So I will keep the list brief.

  • Very good design. Sleek and functional form factor.
  • Good keyboard. No key is too small. It might take a little while to get adjusted too though.
  • Decent battery life. I have a six cell battery life. On the machine (dell) default settings I can squeeze a good 3 hours out of my machine. Please note that I do not have a graphics card installed on my system. For those who want that extra life – you can go in for a 9 cell battery which costs around 8000 rupees and also makes your system more heavy and the unit gets an additional stand off height.
  • Good display. The unit has a very good display which is bright and crisp. I chose the conventional CCFL based backlight as this allowed my camera to be a 2.0 megapixel type. If you want to shave a few millimeters off your screen, you could opt for the LED backlit display, but that would not only cost you approximately 4000 rupees more but also reduce your camera’s resolution to 0.3 megapixels (VGA Cam). But the LED backlight display will make your machine more battery efficient and reduce the weight and heat dissipation of the unit.
  • Color options available. I chose black coz it is the best. Other color options are Red and Blue.

My verdict is as follows.

Not a budget notebook, but considering the accessories, configuration and certainly the oomph factor, Dell XPS is a decent machine which gives a great balance for looks and performance.

If you are too conscious about budget and do not mind a low end processor or the extra weight, then Vostro/Inspiron from dell are good options.

Make sure you see a unit before you buy one and keep all the points which I have mentioned above in mind before ordering one.

If you have questions , do ink them on comments section and I will answer them.

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Posted by on Jun 16 2008 Filed under Computer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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