Tag: Dell

Alienware M11x (Dell) Ultra Compact Laptop Review

Posted by – June 7, 2011

It’s a tiny laptop with an 11.6 inch screen, ultra low power CPU, and a monster Nvidia graphics card. It has 4gb of ram (DDR3), a 500gb hard drive (7200rpm, Seagate), and no optical drive. It’s got cool colours too, like a light up alien on the back of the monitor, a glowing alienware logo, an alien head power button, a glowing keyboard and bright glowing speaker holes at the front of the laptop.

The keyboard is almost exactly the same size as a full size laptop but touch typing is a little more difficult at the keys are flatter than normal and the gap in-between the keys doesn’t seem as large.

Dell Alienware M11x

Alienware M11x - Reflective Screen

It’s got one of those gloss reflective screens – and it’s MASSIVELY reflective. If you are running on the battery then the default brightness is so low you only see yourself staring back at you, and you have to turn the brightness up. It seems much more reflective (read: worse) than the gloss screen on the Samsung Q430 that I recently had. The blacks aren’t very black, there seems to be a lot of “backlight bleed” with the whole screen looking mostly grey. The default black wallpaper doesn’t give a good first impression of the screen – as all you can see is yourself in the reflection. (If I wanted to see myself I would have bought a mirror!)

Also it’s LOUD – after running the Windows Experience index two times, the fan in the laptop stayed on for a long time … and has not yet shut up, despite CPU usage hovering around 10% while I’m typing this. You can overclock the processor in the Dell BIOS – the options are Overclock : Enable, and Disable (which is the default).

Alienware Lights

Alienware Lights

The speakers built into the laptop seem very good. 50% volume is too loud for close use. The volume of iPlayer for example can easily be set to be louder than the volume of the fan, however it’s not very silent – and doesn’t tend to stay silent when watching.

The default speed is 1.3ghz, you can overclock the laptop in the BIOS, see here, for the scores and much more information about the laptop. Boosts CPU / RAM score from 4.1 / 4.8 to 4.6 / 5.4. GFX for both desktop and 3D is 6.5 and disk score 5.9. I think you can even turn down the performance of the GFX – perhaps this would make the laptop quieter?

Windows Experience Scores: M11x: CPU: 4.1 RAM: 4.8 GFX: 6.4 3D GFX: 6.4  HDD: 5.9 (Nvidia, CPU 1.3ghz)
Windows Experience Scores: Q430: CPU: 6.3 RAM: 5.9 GFX:4.9 3D GFX: 5.9 HDD: 5.9
Windows Experience Scores: 1510:  CPU: 4.8 RAM: 4.8 GFX: 3.5 3D GFX: 3.5  HDD: 5.1
Windows Experience Scores: R500:  CPU: 2.8 RAM: 4.2 GFX: 2.2 3D GFX: 3.0 HDD: 5.1

Yes – you can switch between graphics cards the NVidia GeForce graphics, or the “discrete” built in graphics – using FN + F6 – the built in graphics being “Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset” / “Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD” with 64mb dedicated memory.

GeForce GT 335M – dedicated video memory 1024mb – switching between the modes is quite quick although if the graphics processor is in use, it asks you to close the program before it will switch. There is a slight degradation of image quality when switching to the Intel graphics – and it’s noticeable on the external display more than the internal laptop screen (Seiko / Epson Laptop Display) – for example on an external 22inch screen. The text isn’t as crisp, but the display is quite stable.

Using the Intel graphics seems to keep the laptop quiet(er). Watching iplayer even – (the laptop CPU usage averages around 29%) – the laptop settles down to a nice quiet purr. There is still a fan running, but it’s nice to see that there’s a quiet mode as well.

More on the screen – it’s very fingerprint prone – so not only is it super reflective, you also need to make sure you don’t touch it. It also has a large border and dare I say it, it looks kind of 90s – like Star Trek The Next Generation – trying to be futuristic but in reality looking kind of dated. (More to be added…)

Pros:
+ Good value for money now that Dell are offering it for £498
+ Switchable between Intel gfx (quiet, low power), or Nvidia (loud, good for games)
+ Overclock friendly – need more speed, switch it on in the BIOS
+ Built in SIM card slot! (Firewire, PATA)
+ Metal bottom to laptop, alienware fabric sleeve
+ Excellent battery life

Cons:
– Can be really loud when using Nvidia graphics
– Not entirely convinced by the keyboard (yet)
– Reflective gloss screen (although it’s less reflective with a brighter wallpaper)
– SD / Memory cards stick out when in the reader
– Keyboard marks the screen when the laptop is closed

App Reviews: Dell Streak

Posted by – August 22, 2010

Having used the Streak for a while now I wanted to review of some of the more interesting applications it uses.

First up, Google Earth.  A couple of technical details. This requires Android 2.0 or better, and I had to find the .APK file online and install it manually as it seems to be available for Nexus One only in the UK Android Market. Quite why Google are dithering with this I don’t know, but it’s easy enough to find anyway. I always found it odd that this was out for iPhone pretty quick but was difficult to obtain for Google’s own mobile OS. The beauty of Android is that tinkering is allowed and easy. Beats the hell out of Apple’s NONE SHALL PASS approach. When installing from a non-market source you will need to enable external application installs in the applications settings menu.

It opens pretty quickly, under five seconds. When it loads you see the familiar splash screen followed by the blue marble hanging in space. This is the first time I have run Google Earth on any Android device, and only the second mobile device after iPhone 3G. The animation and frame rate is smooth and does not lag at all. GPS allows you locate yourself and zooming is about as smooth and sharp as your data connection will allow. Strangely my 3G is far faster than my home WiFi so it’s pretty laggy when zooming in on my home broadband. Obviously that’s not Google’s fault. I just have a rubbish router.

Video demo:

Forgive me for searching ‘London’ when I was already there – duh. You can see it is pretty slick. You’ll notice I accidentally pressed a couple of photos. That isn’t n issue, I’m just holding a camera whilst using it so I slipped up. You can see that pinch, double tap etc all work very well.There doesn’t seem to be any way to mess with it,  import GPS tracks, KML files etc, but all the usual layers are available so you can, for example, view geotagged Panoramio photos.

Google Earth works very well, and it is crying out for users to do things with it now. Let’s see what happens eh?

Dell Streak Review (Phones)

Posted by – August 21, 2010

I’ve had the Dell Streak for a couple of weeks now so the review is not an unboxing.

Here is how it looks:

I’ve read a lot about the Streak online and it tends to be the same everywhere. Those who’ve never seen it don’t get it, those who see it like it, those who own it are always being asked about it.

For a phone it’s big, almost comedy size, but despite the ability to make calls on it the Streak is sold as a tablet. The interface is set up in landscape mode and you can buy a data-only tariff.  I bought it  outright and got a 30 day rolling data contract. Other options are available, including 18/24 month deals or SIM free from Dell. Keep reading below…

More…

Dell Vostro 1510 Laptop Review (Laptops)

Posted by – March 26, 2009

 

The Vostro 1510 from Dell.com/uk – £316 including VAT and Postage (with £50 off, plus a further 10% off). It’s very dark in colour, and not very shiney from this angle. After the faulty advent I think I’ve finally got a bargain of a laptop to replace the Inspiron 1300.

The laptop scores well in Vista, although is let down slightly by the graphics, and 3D graphics scores. Aero is supported, but scores would be higher if a dedicated graphics card was chosen. The Vista experience scores are: CPU: 4.8, RAM: 4.8, GFX: 3.5, 3D GFX: 3.5, HD: 5.1 – giving an overall score of 3.5.

The Dell Vostro 1510 features a 1.8ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD (WD), Vista Home Premium, DVDRW (slot loading TEAC), 15.4″ widescreen, SD/MMC/MS/Pro memory card reader, 4 USB ports, WIFI (plus physical on/off switch), Firewire, a shiney sparkly black lid, a catchless closing mechanism (magnets? weighted shut?), a nice blue circuit board with easy access to the CPU and memory.

Some pros and cons, starting with the pros:
+ EXCELLENT price!
+ Good screen, clear, bright
+ Good sound (quite loud for a budget laptop)
+ Little installed software (Google gadgets, toolbar easily removed)
+ Very easy to access memory, CPU etc
+ Quiet – very little fan noise (as far as I can tell)
+ Plays Spore

Negatives:
– \backslash key is next to the forward slash key on the right!
– Mouse buttons are too deep – it’s like pressing a key (I prefer a firmer click)
– Drivers out of date according to Windows update.
– lacks a scroll wheel (some games require this)

originally posted Sep 2008 (on another site)