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Alienware Area-51 m9750 - Alienware Area-51 m9750
There's a substantial clip holding down the lid, which once dealt with lifts up to reveal a magnificent 17in, 1,920 x 1,200 display. The bezel has a shiny finish to it and is adorned with the Alienware logo. There's also a adjustable 1.3 megapixel webcam at the top.
The 1,920 x 1,200 resolution is really something, giving plenty of desktop real estate and making this a real contender as a desktop replacement. A possibly downside is that squeezed into a 17in display text at normal sizes can be quite small, so you may have to zoom up at times. But let's face it, this is a notebook aimed at entertainment, not shopping lists or boring spreadsheets, though it will of course be pretty good for those as well. In pure quality terms the screen is good. It's averagely bright but perfectly sharp, and its 'Clearview' coating gives it a high gloss sheen, effectively boosting colour and contrast. It also boosts reflections too though, and if you're working in front of it for extended periods in a brightly lit environment, say the TrustedReviews office, then it could prove distracting. If you're locked into a dark secluded gaming dungeon however, this screen will be right in its element.
As you might expect, beneath the screen you'll find the keyboard. In an elegant touch I liked the way the area containing the hinges for the screen curve upwards. Beneath this you'll find shortcut keys for the usual suspects such as your web browser, your mail program and your media player. There's also a TV button, which makes sense as there's an integrated TV tuner to make the most of Vista's built-in Media Center software. Above these there's a row of blue backlight indicators for wireless, charging, hard disk activity and if the mouse pad is active, as well as scroll and number lock. Of course the power button of the right of this has a cool blue light too.
You get a pretty much full size keyboard with a number pad too. It does mean that when you’re sitting in front of it you're shifted slightly over to the side, but it's not as bad as some I've used. You get a full size Backspace, Right-Shift and Return key, and arrow keys underneath, but the Home, Page Up/Down and End keys are also located on the arrow keys and you have to use the Function key to get to them. The keys have a good feel to them but I did want a touch more travel to them - not a deal breaker though. The touch pad is a large oblong affair, to match the aspect ratio of the screen, and there's a scroll area on the right of it.
At the front edge of the notebook you'll find the optical drive - an 8-speed dual-layer DVD burner. On either side you'll find the speakers, which are well placed to project audio into the room. Volume level was pretty decent and would suffice for gaming or watching movies.