The Inspiron 510m differs somewhat to Dell's normal Inspiron range in that it’s targeted at the small business user market, without being one of Dell’s fully fledged business notebooks. In terms of design and features it’s very similar to the Inspiron 5000 range, but with some key changes.
The use of integrated graphics is the most noticeable change, but since it is deemed that business users don't play games, this should not be an issue for the intended market. More important is the inclusion of triple band 802.11 WiFi networking that allows you to connect to 802.11a/b/g networks.
This means that with the Inspiron 510m you can connect to pretty much any wireless network world wide, making it an ideal travelling companion for the mobile user. But Dell hasn’t stopped there as the Inspirion 510m also comes with built-in Bluetooth as standard, so as long as you have a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone you should always be able to get to your email no matter where you are.
Although the Inspiron 510m features an Intel Pentium M processor clocked at 1.7GHz, it doesn’t carry the Centrino badge due to the fact that the wireless chipset is from Broadcom and not Intel. It is a shame that Dell decided to fit a mere 256MB of PC2100 DDR SDRAM to the Inspiron 510m, but this can be upgraded at time of purchase. Then again it would be cheaper to upgrade it later from a third party company such as Crucial, but you’d be using up two SODIM slots that way. A sizeable 60GB hard drive should be plenty and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive is fitted for backups.
It's not always possible to connect wirelessly and Dell has catered for this by including a wired 10/100Mbit Ethernet adapter as well as a built in 56k V.90 modem. Other connection options include two USB 2.0 ports, a single four-pin FireWire port, a serial and parallel port, a D-SUB and an S-Video output. There is also a single Type II PC Card slot, an IrDA port as well as headphone and mic sockets. Normally laptop speakers are tinny and uninspiring, but Dell has fitted unusually good speakers that even have a bit of bass oomph to them. So listening to music while you work without headphones is actually a viable option.
The 1,400 x 1,050 resolution is common on many laptops with 15in displays but Dell has, as always supplied a very good unit. As mentioned the integrated graphics solution is not ideal for 3D applications, but it works fine in Windows and for DVD playback. The integrated Intel Extreme graphics 2 shares up to 64MB of system memory, which does have an effect on system performance if too much memory is allocated for graphics use.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on with large keys and good travel, but it is a little bouncy. Dell has got the layout right with the Ctrl key on the left hand side in the right location and a full size return key. The touchpad does the job and it doesn't have any fancy shape to it, which I prefer.