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General build quality feels solid and there are no port covers or clips that feel like they could snap off if handled a too roughly, which again iterates the fact that Dell is targeting the Inspiron 510m towards the business user.
At 2.6kg it’s hardly a lightweight notebook, but to be fair there are far heavier notebooks out there. The Inspiron 510m measures 333.4 x 273 x 32.8mm (WxDxH) which is quite chunky, but the screen size is a fair size.
There is however one major drawback with the Inspiron 510m and that’s the disappointing battery life of two hours and 28 minutes. Even though this is within Dell’s stated battery life I feel that it’s just not good enough for a laptop targeted towards the lower end of the business market. It is down to the small battery that Dell supplies but there is an optional more powerful alternative available as well as an optional secondary battery that can be swapped with the optical drive. The larger battery should, according to Dell add two hours to the battery life, which is more in the line with what I was expecting to see from the Inspiron 510m.
Dell has recently changed its chargers to a proprietary model in terms of the power cable, which means that it comes with a three prong connector. This is going to cause trouble for anyone travelling a lot or even if the power cable gets damaged, since you would have to get a replacement cable from Dell and Dell only.
General application performance is as expected, but 256MB of memory takes it toll here and doesn't show this machine off in its best light. An overall SYSmark 2002 rating of 144 is far from impressive, especially from a 1.7GHz Pentium M processor. Since the review unit was sent to us, Dell has realised that more system memory was needed and is shipping the Inspiron 510m with 512MB of memory at no extra charge. This should improve the performance quite a lot, but I can’t say by how much since I didn’t have an additional stick of memory to test with. If time permits we will run the tests again with a new unit to give you an idea of the performance gain with more memory.
The only software supplied worth mentioning is a copy of Microsoft Works 7.0, it's not as fully featured as MS Office, but it is at least something to get you started with. The standard warranty on the Inspiron 510m is one year collect and return.
The asking price is not extortionate at £ 1,172.65 including delivery, but it’s not outstanding either. The inclusion of 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth does add a lot to the value and even though the Inspiron 510m isn’t the perfect laptop it still offers plenty of useful features.
The Inspiron 510m is a mixed bag in terms of features, performance and battery life, as it comes with plenty of useful features, average performance (although the extra 256MB of memory should help solve this) and fairly poor battery life. The price is good and as with most Dell laptops it is a well built, solid machine.
To order the Dell Inspiron 510m please enter the follow E-Value code at Dell’s UK website 200-I12REV