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Dell Inspiron M301z - Build Quality, Usability and Multimedia

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

In general the build quality of the M301z is good, with no poorly fitting panels and a typically premium feel. It's doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as the M101z, however, mainly because some of the panels flex significantly when put under strong pressure. Neither is the M301z the quietest machine, its fan often spinning up even when sat idle.

One of our favourite aspects of the M101z was its outstanding keyboard. Though the M301z doesn't quite match it, its keyboard is still very good. The layout is sensible and logical, and the keys have a decent amount of travel and precise actions.

Equally impressive is the touchpad, which is very large for a machine of this size but is perfectly positioned for typing comfort. Multi-touch support is a given, and includes two-finger scrolling for easier navigation of long documents and web pages. The two buttons offer well-defined, firm feedback.

Aside from being larger, the display on the M301z is much the same as on its smaller cousin. The 1,366 x 768 native resolution is about right for this size screen, providing ample desktop real-estate while remaining readable. In all other respects it's a solid, but unspectacular, display. Colours are rich enough, blacks deep enough, but viewing angles are a shade on the narrow side.

We assume the M301z uses the same speakers as the M101z too, though in a larger machine they don't sound quite as impressive. Nonetheless, though their maximum volume is merely average, we've heard much worse from other small portable laptops, and they produce clarity sufficient for occasional use.

gagagaga

September 9, 2010, 11:52 am

'Other features include 802.11n Wi-Fi, the fastest kind currently available'





It's nothing of the sort ... just as the LAN is a budget 10/100, this is a budget g/n card. Fastest available is are a/g/n cards with 3x3 antennae (Intel 5300/6400 etc).





These details are important to those of us running WiFI @ 5GHz to avoid the 30+ G networks in surrounding flats ...

LC437

September 9, 2010, 2:59 pm

Just to note, with your first graph for System Performance running PCMark Vantage you have listed the Dell Inspiron M101z as a comparison machine but in the text and all subsequent graphs you refer to the HP Pavilion dm3. Did something slip through the net perhaps?

PoisonJam

September 9, 2010, 3:15 pm

Bit disappointing. I had high hopes after reading your review of its sibling.





A bit unrelated but what really annoys me about today's laptops is that 15.4" laptops have the same resolution as 11.6" laptops... if you're giving us a bigger screen at least give up more desktop space. 768 pixels is just too short for me.

Andy Vandervell

September 9, 2010, 3:26 pm

@LC437: Thank you, that's been fixed.

LC437

September 9, 2010, 3:33 pm

@Andy Vandervell


You're more than welcome! Also, props to the superb and succinct review of the M101z, it ultimately lead me to replacing my rather beat-up Samsung Q320 with the Dell due to concerns about the lifespan of the Sammy if it were to be dragged to and from University every day. The M101z is a fantastic laptop which makes it a pity that Dell couldn't replicate the excellent keyboard for the M301z.

DNH

September 9, 2010, 5:32 pm

I recently saw the M301z at PC World and wasn't very impressed with the finish - seemed a bit tinny to me so I bought the HP Pavillian DM4 instead.

PoisonJam

September 10, 2010, 3:17 am

Is there a reason why some laptop reviews have a feature table but others don't? Is it just down to the reviewer?

Pepperrell

September 21, 2010, 5:16 pm

Why would you choose to buy something with a lid so flimsy that it dents while under review - see the second illustration?

InformalAlchemy

November 25, 2010, 11:30 pm

"Where the M301z does stumble, however, is battery life. While its 259 minutes (2hrs, 19mins) result..."


I make 259 minutes to be 4hrs, 19 mins?

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