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This isn't the first time we've looked at the Dell Studio XPS M1340; we first reviewed it way back in February when it first launched. At the time it turned out to be a frustrating nearly man. It promised a great deal and initial impressions were favourable, but niggling build quality issues and a mediocre keyboard left doubts in our minds. So, now that you can buy a version from PC World and other DSGi stores, it seems as good a time as any to see if Dell has rectified these issues.
At £899.99 the M1340 isn't going to be everyone's idea of a bargain, but for the money it does offer an impressive list of features. This includes a backlit keyboard, a free-fall protected 7,200rpm hard drive, a slot-loading DVD drive and a roster of video outputs that includes not only HDMI and VGA, but also DisplayPort. It also means a 13.3in form-factor that combines processing power and portability into one formidable package.
However, somewhat disappointingly, this retail version of the machine doesn't come with the LED backlit display. This means regular CCFL backlighting that isn't as bright and adds weight. Thus, whereas the configuration we saw in February weighed a reasonable 2.1kg, this one comes in at a heftier 2.3kg. Not a massive difference, but one you'll come to notice over time.
This disappointment is tempered when you glance at the technical specification. Running things is one of Intel's higher-spec processors; a Core 2 Duo P8600 clocked at 2.4GHz with a 1,066MHz front-side bus and 3MB L2 Cache. It's considerably faster than the Core 2 Duo T6400 seen in the likes of the HP Pavilion dv3-2055ea or Samsung Q320, while also consuming less power - just 25W versus 35W.
This is matched with 4GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 and a very fast 7,200rpm, 320GB hard drive. As noted above this drive is also free-fall protected thanks to a sensor that locks the drive heads when excessive motion is detected. Completing the roster is Bluetooth, Draft-N Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. There's also a webcam with dual microphones, not that this is anything to write home about these days.
Much more interesting is Dell's use of nVidia's 9400M integrated graphics chipset. This is the same chipset found in the Apple MacBook line and also forms the basis of nVidia's Ion platform - as found on the Acer Aspire Revo nettop. Unlike Intel's own integrated graphics solution, the 9400M can play games at moderate settings as well as accelerating compatible applications such as the video encoding tool Baddaboom or Photoshop CS4.