Our Score


User Score


  • Ultraportable
  • Attractive design
  • Relatively powerful
  • Excellent keyboard
  • HD Ready screen


  • Battery life not class-leading

Review Price £498.99

Key Features: Dual-core AMD Athlon II Neo CPU; 11.6in, 1,366 x 768 screen; Highly customizable; Up to 8GB of RAM; Weighs just 1.56kg

Manufacturer: Dell

Not to be confused with netbooks, 11.6-inch laptops offer up a tantalising balance between performance, portability and affordability. They are, in effect, the perfect upgrade from a netbook, and the best alternative for those who understandably feel a netbook doesn't meet their needs. An excellent example of the breed is the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ, but the recently released Dell Inspiron M101z offers up stiff competition.

Where design is concerned, the Inspiron M101z definitely has the edge. Its basic design is very smart, as the dark grey body and black screen bezel complement each other nicely. Added to this are Dell's colourful options, which include the 'Lotus Pink' version we have and blue and red options. Fortunately only the pink version has the floral pattern to its lid and body, though at £19 extra over the standard black livery the coloured options are far from essential.

Another important difference between the Dell and Acer's offering is the use of one of AMD's Athlon II Neo processors, which were used to good effect in both the Acer Ferrari One and the HP Pavilion dm3. In the M101z you get the K325 chip, which has two cores running at 1.3GHz and with 1MB cache to share between them. Graphics are supplied by an integrated ATI Mobility Radeon HD4225, and there's 4GB of RAM and a fast 7,200rpm, 320GB hard drive in support.

Though our model came with Bluetooth 2.1, according to Dell's UK website new models are now shipping with Bluetooth 3.0. This is a nice bonus, and 802.11n Wi-Fi is included as well. You only get 10/100 Fast Ethernet for wired networking, but this isn’t the kind of machine that will spend much time tethered to a wall socket.

There are two reasons for this: one is its size, as the M101z measures just 292mm across and weighs 1.56kg; the other is the presence of a six-cell, 56 Watt-hour battery that when combined with the low-voltage processor ought to ensure good battery life. Also aiding portability is the relatively small and light power supply, which weighs just over 300g including the socket and cables. All-in-all, carrying the M101z around shouldn't prove too great a burden.

Also encouraging is the excellent build quality. All the plastics used in its chassis are of an excellent quality, and there's a general sense of sturdiness to panel fittings and the action on the hinge. Like the aesthetic design, the M101z definitely has an edge over the Acer in this department, particularly as Acer has a patchy reputation where build quality is concerned.

For those with one eye on the future, Dell's warranty offering is also extremely attractive. Unlike many competitors, Acer included, Dell's warranty is collect and return (as opposed to Carry-in, where you're responsible for sending your product for repair) as standard, and upgrades to the standard one year package cost just £19 and £29 for two and three years respectively. It seems a trivial issue at point of purchase, but you'll appreciate it further down the line.

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August 19, 2010, 7:28 pm

Just looked at the Dell site and it doesn't appear to come with the graphics card on the one you've reviewed. All 3 spec options have the 'AMD Integrated ATI RS880M Graphics'.

Andy Vandervell

August 19, 2010, 7:57 pm

That's a mistake on Dell's part I believe. That's the name of the chipset that has the HD 4225 graphics integrated onto it. It's listed in the Device Manager on the M101z as ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225.


August 19, 2010, 10:03 pm

I recently purchased a Dell 11z with their infamous single multi-touch "ELAN" touchpad. I think it works brilliantly, but due to negative reaction, it's been removed from future models. What it allows you to do is multi-gestures with up to 3 fingers. For instance a 3 finger swipe takes you "back" in a webpage or explorer windows. Covering the pad with your palm minimises or maximises all windows, whilst 2 finger scroll either min/maximises or scrolls the page.

It's a pity this isn't on their newer laptops, but hopefully they introduce a better version of the pad by the time I upgrade.

Plus, it seems common sense to me, but why don't they put the laptop buttons on TOP of the touchpad? This might actually make the touchpad easier to use, and particularly in games since it's natural for our fingers to click above the touchpad


August 20, 2010, 3:25 am

But what happened to Della? Is the pink one for her?


August 21, 2010, 5:16 pm

No gigabit ethernet ?

Doc. Caliban

October 16, 2010, 4:24 am

Cliche, I agree... not having gigabit ethernet these days is like getting a non FAX-capable modem in 1998.


December 10, 2010, 3:40 am

I really don't understand which plant these laptop designers live on. Why they keep using the glossy screens? If they can't hear the users' complaint, surely they see the reviewers': "Regrettably it does have a glossy, reflective finish...". Will the reviewers have to keep apologising for the designers for otherwise excellent machines?!


December 16, 2010, 3:07 pm

Anyone know if the £50 9 cell battery upgrade is worth it? Battery life is important to me but if it adds too much extra bulk (in terms of size and weight) then I wont bother.

And if anyone does have it how much life does it add? :)


December 28, 2010, 10:23 am

They could easily squeeze a 12" screen or even 13" screen in to the frame. I wish laptop manufacturers would learn to utilise the maximum area available. Also, why don't they offer a Momentus XT upgrade option?

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