The keyboard is excellent and feels very tactile to type on and you’ll find most of the keys where you would expect them to be. Dell has also added the luxury of both a trackpoint and a touchpad. There is one issue here though, the selector buttons that belong to the trackpoint need to be depressed very hard and the way they are situated makes this awkward to do. The buttons belonging to the touchpad however do not suffer from this problem, but you might find the touchpad a tad erratic at times as it is very sensitive, especially if your finger tips are a bit wet or greasy.
On the left hand side of the keyboard are some quick access buttons for media playback, something that is fairly common on most desktop keyboards today.
Dell also offers QuickSnap colour kits for the lid so you can customise your laptop. These are available in Venice Blue, Graphite Swirl, Bamboo and Burlwood. Personally I don’t think any of them look that great and for £20 a pop I would stick with the plain silver/grey lid that is ships as standard.
Looking at the specifications of the Inspiron 8600 you might have deducted that it is a large laptop and it measures 274 x 359 x 38mm (DxWxH) which makes this a fair slab to carry around with you. The weight of 3.27kg fully loaded doesn’t help either, so even though this is a Centrino based laptop, don’t think of it is a traveller’s dream.
A three year next business day on-site warranty is included which is first rate, but what’s even more impressive is that the 8600 is also covered for accidental damage for three years. I was a little disappointed to find a copy of Microsoft Works 7.0 in the box as this is a very basic office package and lacks a copy of Word.
The Inspiron 8600 has a lot of powerful components but does it stand up to every day tasks and how good is the battery life? Actually I was amazed by the battery life of something this big, as it managed an amazing four hours and 46 minutes in Mobile Mark 2002. This beats pretty much every other notebook we have seen in the past months bar a few. The SYSmark score of 173 is also the fastest I’ve seen from a Centrino based notebook and there is no reason why the Inspiron 8600 shouldn’t be able to cope with pretty much any task a modern PC would be used for. It falls behind somewhat in 3DMark 2001 and 3DMark03 compared to some more powerful machines with the same graphics chipset, but the Pentium M processor was never really intended for the gamer. The PCMark 2002 scores are much better, especially the memory score which bodes well for memory intensive applications such as image editing.
It’s not easy to sum up the Dell Inspiron 8600 as it’s a great desktop replacement machine in so many ways and the superb battery life makes it a great machine even away from a power socket, despite its size and weight. But there is one crucial factor to add in to the equation and that is the steep price of £1,831.83 inc VAT but excluding delivery.
You’ll be able to find quality laptops far cheaper than this, but none of those will have the high quality display or the excellent battery life of the Inspiron 8600. You do indeed get what you pay for when it comes to computers and if you need the power and the features of a beast such as this, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t get one. But for the average laptop user, the Inspiron 8600 is a little too expensive.
The Dell Inspiron 8600 is a stunning mobile computer with some seriously cutting edge components. You’re unlikely to find another notebooks with a higher resolution screen than this, and if you’re doing a lot of image editing or spreadsheet work you’ll love it. I found the resolution a bit too high for comfortable use and would prefer a 1,680 x 1,050 screen. However, if you’ve got deep pockets and want a notebook with the highest possible resolution, great battery life, and solid performance, the Inspiron 8600 is the perfect and only choice.
If you’re interested in buying this notebook use the following e-Value code on the Dell website: 200-I08REV