On the outside there’s little change to be seen. Those in the UK still get a choice between ‘Tuxedo’ Black and ‘Crimson’ Red finishes, while the lucky blighters Stateside enjoy the option of a rather fetching looking ‘Arctic’ White – no doubt to appease those looking for a MacBook alternative. It’s not entirely clear why Dell don’t offer this option more widely yet, but a change would be most welcome!
Processor options remain largely the same, with our sample coming with the Core 2 Duo T7250, which is clocked at 2.0GHz with an 800MHz front side bus and has 2MB L2 Cache on-board. This is a very capable option for most needs, while those with more demanding requirements can choose between a 2.2GHz T7500 and the 2.4GHz T7700.
For system memory you get 2GBs (2x1GB) worth of 667MHz DDR2 RAM as standard, with an option for 4GB (2x2GB) also available. However, this is only worthwhile if you’re opting for 64-bit Vista that can use that amount of memory, so 2GBs is the most the majority will need. One area that does see a significant upgrade, though, is the hard drive, with a 250GB 5,400rpm SATA HDD coming as standard across the range. You can also opt for a 64GB SSD, though this will set you back an eye-watering £800 and hardly seems worth it in a notebook of this size.
Another area that’s notably improved is the graphics options, with a 256MB nVidia 8600M GT coming as standard. It still won’t rip through all the latest games, but you should be able to play a good selection of titles at 1,280 x 800 with some details turned down.
However, this improvement in graphics processing isn’t matched by the display options. One of the main attractions of the M1330 was its LED backlit screen, but unfortunately no such option is available on this larger model. Moreover, at present the only option is the standard CCFL backlit 1,280 x 800 screen. This is quite a capable display, with a nice even backlight and decent colour production, but in what is supposed to be the premium product some greater choice wouldn’t go amiss.