Dell's Inspiron notebook design has remained basically the same for the past couple of years. This particular example is a good-sized machine; large enough for the keyboard to be comfortable, yet still small enough to qualify as a notebook PC rather than a portable desktop machine.
The keyboard has a good feel to it and most of the keys are full-sized, with the exception of the space bar and some of the function keys. In front of the keyboard is a wrist rest to aid typing while on the move, and set into this is a glidepoint mouse device, consisting of a touch-sensitive pad and two buttons.
Due in part to the relatively compact size of this notebook, it has a floppy drive installed but no CD-ROM drive. However, our review machine shipped with the optional CD-ROM module - a 24-speed unit - which can be swapped with the floppy drive quite easily. It is possible to use both devices simultaneously, but only by attaching the floppy drive to the supplied parallel cable and using it as an external device. Alternatively, the device bay can be fitted with an optional second Lithium Ion battery pack, doubling the operating time of the notebook.
The 13.3in TFT screen is powered by a NeoMagic MagicGraph 128XD adapter, equipped with 2MB of memory. This is capable of driving the display, which is bright and clear, at a top resolution of either 1024 x 768 in 16-bit colour depth or 800 x 600 in 24-bit colour depth. Audio functions, meanwhile, are provided by a Crystal FM synthesis chip and Yamaha software wavetable driver, for which two speakers are located under the screen. The volume of these can be controlled using function keys on the keyboard, as can the brightness of the screen. Audio connectors for speakers and a microphone are incorporated into the left hand side of the notebook, next to the PC Card slots that are capable of handling either two Type II or one Type III device.
The basic notebook model is fitted with 16MB of memory on the motherboard, the latter using Intel's 430TX PCI chipset and a Phoenix BIOS. Our review system was fitted with a total of 64MB, with a potential maximum of 144MB of SDRAM memory using the two SODIMM slots, although in our review machine both of these were occupied, making further upgrade an expensive proposition.
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