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Dell Inspiron 6000: a first look

Dell's new Inspiron 6000 promises to be a solid and highly configurable desktop replacement notebook, although the jury's still out on the potency of Intel's Sonoma platform.

The Inspiron 6000 from Dell will be among the first notebooks to hit the market with Intel's new Sonoma technology. According to Intel, Sonoma will deliver faster data processing, and users -- particularly gamers and graphics pros -- should see less audio and video chop, quicker task execution, less power consumption and longer battery life as a result. The Inspiron 6000, a desktop-replacement notebook with multimedia aspirations, will be available with a Celeron or Pentium M processor at speeds up to 2.13GHz.

In addition to the Sonoma technology, the Inspiron 6000 offers a number of improvements over the Inspiron 5160, which it will replace in Dell's home/small business line-up. Upgraded features include a 15.4in. wide-screen display (available in WXGA, WSXGA and WUXGA resolutions), a slightly slimmer profile (though it's about 2.5cm wider), a better keyboard layout, optional Bluetooth, front edge media controls and four USB 2.0 ports. Also onboard are an S-Video output, FireWire, VGA, 10/100 Ethernet and modem connections, plus a multi-format, double-layer DVD burner. Hard drive capacities will range from 30GB to 80GB.

Configured with the upgraded Pentium M processor, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a 15.4in. WXGA display, and the DVD burner option, this system will not be the cheapest option available. Also, Dell lists the Inspiron 6000's weight at 3kg, but our scale said 3.2kg (3.6kg with the compact AC adapter). That's not unreasonable for a desktop replacement, but certainly not your lightest option.

Preliminary testing of the Inspiron 6000 shows only modest gains in speed and performance over systems with similarly clocked, last-generation Pentium M processors (with a 400MHz frontside bus as opposed to 533MHz). We'll be posting a full review of the Inspiron 6000 and other Sonoma systems in the coming weeks. Starting at around £900 (inc. VAT), the Dell Inspiron 6000 will initially be available only with integrated graphics; the discrete graphics version is scheduled to ship early in February, with a 100GB hard drive option due to appear in March 2005.

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