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Dell Inspiron M101z review
Dell Inspiron M101z review
Published by dellmaster
Default Dell Inspiron M101z review

Here is member and founder Dunhamzzz full review of the Dell Inspiron M101z:

The Dell Inspiron M101z is an 11.6” sub-notebook released in August 2010, replacing the previous Inspiron 11z. However the M101z branches off from Dells normally Inspiron line of Intel-powered notebooks as under the hood it has an AMD Athlon II Neo K125 processor, and powerful ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 for great HD playback. Pushing it even further the M101z comes configurable with up to 4GB of RAM, really blurring the definition of sub-notebook = sub-power.

Design and Features
The Dell Inspiron M101z has had a lot of attention put into its unique design features. At first glance you will notice the vibrant colours adorned by the lid. The M101z comes in 4 colours – Promise Pink, Peacock Blue, Tomato Red and Clear Black. Each colour also adds some additional details to the notebook in the form of either pattern on the palm in the pink version or an attractive tessellating pattern on the lid. As for the shape, the M101z is a bit bulky but pulls it off in a very elegant way. It has the same wedge-shape and forward hinge of the previous Mini 1012, in that there is a slight overhang behind the screen hinge. This allows for the 6-cell battery to be fully integrated into the back of the notebook with nothing sticking out; and because it’s behind the screen hinge the 1.5” thickness of the notebook is effectively hidden at the back.

The ports that decorate the side of the M101z are as follows: 3xUSB, Memory Card Reader, HDMI, Ethernet, Kesington Lock, Audio jacks and even a VGA port at the back of the laptop mean technically you could attach 2 monitors for treble screening. All of the ports are easily accessible, although I do think the Audio jacks (which are located half way along the side) maybe should have been positioned closer to the front to get optimum headphone length!

Sound and Vision
The 11.6” WLED display is what pushes this notebook out of netbook status, and it certainly does that in a big way. The 1366 x 768 High-Definition screen delivers a great picture with a large spectrum of brightness settings, meaning you can blind yourself or sit in the dark with no strain on your eyes. The one downfall of the screen comes directly from the hinge design of the M101z, as a result of the hinge position you simply cannot tilt the screen very far back, and it has to be said the viewing angles of the screen are not amazing with some colour distortion if you didn’t get the angle just right.
The speakers on this device are the best I’ve heard in any sub-notebook so far. Two of them are located on the front underside and they produce extremely clear sounds that can be cranked up to more than loud enough – something that other netbooks or notebooks of similar size cannot deliver. The M101z came pre-installed with SRS sound to give depth to the sound produced, but I have opted to disable this because the speakers sound fine au naturel.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is a chiclet style and is completely full size which makes for a great typing experience; all keys are in the right place apart from the home, end, page up + page down which can be used by holding down the fn key+arrow keys. Additionally Dell have managed to put in a slim line of F1-F12 keys across the top with added functions on the fn key for activating the wireless, volume and adjusting brightness etc. Initially I found this to be a bit of a pain as I was adjusting the brightness when I wanted to ctrl+f4 to close a tab, but there is program which you can use to reverse the FNs with the media keys.

For the touchpad, Dell has gone for the classical and proven slightly-textured touchpad with separate buttons below. The touchpad feels nice and spacious with plenty of room to manoeuvre. It also supports a large array of multi-touch gestures including circle-scrolling which I have not experienced before, it certainly makes scrolling long pages a breeze. I found the texture of the touchpad to be just fine for moving around with great responsiveness from the hardware.

The model of M101z I have sports 2 x 1.3Ghz AMD Athlon II Neo K325 CPUs paired with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 which is the highest model available. I have found the overall performance with this hardware to be extremely good; I was able to run a multitude of programs and I only managed to lag it out when I open my notoriously resource-hogging java-powered Eclipse IDE. Menus and everyday use were quite simply as fast as it should have been.
For Video playback, Radeon HD supports flash GPU acceleration and I was able to play fullscreen 1080p movies from Youtube with only a few minor stutters, 720p and anything in the window played just perfect. I was even able to get a few 3D games running at low settings across the wide HD Screen. All this happens with a fan that kicks in intermittently as it's needed to keep the system nice and cool. The fan wasn't too loud and certainly had no chance of drowning out the loud speakers that the M101z has.
As far as the battery is concerned, I have been consistently getting 4-4.5 hours with light internet use, including a few Youtube videos and medium brightness settings. This may not be as much as advertised but after going from a Dell Mini with about 2.5 hours of battery life and with this much bigger notebook to power I personally found it to be acceptable.

The M101z ships with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and comes with the normal selection of pre-installed Dell software including the Dell Dock, Dell webcam and support software etc. Admittedly the first thing I did was to go through the list of pre-installed applications and remove all of this bloatware which thankfully wasn’t tricky at all.

For a notebook of its size, the M101z boasts a lot of power with a great design at a very reasonable cost. For the $500 price tag you could get yourself a decent 15" laptop, but that's not the point with the M101z; Dell have successfully put together a fast sub-notebook with an eye catching design. I have moved on to full time use of the M101z from my previous souped up Mini 1010 and do not regret it one bit.

More pictures and my unboxing can be found here.

Tech Specs:

AMD AthlonTM II Neo Single Core Processors
AMD AthlonTM II Neo Dual Core Processors

Operating System
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

Up to 8GB 800MHz DDR3 SDRAM

AMD RS880M chipset with SB820 south bridge

ATI Mobility Radeon TM HD 4225

LCD Display
11.6" (29 cm) 1366 x 768 HD TLF WLED

Audio and Speakers
SRS premium Surround sound standard
2 X 1.5W speakers for total of 3W standard

Hard Drives
Up to 320GB1 configured with a 5400 RPM5 SATA hard drive.

USB 2.0 (3)with one USB Powershare to support sleep and charge
Integrated 10/100 LAN (RJ45)
15-pin VGA video connector
Audio jacks (1-line out, 1 mic-in)
7-in-1 Media Card Reader
AC adapter connector

6-cell 56WHr Li-Ion Battery with up to 6 hours 36 minutes of battery life

Built-in 1.3M Pixel Webcam

Wi-Fi Options
Standard Dell Wireless 1501 802.11 g/n
Optional Dell Wireless 1520 802.11a/g/n
Optional Sprint Internal Mobile Broadband Card w/GPS (Gobi 5620)
Optional Verizon Internal Mobile Broadband with GPS (Gobi 5620)
Optional ATT Internal Mobile Broadband with GPS (5540)
Optional Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 802.11 a/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0 802.11b/g/n combo card

Ports, Slots, Chassis

Externally Accessible
(1) HDMI
(1) VGA
(1) Microphone
(2) Headphone
(1) SIM card slot

Dimensions & Weight
Width: 8.07” (205mm)
Height: 0.95” (24.3) front –1.38” (35 mm) back
Depth: 11.5” (292mm)
Starting weight of 3.44 lbs (1.56Kg)

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