Dell – Inspiron 510M review

chunky Centrino laptop with good connectivity
Photo of Dell – Inspiron 510M
£1,315.11 + VAT (spec as reviewed)

Dell’s Inspiron range of notebooks goes from the mobile to the desktop replacement. The latest addition to the line-up, the twin-spindle Inspiron 510M, sits at the higher weight limit of what you might consider ‘mobile’. Although Dell claims it to be thin and light, this laptop is still pretty heavy to carry around all day, weighing a hefty 2.7kg. But it looks good in its silver and grey finish.

Powered by one of Intel’s 1.7GHz Pentium-M processors, you can either have the Inspiron 510M as a full-blown Centrino model (with Intel’s 855GME chipset and Pro/Wireless Network) or, as in this case, as a non-Centrino model, the only difference being that the Intel wireless setup has been replaced by Dell’s own TrueMobile 1400, 802.11a/b/g mini-PCI wireless card.

The laptop comes with 512MB of DDR333 memory, which is rapidly becoming the standard fit for today’s notebooks. If this isn’t enough then the two SO-DIMM slots accept up to 2GB of memory.

As the Inspiron 510M is aimed at the corporate user it comes as no surprise that the worst part of the package is its graphics performance. It uses Intel’s integrated Extreme graphics controller, which shares up to 64MB of system memory, so this is one notebook you won’t be using for the latest 3D games. But if all you want to use it for is normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill office applications then it’s more than enough. And the 15-inch SVGA+ panel, which has a native resolution of 1,400 pixels by 1,050 pixels, is sharp and clear.

One of the two spindles referred to above is inside the 5,400rpm Hitachi 60GB hard drive, while the other is used by the Modular Bay, which can hold a variety of optical drives; DVD-ROM, DVD+RW or, as in this case, an 8x/24x DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The bay could otherwise hold a floppy drive, a second hard drive or an extra battery. There’s also a Type I/II PC card slot.

As well as the wireless networking, you can also connect to the outside world via the integrated 10/100Mbps Ethernet connection or by the integrated V.92 modem. The keyboard is of the usual Dell quality and feels responsive to the touch. It is accompanied by a Touchpad and two mouse buttons, and with the two speakers on the front edge you don’t have the worry about blocking them as you type.

With the standard 4-cell battery we got around two hours and 45 minutes of battery life, which isn’t too bad for this type of notebook. For longer life there is a 6-cell battery available.

Dell supplied the Inspiron 510M with Windows XP Home, but you can order it with XP Professional (add on £50 + VAT), with MS Works 7.0 as the bundled software package.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 907 5039

It may be a bit too heavy to be truly mobile, but the Inspiron 510M is a well featured, well built notebook with lots of connectivity options. At the moment Dell is offering all sorts of deals on the Inspiron range, so if you are thinking about a new notebook, now might be the time to buy.