Dell – Inspiron 640m review

meaty laptop with long battery life
Photo of Dell – Inspiron 640m
£863.50 (as configured)

Dell has been refreshing and updating its Inspiron line of laptops, replacing old models with new ones incorporating the latest technologies. Looking stylish in its white and silver finish, the Inspiron 640m is the replacement for the 630m and features Dual Core processing power. It’s aimed at people who want a mobile entertainment PC.

As is the norm with Dell products, there is a wide choice of options available for you to configure your 640m exactly as you want it. The system we looked at was the base model with a Core Duo T2300 CPU at its heart, which has a clock speed of 1.66GHz, but if you want more grunt then Dell offers faster versions.

Backing this processor up was 512MHz of DDR2 memory (again the standard fit – you also have the option of 1GB or 2GB), although you don’t get to use all of this as the integrated Intel GMA950 graphics adapter takes a chunk of it; anything from 8MB up to 224MB on a system with 512MB of system memory.

Having integrated graphics lets the Inspiron 640m down somewhat; a dedicated graphics solution would have made it a more rounded entertainment system as it would offer a gaming option, although admittedly at the cost of battery life (more of which later). Dell has installed its MediaDirect instant-on technology on the 640m, meaning that you don’t have to boot into Windows to watch DVDs or listen to music, which is handy.

The screen is a widescreen 14.1-inch model (WXGA resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels). That’s ideal for watching DVD movies on, but for an extra £23.50 (plus VAT) there is a WXGA+ UltraSharp screen which has Dell’s TrueLife, high-gloss, sharp contrast technology as well as giving you a 1,440 x 900 pixel native resolution – a much better proposition.

Dell has done a good job with the keyboard on the Inspiron 640m. It’s nicely positioned and the keys feel well made with just the right amount of travel, making it a pleasure to type on. Below the keyboard is a responsive trackpad and two mouse buttons.

For a laptop, the 640m has pretty impressive performance thanks to its Dual Core power. Tested with SYSmark 04SE it gave a very respectable score of 184 but what really impresses is the battery life. Our system came with the optional 9-cell battery (additional £11.75 + VAT) which sticks a little way out of the back of the laptop.

When tested with MobileMark 05 it yielded some impressive times; just over four hours with the DVD playback test – making it a perfect tool for watching DVD movies on the move – and just over eight hours under the productivity test, which is great if you have to attend meetings or have long presentations and don’t want to lug the mains adapter around with you.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 353 3924

It's a shame that Dell only opted for integrated graphics on the Inspiron 640m, but in spite of that, it is a well performing laptop with exceptional battery life if you opt for the higher capacity battery.