Dell – XPS M1330 review

outstanding ultraportable with 13.3-inch screen
Photo of Dell – XPS M1330

We recently reviewed the largest system in Dell’s XPS range, the huge desktop 720 H2C. Now meet the smallest; the stylish M1330, Dell’s latest ultraportable notebook which replaces the XPS M1210. Just calling it stylish is really doing it an injustice, as it’s Dells most desirable notebook to date. But it’s not had a trouble-free birth, due to some production problems that have now largely been worked through.

Dell claims that the XPS M1330 is the world’s thinnest 13.3-inch notebook and, while we wouldn’t dispute that for the front of the chassis (23mm), it’s far off the mark when it comes to the rear of the chassis, which measures some 34mm thick. But the wedge design of the XPS M1330 somehow adds to its appeal, and weighing in at 2kg with the standard 6-cell battery, it’s eminently portable too.

Recently Dell has discovered colour and the M1330 is another of its laptops available in a range of lid colours, albeit just two for this model; Tuxedo Black and the attractive Crimson Red of our review unit. Either finish is nicely contrasted by a strip of silver each side and both the inset Dell and XPS logos are also finished in silver. Opening the lid reveals a classy metallic silver and charcoal grey finish which complements the lid finish. To protect it Dell provides a good quality black and silver cover slip in the box.

As with most Dell systems you have a host of options available to you when you come to order your XPS M1330, either to save a bit of dosh or spend a bit more to get better performance. Our review system came with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 processor (clocked at 2.0GHz), but other options include the cheaper and slower T5250 (1.6GHz) if you need to save some money, and, if you need performance above everything else, the more expensive T7500 (2.20GHz and £116 extra).

The XPS M1330 comes with 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory as standard but can support a maximum of 4GB (additional £199.99), but even with the standard amount the laptop provides plenty of performance, producing a PCMark05 score of 4,530, enough to keep the installed Windows Vista Home Premium happy.

You also get a choice of screens with the XPS M1330. As standard it comes with a 13.3-inch, WXGA, CCFL screen with “UltraSharp and TrueLife technologies” and a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. But for an additional 50 quid you can opt for the brighter LED-backlit version which, if you have the extra cash, is quite frankly a no-brainer since it gives better brightness levels, superior colour and sharper details, and it should help extend battery life too. The screen has a 2-megapixel camera built into the top of the bezel and, unlike the web-cam built into the M1330′s predecessor, the M1210, this one is a fixed unit, cutting down on the bulk of a swivelling camera.

Driving the graphics in the XPS M1330 is an Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS card with 128MB of dedicated memory, and while the 3DMark06 score of 1,400 is quite impressive for this style of notebook, you still wouldn’t class it as a gaming machine.

The keyboard is a delight to use and stretches across the full length of the chassis, while in front of it sit the small trackpad and mouse buttons. The trackpad is a little on the small side, but it does have vertical and horizontal scrolling functions. A fingerprint reader is installed in front of the keyboard on the far right-hand side of the chassis for added security.

For storage our review sample came with a 5,400rpm, 160GB hard drive, but once again there are more options available, up to 320GB with a 5,400rpm spin speed or up to 200GB with a faster 7,200rpm drive. The tray-loading 8x optical drive of the M1210 has been replaced by a neater 8x DVD+/- slot-loading drive.

There’s also a 54mm Express Card slot which doubles as the home for the mini remote control unit. On the left-hand side of the chassis sit most of the ports; power in, VGA, Ethernet (10/100Mbps), HDMI, 4-pin FireWire and one of only two USB ports. Joining the optical drive on the right-hand side is the Express Card slot, the remaining USB port and the on/off switch for the WiFi and Bluetooth modules. The front of the chassis holds two audio ports along with a card reader.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 907 5818

Stylish and feature-rich, the XPS M1330 is Dell's best ultraportable to date. No, make that the best 13.3-inch notebook you can currently buy that doesn't have an apple as a logo.