The Dell Inspiron 1100 is Dell's entry into the ring for the budget notebook class. A Celeron based notebook, this system provides for some of the fastest performances and greatest battery life among the competitors in the budget class. The price of the Inspiron 1100 can be had as low as $700, an amazing price for a decent notebook. Of course though, you can't expect it all from a notebook of this price range. Its a bulky machine with poor sound, no integrated wireless and few to none standards bells and whistles.
In The Box
Here's what comes in the box with your newly bought Inspiron 1100
The Inspiron 1100 we received fresh out of the box
Our Inspiron 1100 had the following configuration specs:
Included in the box you will get
The most basic configuration for a Dell Inspiron 1100 will give you everything you need for basic work and play. The base configuration includes a 2GHz Celeron processor, 256MB of 266MHz DDR SDRAM, a 14.1-inch screen (XGA 1,024x768 resolution), a CD drive and 20GB 4,200rpm hard drive. You can of course configure the Dell Inspiron 1100 to your hearts desire using the Dell.com online shopping site. For instance, you could include a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 CPU, 1GB of RAM, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, 40GB hard drive with 5400rm and up to a 15-inch XGA display. In other words, you can turn a budget laptop into a not so budget laptop!
One disappointment is that you can't include integrated internal Wi-Fi in the Inspiron 1100. You can select an option to include a Dell True Mobile Wi-Fi card but that's simply a card that will slot into your machines Type II PCMCIA slot and is not hidden away inside. Most other Inspiron machines offer internal Wi-Fi. I found that the wireless card for the 1100 was not nearly as strong as the strength I get from my Dell Inspiron 8200, probably due to the fact the PC card style Wi-Fi receiver has a single antenna setup.
One thing I really like about the Inspiron 1100 is its venice blue and silver coloring, it makes for a fairly sporty look. This is the same casing that's being used in most of the new Inspiron series releases such as the 600m, 8600 and 5100. One thing I don't like about the Inspiron 1100 is its large size though. With a 14.1 inch screen it is certainly not one of your 17" desktop replacement monsters, but with its dimensions of 12.9 by 10.8 by 1.7 inches and a weight of 7.4 pounds it's no lightweight. Given the fact there are ultraportables that can outmatch the Inspiron 1100 in every aspect of performance and specs you'll realize that Dell didn't spend a whole lot of time or money trying to widdle down weight on this notebook, but that's what makes it a budget notebook of course. Slightly inferior quality and heavier parts are the tradeoff for a cheaper machine. I definitely don't recommend this notebook to anyone that travels a lot, it's way too big and heavy, especially if you get the 15" screen. However, if you go on occasional trips and don't need to use this notebook on a plane or for business on the road then it's fine.
Many notebooks with large cases will contain two internal secondary storage devices, a floppy and CD-RW for instance. But not with the Inspiron 1100. You can only get one fixed (not swappable) when configuring the Inspiron 1100. You have to choose from CD, DVD, CD-RW or DVD/CD-RW drives when ordering. The DVD/CD-RW combo is the way to go if you can spend $50 - $100 extra. If you really want a floppy Dell offers an external USB floppy drive for $49.
One positive point about the Inspiron 1100's large case is that it provides room for a spacious and firm keyboard. There's plenty of room for ports and slots too, but this being a budget notebook you kind of get the minimum necessary as far as expansion ports go. A 56K model port sits on the right side while an Ethernet, VGA, S-Video out and two USB 2.0 ports run along the back edge. The left-side has headphone and microphone ports and one Type II PC Card slot. The front edge has two speakers, the sound from those is tinny and of low quality.
Back of the Inspiron 1100 with USB 2.0, VGA out, Ethernet, S-Video and power ports
Left side of the Inspiron 1100 with headphone, microphone and DVD/CD-RW drive
Front view of the Dell Inspiron 1100
Bottom-side of the Dell Inspiron 1100
A view from above of the Dell Inspiron generous sized keyboard and touch-pad
Celeron processors aren't the fastest on the block when it comes to speed in processing computer instructions, but for the casual PC user it will likely be fast enough for everyday uses such as email, web-surfing, word processing and what have you. In the Celeron class of notebooks the Inspiron 1100 actually stacks up well performance wise. The HP Pavilion ze420 and Gateway 400E are direct competitors that the Inspiron 1100 outperforms in speed tests. The fact that Dell uses an independent graphics chip in the 1100 while HP and Gateway use chips that borrow video RAM from main memory might explain this speed difference. In using a mobile application performance rating program named BAPCo MobileMark 2002 the Dell Inspiron 1100 scored a 103 rating while the HP Pavilion ze4200 scored 102 and the Gateway 400E a miserable 89. In using the 1100 I was pleasantly surprised by its snappiness in using basic programs. Opening multiple programs did not bog the system down and the opening of applications was instantaneous -- no hard drive spinning or indication of a struggle to open such applications was displayed by the 1100. I'm used to using higher-end notebook machines and was pleasantly surprised the the 1100 didn't force me to have a magazine at the wait to deal with slow loading of applications! One downside to the Celeron processor used is that it tended to run hot, the fan used to cool the processor is pretty loud so be prepared for a sometimes annoying fan.
With a budget system you can't expect too much in the way of built-in software. The Inspiron 1100 gives you the choice of two operating systems, either Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional. If you're a regular user and don't do such things as using a computer to do programming you're probably just as well of with the Win XP Home, it'll save you some money going with that option too. Included with the system is WordPerfect Productivity Pack and Quicken 2003 New User Edition. You can upgrade to Microsoft Works or Microsoft Office XP if you want to pay the extra for those of course. Also included with the Inspiron 1100 is Dell's Jukebox, MovieStudio and PictureStudio applications for editing multimedia files.
The Inspiron 1100 6450mAh removable battery is large, but powerful
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