by Andrew Baxter, New York USA
The Dell Inspiron 6000 is Dell's first notebook to be released that includes the latest Intel Sonoma platform. The Inspiron 6000 is a 15.4" widescreen notebook that best acts as a desktop replacment since it weighs about 7lbs. With a price of around $1500 when configured with a Pentium M 730 1.6GHz processor, this notebook offers decent performance to cost ratio, but the look and build is rather underwhelming overall.
Dell Inspiron 6000 (view larger image)
Design and Build
I not too long ago reviewed the Dell Inspiron 700m mobile notebook. When I opened up the Inspiron 6000 I could only think "my gosh, this looks like a 700m bloated and on steroids." Seriously, the design and look is exactly the same as the 700m except it's of course twice the size. Overall I'm not too thrilled with the look. The white trim around the edges looks kind of chintzy up against the rest of the silvery colored notebook. It's also painfully obvious the construction is one of plastic when looking at this notebook, there's no need to tap the case to find out this is no rugged magnesium composite case.
The build is not terrible however, the lid of the notebook appears to give good protection to the back of the screen. I pushed in on the back of the lid and it was tough enough to prevent any ripples from appearing on the LCD screen. With some cheaper notebooks you'll find pushing in on the back of the lid reveals a very thin protection layer and ability to see where your finger is actually applying pressure from the back.
The silver finish also looks fairly scratch resistant and not prone to the paint coming off. I've seen some disastrous results with HP notebooks losing their paint and becoming scratched very easily, the paint finish on this notebook is different to what I see with HP and one that I know is more durable to resisting scratches.
Dell Inspiron 6000 above view of lid (view larger image)
Oh, and the "Inspiron" branding placed on the lid is kind of tacky looking, I could have done without that.
Ports and Buttons
The Inspiron 6000 provides your basic array of ports. Let's take a tour around the edge of this notebook to see where each port and hardware button is located.
On the left side is the CD-RW/DVD combo drive. You can configure a DVD burner if you like or various other optical drive options. The little gap to the left of the DVD drive is a security slot for locking down your notebook. Next to that is the fan output.
Back side of Dell Inspiron 6000 (view larger image)
On the back of the notebook we have the ethernet and modem ports on the far left-hand side (as shown in this picture). Next there are two USB 2.0 ports and an S-Video TV out port. In the middle at the back is a monitor output connector and then next to that is the AC adapter connector. On the right-side in this picture you see more vents to keep the notebook cool.
Right side of Dell Inspiron 6000 (view larger image)
On the right hand side you have a PC card slot located at about the middle. Next to that are the headphone and microphone jacks. Below the audio jacks is the Secure Digital card slot, a nice option for easily transferring your digital camera images or MP3 files if you have a device that uses such a memory card format, it's really too bad Dell didn't make this a multi-card reader as a lot of people use Compact Flash and Memory Stick flash memory storage formats. We also have two more USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port on the right side towards the back.
Front side of Dell Inspiron 6000 (view larger image)
On the front of the notebook we have two speakers on either side. In the middle you can see the hardware shortcut buttons for quick multimedia operations. From left to right they perform the following function: Mute sound, decrease sound, increase sound, play DVD/CD, skip back CD track, skip foward CD track, Stop.
I'm disappointed Dell did not include the latest Express Card slot on this notebook -- after all they are supporters of this new card standard and yet they've gone with the legacy PCMCIA slot, better would have been to include both Express Card and PCMCIA. Oh well.
Processor and Performance
So far my experience with the Inspiron 6000 in measuring performance has been mostly perception and not via benchmark. Perception wise it's certainly a snappy machine for using everyday applications such as Internet Explorer, Windows Media and Office Applications...but then again a budget Celeron processor can handle such things without a hiccup. The Pentium M 730 1.60 GHz processor with 533MHz FSB/915GM-chipset isn't noticeably faster than the older 1.60GHz processor with 400MHz FSB/855GM-chipset on my IBM Thinkpad T40 when using the notebook. But running a simple application that times how long it takes the processor to calcuate Pi to 2-million digits of accuracy does give away the fact the Intel Pentium M 730 is faster than the Intel Pentium M 725 in my ThinkPad T40, here are the results of the IBM Thinkpad T40 (with 1.60GHz Intel Pentium M 725) versus the Dell Inspiron 6000 (with 1.60GHz Intel Pentium M 730).
IBM ThinkPad T40 (Intel Pentium M 725): 2m23s (143s)
Dell Inspiron 6000 (Intel Pentium M 730): 2m6s (126s)
Do the math 100.00 - 100.00 * (126 / 143) = 11.89% difference
So the Pentium M 730 running at the same clock speed as the older Pentium M 725 appears to achieve a slightly better than 10% performance edge in pure processor calculation speed. I haven't tested graphics performance yet, but Intel claims a 93% performance gain with the Pentium M 730 over the Pentium M 725.
To view other notebooks and how fast they calculate Pi to 2-million digits and post your own stats, please visit our popular forum topic "Let's measure our notebook speeds".
The screen for the Dell Inspiron 6000 is a 15.4" widescreen (1280 x 800). Widescreen is becoming more and more popular these days, the Inspiron 5160 that the 6000 should eventually replace, was not widescreen so we continue to watch the migration away from standard screens to widescreens. Indeed, some people lament that sometimes they have trouble finding a notebook they want without widescreen, an odd scenario when notebook manufacturers continue to tout widescreen as if it were a unique feature.
Personally I find widescreen great for the viewing of spreadsheets and movies, sometimes for wide websites (ahhem, such as looking at the Dell.com website with their "choose a notebook layout") it's good too. For gaming widescreen can sometimes muck with the display and little benefit is gained by having a wider screen for such things as email programs or Word documents.
The Inspiron 6000 brightness is decent, the Inspiron 700m is much better and the Toshiba Satellite M45 I took a look at this week has a much better screen than the Inspiron 6000. To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed with the screen. I've seen much better from Dell and certainly the Sony XBrite and Toshiba TruBrite screens are better than what the Inspiron 6000 offers up. I'm also finding that on white screen areas the display has sort of a dirty and distracting look, much like what has been complained about on the Dell Inspiron 9200 WUXGA models. Some also have described this effect as being able to see "sparkles" that cause a greyish look when it should be pure white.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Dell Inspiron 6000 keyboard view (view larger image)
The keyboard on the Inspiron 6000 is standard in its configuration -- no weird button arangements, which is a good thing. It's plenty big enough and easy to type on. Complaints would be there is minor flex of the keyboard (although not bad at all, much better than other Dell's I've used) and some people will find the keys are kind of light to the touch. The major problem I have in typing with this notebook to be honest is the fact it's quite a thick machine. You have to raise your wrists a bit when the notebook is on your desk due to the fact the notebook base is thick and if you use it to type for hours on end, I think aching wrists might become a problem. A thin and light laptop or even a thinner laptop of the same size (such as the Toshiba Satellite M45) offers a more comfortable typing experience for the wrists.
The touchpad is decent and a good size on the Inspiron 6000. I much prefer a trackpoint/pointing stick as all IBM ThinkPads come with. Touchpads are a challenge to use a lot of times because you don't have total control of the cursor and it's easy to accidentally brush the touchpad while typing and find the cursor where you don't want it. The scrolling areas on the touchpad are appreciated, they allow you to quickly run your finger over this area to scroll up and down or right to left on a web page or within an application viewing area. Since this is a desktop machine, you'll want to get a mouse for easier navigation of the cursor and graphical user input.
With a rudimentary battery drain test of going from full charge to forced shut-down and hibernation at 5% batter the Dell Inspiron 6000 achieved 2 hours and 56 minutes of battery life on the standard battery under the following conditions:
1) Wi-Fi on
2) Screen Brightness full and forced on
3) Machine idling with no programs being used
These results are actually quite good for this style notebook and beats the pants off of the Toshiba M45 that achieved 1 hour and 27 minutes of battery life under the same conditions.
More to Come
We'll have a full review of the Dell Inspiron 6000 in the coming weeks and more insight into how the latest Intel Pewntium M processor stacks up on performance!
Pricing and Availability
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement