Dell Inspiron 9100 First Take Review

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The Dell Inspiron 9100 is the latest and greatest notebook release from Dell.  Following are several of my first thoughts and many pictures of the Dell Inspiron 9100 desktop replacement style notebook.

First Thoughts

It took exactly a month of waiting for my Inspiron 9100 to arrive from order day (March 7, 2004) to arrival at my door (April 7, 2004).  Usually Dell ships notebooks faster, but they apparently had problems with initial shipments of the Inspiron 9100.  Rumor has it that screen and graphics card problems plagued the first notebooks off the line, but Dell won’t confirm that and they assure us that the shipping delays incurred went to ensuring a quality product was delivered to all. 

It’s been a long time since I have used a true desktop replacement style of notebook, and after using the Sony VAIO V505EX last week I was taken aback by the size of the Dell Inspiron 9100 upon opening it.  In an interesting line up shot, you’ll see the three notebooks I have all lined up for a size comparison, the Inspiron 9100 is on the far right: 

From left to right: Sony VAIO V505EX, IBM ThinkPad T40, Dell Inspiron 9100

The Inspiron 9100 ss not staggeringly large, such as the case is with the new Acer Aspire 7100 series that’s 16lbs, but the 9100 is twice the size of the Sony VAIO V505.  Weighing in at 8.92lbs and with dimensions of 14.1″ x 10.8″ x 2.0″ (Width x Depth x Height) the Inspiron 9100 is twice the weight of the VAIO V505 and over 3lbs heavier than the IBM T40 notebook.  But with that size we of course get a notebook that acts and performs more like a desktop computer, carries a bigger 15.4″ WXGA screen, and is great for viewing DVDs and using a couple of application windows at a time.

When buying the Inspiron 9100 you get a brown box with your order detail attached and inside that box are the following items

  • Inspiron 9100 notebook
  • Power Cord/AC Adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty information
  • Nicely written Owner’s Manual
  • Recovery CDs and other backup or installable software
  • Video adapter

A view of the Inspiron 9100 immediately out of its shipping box

Following are the basic specs for the Inspiron 9100 I configured:

  • Intel Pentium 4, 2.8GHz Processor
  • 15.4-in. WXGA screen
  • 512MB,400MHz 2DIMM RAM
  • 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 Graphics card
  • 40GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive
  • 4X CD/DVD burner (DVD+RW/+R)
  • 96 WHr 12 Cell Battery
  • Dell Truemobile 1300 802.11 b/g Wireless card
  • Microsoft Windows Home Edition (English)
  • 1 yr. Warranty

The total price for this was $1348.00, you can’t beat Dell for value.  That’s an amazing price for what I got, I did not configure a really high-end machine because I wanted to test a mid-range configuration that the largest number of people tend to buy through Dell.  You might want to up the processor speed and hard drive size when configuring this yourself.

Here’s a look at the various ports and input connectors on the Inspiron 9100

  1. S-video connector
  2. AC adapter connector
  3. D/Bay connector
  4. Video Connector
  5. USB connector (3 ports)
  6. Network connector
  7. Modem connector
  8. DVI-I connector
  9. Audio connections (2)
  10. FireWire Port
  11. PC Card Slot
  12. Module Bay
  13. Track Stick
  14. Touch Pad Buttons
  15. Touch Pad
  16. Track stick buttons
  17. Media Control Buttons
  18. Power Button



The WXGA 15.4″ screen is pretty.  Dell does screens right.  Watching “Lost In Translation” for a few minutes on the included Dell Media Experience DVD playing software (you can use Real One or Windows Media also if you choose) provided a nice viewing experience.

The Inspiron 9100 does a nice job for the playing and viewing of DVD movies


The Dell Inspiron 9100 includes a sub-Woofer for extra bass in the sound system.  I am very impressed by the quality of sound so far.  Usually with a notebook you assume you’ll have to buy speakers to have a prayer of getting decent sound output, but in the case of the Inspiron 9100 the quality of the speakers is good enough to skip the speakers.

Multi-Angle Views of the Inspiron 9100

Following are pictures of various angles of the 9100 so you can see what this notebook looks like on each of its sides.

Dell Inspiron 9100 front-side view

Dell Inspiron 9100 left-side view

The back of the Inspiron 9100 (bottom) with an IBM T40 piggy backing for size comparison purposes.

Dell Inspiron 9100 right-side view

Keyboard and Input Devices

The Inspiron 9100 keyboard is nice and comfortable to use.  I found that the thickness of the base, as you’ll notice in the pictures is quite significant, made it somewhat uncomfortable to place my hands on for long periods of time due to the fact I had to elevate my wrists.  With thinner notebooks the wrists are left more comfortable.  However, the keyboard is full size so no cramping of the fingers and the touchpad reacts well to movements.  The pointing stick is great, I’m so used to using a pointing stick with my full-time computer (IBM ThinkPad T40) that I’m lost when no such input device is included.

The Dell Inspiron 9100 has a nice touchpad, pointing stick and dual mouse input locations

More to Come

In 2-3 weeks time after I’m able to play with and use the Inspiron 9110 more I’ll have a full review of this machine.  My initial thoughts are that this seems to be a good desktop replacement style notebook for a very good price.  The build is typical hard-plastic style casing that you get with any Inspiron notebook, so it’s not the type of notebook you can lug around and abuse, otherwise either the case will crack or your back and should will break due to the size of this thing.  Right now I can recommend it for those that want a desktop replacement that stays on your office or home desk.  Students and Business travelers please don’t buy this notebook and think it will be okay to carry around and take to a coffee shop or on a plane, that’s not what this notebook is designed for.  But rather, if your looking for a notebook that can be easily moved around in an apartment or home, sit on a desk full time or maybe your lap for an hour or less then you may be happy with the 9100.

Pricing and Availability

The Inspiron 9100 is Available in various configurations from Dell.  Use our pricing engine to view current configurations and pricing, and keep checking back to for latest coupon codes and deals from Dell!




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