Offering more power than a netbook while costing less than a laptop with an Intel CULV processor, this type of laptop might just hit the sweet spot for a lot of users. The new Inspiron can be equipped with either a 1.7GHz single-core Athlon II Neo K125 or a 1.3GHz dual-core K325.
The RS880M chipset also packs a Radeon HD 4200 GPU, which should make light-work of showing HD video on the laptop's 1,366x768px screen. Unfortunately there aren't too many configuration options, but the notebook is available with up to 4GB of DDR3 and a 250GB or 320GB hard-drive. Being a proper notebook, it also runs a full-fat copy of Windows 7 Home Premium instead of the stripped-down Starter edition.
All of this fits into a rather attractive little package, too. Built in a distinctively-Dell style, the laptop weighs a relatively svelte 1.56kg (3.44lbs) and is under an inch thick at the front. The included 6-cell battery, which the manufacturer claims is good for over six-and-a-half hours of usage, does create a slight bulge underneath, but doesn't protrude out of the back of the chassis. As for connectivity, the M101z packs all of the normal ports and includes an HDMI-out, a 3-in-1 card reader and a SIM-card slot for good measure.
Nile-powered laptops occupy a nice middle-ground between Atom-powered machines and more-pricey CULV ultraportables, while still providing a decent battery life. The addition of a Radeon graphics-core for light gaming and video-decoding duties just sweetens the deal. For anyone interested, the Inspiron M101z is available from Dell immediately starting at £379 for the single-core model.Would you go for this or an Atom-powered netbook with a helping hand from NVIDIA's ION technology?