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Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 gaming notebook
Phew, what a scorcher!
The keyboard action is pretty good - the keys are full size and have a good degree of travel coupled with a solid break. There's a reassuring absence of flex, even when typing at speed and I found that I could comfortably type on the XPS for extended periods. The layout of the keyboard is also good - The Shift, Caps Lock, Tab, Ctrl, Return and Backspace keys are all large, while the cursor keys are set slightly away from the main keyboard for easy access. And the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left, just like on a desktop keyboard - this should make things easy for anyone that uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts.
Below the keyboard is a silver touchpad that performed well. That said you have to set the sensitivity very high in order to traverse the whole screen - that's the only downside with a super-high resolution display. The touchpad has sections allocated for both vertical and horizontal scrolling through documents, which is handy. There are two large, silver buttons below the touchpad that respond with a reassuring click when pressed.
Looking around the chassis, there's no shortage of features on offer. On the right hand side you'll find an SD card slot, a four-pin FireWire port, a headphone socket, a microphone socket and a Type II PC Card slot. At the front you'll find a full set of multimedia controls, including volume up/down, mute, play/pause, skip forward/backwards and stop. The left side is dominated by the DVD Writer that will burn both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW media. You'll also find a couple of USB 2.0 ports next to the optical drive. The rear is pretty well stacked with the power socket, D-SUB, DVI, four USB 2.0 ports, modem socket, Ethernet port and TV-out.
The main feature that sets this machine apart from other gaming notebooks is the Centrino badge. The majority of gaming machines I've seen have been Pentium 4-based, with the odd Athlon 64 system thrown in for good measure, but by going with a Centrino platform, Dell is hoping to offer great gaming performance and the ability to use this machine on the move.
Obviously there's a Pentium M CPU inside, and Dell has gone for the fastest chip currently available, running at 2.13GHz. Being based on the newer 'Sonoma' Centrino release, the XPS is also equipped with 1GB of DDR 2 memory, to help make the most of the processor. There's also a 100GB 5400rpm hard disk installed, but this is still an IDE unit rather than Serial ATA.