Dell XPS M1710 Metallic Black 17-inch Notebook Review
The XPS Difference
The big feature of the Dell M1710 Metallic Black Armor edition laptop is it's focus on performance, which doesn't necessarily mean for gaming purposes. Every component you can select are top-end configurations that most other manufacturers don't even offer yet. The XPS M1710 comes standard with two 512MB DDR2 for instant dual-channel performance with an upgrade to two 2GB sticks if you want. The hard drive spins at 7200 RPM (better than the typical 4200 RPM or 5400 RPM units) and uses the fast SATA bus for performance closer to a typical desktop. Finally, the graphics don't suck!
The base GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB video is more than sufficient to run current games well and gives you the bragging rights of having a laptop faster than your friend's desktop. If for some reason you're unsatisfied with the 7900 GS and you want more game performance, you can always get the Go 7900 GTX with 512MB! (At time of publishing, Dell Canada is offering a free upgrade to the 7900 GTX, so check your local Dell site for the latest deal!).
Image courtesy of Dell Inc.
But what's the point of packing in all this blistering performance if the laptop itself looks boring? The XPS M1710 Metallic Black Armor edition laptop comes with multi colored LEDs in the fan grills, front speakers, and on the display lid. You can customize the colors of the LEDs from Ruby (red) to Diamond (brilliant white) to Sapphire (bright blue). There are 16 colors to pick from and you can pick different colors for each part of the M1710. The touch pad is also bling'ed out with a backlit with a red XPS logo. If you prefer to draw less attention to yourself, these LEDs can all be turned off. If the Metallic Black scheme is not flashy enough for you, you can also get the Special Edition Formula Red model which has a wicked red scheme.
On the desktop, Dell uses a special XPS Windows XP UI theme to give it a special look and feel. The factory installation also comes with Dell Support 3.0 which is unique to the XPS product line that informs the customer of important updates that can be downloaded.
When you join the "XPS Club" membership has its privledges. Depending on your region, you can get upgraded warranty service as a standard feature in the form of 2 year on-site service, and all XPS laptops come with a special XPS support channel which is staffed by specially trained XPS technicians. This all comes on top of Dell's generous warranty that covers spills and accidental damage. You can purchase extended warranty anytime before the last day of your warranty term which is superior to the 30 to 60 days other vendors offer.
When you get the XPS M1710 Metallic Black Armor edition laptop, you get a few things inside the box.
There are 5 CDs included in the box including two factory installation CDs for the OS and system software (drivers and enhancements), Sonic CinePlayer, Roxio Creator, and Microsoft Small Business Edition 2003. When ordering your M1710 you can pick from Windows XP Pro or Windows MCE, and choose different office productivity software like WordPerfect or MS Office Pro. To help organize these CDs so you don't lose them, Dell has included a XPS CD wallet.
A component video adapter with coax SPIDIF output is thoughtfully thrown in the bundle so you can enjoy the XPS M1710's HD content and digital audio on your home theater.
Finally there is a XPS drawstring pouch that you can use to put the AC adapter and CDs in when travelling. You can also fill the pouch with rocks and use it as a laptop theft deterrant.
Documentation Done Right
So often I see documentation that is either poorly written, or doesn't contain enough content to be useful. While I consider myself a technical expert, there are times when I have questions I need answered and the documentation is usually where I turn to first. Dell's documentation is done right in every respect and is the best documentation I have seen included with a computer product.
The content is concise and thorough, and covers everything from how to transfer old files and connect a printer (for beginners), to how to open the laptop so you can replace the coin battery (expert). Frankly I'm surprised that Dell has documented how to open their laptop and upgrade components inside since this is something other vendors prefer you not to do because of warranty issues.
There is important support contact information for all regions in the globe so you're never stuck without a lifeline.