Funky portable comes equipped with ports for every occasion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 September, 2003, 12:00am


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Product: Dell Inspiron 300M
Price: From $12,098
Pros: Smart ultra-portable with plenty of ports
Cons: Weak keyboard

It is not often that Dell Computer's designers let their hair down, but the company's new Inspiron 300M is a fun personal computer that combines lightweight portability with a size just small enough to fit on an airline table.

At just 1.3kg, it is also light enough to carry without dislocating your shoulder.

The Inspiron 300M is not the most powerful laptop on the block and some people might shrink at the idea of a 1.2-gigahertz Pentium M. But for most people, the speed is more than enough. The processor plus 64 megabytes of video ram and 256MB of random access memory (expandable to a gigabyte) means there is easily enough muscle for multimedia.

The 12.1-inch 1024x768 display is reasonable. As for storage, the Inspiron comes with a 40GB hard drive and the base station adds a 24x DVD/CDRW drive, with an option for a DVD+RW.

While most Dell laptops have limited expandability, this one has plenty. When you add the docking station, this one has more ports than Hutchison Telecommunications. The laptop has a PC Card slot, a secure digital slot, two universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 ports, Ethernet, a modem, FireWire, audio and infrared. The lightweight base station comes with two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet and the traditional parallel, serial, PS/2 and video ports. It also houses the DVD drive, audio controls and space for an extra battery.

As a Centrino-equipped laptop, the 300M comes with 802.11b wireless connectivity. Dell has added an aerial for the faster 802.11g standard and Bluetooth radio link.

Software consists of Windows XP Home, some Dell utilities and Symantec's Norton anti-virus program.

My only problem with the system is the keyboard. One key actually popped off after a few days of heavy typing, while the spacebar slipped flush with the front of the machine. Hopefully, this was just a case of a rogue keyboard because nobody expects to send their machine for repairs after just a week's use.