Display and Audio
With a fast GPU onboard, you want a nice display to show off all the effects the Go 7900 can muster and the M1710 certainly doesn’t disappoint. When turning on the M1710 for the first time you can’t help but notice the sharpness and brightness of the display. Dell has improved the UltraSharp display from 180 NITS from the previous M710 to 250 NITS on the M1710.
The native resolution is a fine 1920×1200 (WUXGA) that is very bright and consistent across the whole viewable area. With all the controls offered by the NVIDIA Forceware driver, you can tweak the image to however you like. The view angles are very good on the M1710 with the image perfectly viewable at 60-degrees on either side which is perfect for making presentations, showing off some videos, or making sure that people can see what you’re doing while gaming.
Previously, I enjoyed the 17″ display on the Asus A7J so how does the M1710 compare? The view angles on both laptops are very similar and the brightness is close. The Dell M1710 is slightly brighter and the higher resolution is a definite bonus. In the image below, the colors look slightly different because the A7J was adjusted to use a Vivid profile whereas the M1710 is using the default settings.
Dell M1710 (left), Asus A7J (right)
Dell M1710 (left), Asus A7J (right)
While testing the M1710, I did not notice any serious problems playing Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter or reading text. The display is gorgeous and will fit everything you need on the desktop. If I had to choose between the A7J or the M1710 display, the M1710 wins thanks to a higher resolution, and a seemingly brighter display.
When it comes to audio on a laptop, many customers are let down by the poor speakers built into the product. Many of us live with shoddy sound as a compromise for the functionality of a mobile computer — but it doesn’t have to be like this. As we saw with the Asus A7J laptop audio can sound good! Dell’s product pages boast of the XPS M1710’s audio capabilities, so I’m eager to give it a try.
Putting both the Dell XPS M1710 and the Asus A7J side-by-side and playing the exact same audio samples, I can say that the M1710 is able to produce a superb sound stage using the 4 speakers and the “subwoofer” on the base. Music and movies are immersive and have a surround effect thanks to the forward and top firing speakers. However, in terms of sound quality, the M1710 is a bit too metallic in sound reproduction which is typical of speakers that are much too small to reproduce a full dynamic range. The subwoofer on the base of the M1710 did little to improve the bass or deminish the overly bright treble.
The above two pictures show the small speakers on the M1710. The first picture shows the speaker grill that is barely 2 keys big. The second picture is a picture of the front firing speaker with the plastic grill removed to reveal the speaker itself. The black screw on the right gives you a sense of scale.
The Asus A7J in comparison gives a fuller sound with more bass definition without the added “subwoofer”. It is perhaps a bit unfair to compare the M1710 to the A7J because the speakers on the A7J are much bigger. Bigger speakers produce a wider range of sound and the A7J is superior in that respect.
The audio on the Dell M1710 is powered by a SigmaTel STAC9200 HD audio codec chip (aka. “Azalia” or Intel HD Audio) which means you get the joys of Dolby Digital using the the SPDIF coax connection on the bundled dongle. Combine HD Audio with the preinstalled Windows Media Center OS and you have yourself a mobile media center that you can watch by itself or output to an HD-capable display.