The Dell Inspiron M101z has its strong points. The display is frankly jaw-dropping for a laptop that starts at under $500. The keyboard is relatively large and comfortable to use. The performance is adequate, as well, and easily exceeds what you’d expect from a netbook of similar size. The M101z also nails some of the details. The chassis is solid and feels tightly constructed, the available connectivity options are reasonable for a laptop of this price, and issues like heat and fan noise are well controlled.
Even so, Dell hasn’t hit this one out of the park. The low clock speed of the dual-core processor shows up in benchmarks and, while not obvious in day-to-day usage, is likely to be noticeable if you want to convert some audio files into a different format or play a game. Yet the battery life of the M101z is constricted. It is far from unusable, as I mentioned earlier, but it is also far from the platform’s maximum potential.
I enjoyed my time with the Dell M101z, but as I often find to be the case, the M101z stumbles not because it is bad but instead because there are other products that are slightly better. Still, the M101z’s fabulous display and great audio does make a case for itself. For example, students should consider this laptop because it is pleasurable to use in a lecture hall as in a dorm room. Buyers who need maximum battery life, however, will need to consider a different ultraportable.
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