Dell hasn’t launched a lot of 11-inch laptops but one of the few models is this M101z part of the company’s Inspiron lineup. When it came out it had a starting price of $449 and improved many of the things that went wrong with previous models. It comes in various bold colors and it has a sleek forward hinge design. Other goodies include a dual core processor from AMD and some impressive stereo speakers.
As far as the design is concerned, this ultraportable looks like a shrunken edition of the company’s 14-inch Inspiron 14R since it borrows the same design of the hinge, while the svelte profile has been maintained, tapering one inch in the front to 1.4 inches at the back. One of the versions of this model wears a Peacock Blue lid that has a Jax pattern (paisley-like). Once you open it you’ll notice that the 11.6-inch display is surrounded by a glossy black bezel, while the laptop’s lower part combines an island-style keyboard that has a black finish with the gunmetal gray plastic deck. Since it weighs only 3.4 pounds, it is quite easy to carry it while you travel so this is truly an ultraportable that you can take just about anywhere.
You probably know that Dell’s older 11z model was not very good in terms of ergonomics, but this situation has changed with the M101z as it has been fitted with a chiclet-style keyboard that has consists of nicely separated keys which are capable of providing a springy feedback. The previous 11z model had an extremely cramped keyboard which was quite frustrating to use for an extensive period of time. We do have to mention that the arrow keys on the M101z are a little bit smaller than they should be but this isn’t a major issue. You will certainly appreciate that Dell has decided to invert the function row keys so you have direct access to volume control, display brightness and other similar settings. The user can also toggle Wi-Fi, check the battery life, control music playback and also output the display.
The previous 11z had integrated buttons for the touchpad while the M101z features two separate left and right mouse buttons. The bad news is that these are somewhat small and they feel quite mushy. Even so, this touchpad is way better than the one that the 11z comes with. It measures 3.3 x 1.5 inches and provides just the right amount of finger resistance, while multitouch gestures are performed effortlessly.
You probably know that the ultraportables which are powered by AMD have the tendency of getting quite hot so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the Dell Inspiron M101z is not an exception to this rule as the touchpad can reach a temperature of 105 degrees, while near the vent the temperature hits 104 degrees. Even so, it shouldn’t bother you while using the notebook on your lap for several hours.
It has been fitted with an 11.6-inch screen that has a glossy finish and a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. This offers colorful images and gets quite bright so we consider it to be more than suitable for watching 720p movies. The movie experience is also enhanced by the stereo speakers which have been installed on the laptop’s front lip and benefit from the SRS Premium Sound technology. The volume level is very impressive and the good thing about it is that even at a high volume the sound will not get distorted, managing to remain very clear.
On the left spine of this ultraportable from Dell you will have access to the HDMI port, USB 2.0 port, a 3-in-1 memory card reader and the Ethernet jack, while the right side holds two additional USB ports, power jack and the headphone & microphone jacks. On the back of the M101z sit the Kensington lock slot and the VGA port.
Also on board is a webcam which comes bundled with the Webcam Central software that includes a lot of effects and scenes that you can use, as well as several avatars. With this application you can record videos and after that share them via YouTube, Photobucket or e-mail.
At the heart of the Dell Inspiron M101z is an AMD Athlon II Neo K235 processor running at a clock speed of 1.30 GHz, together with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. It offers enough hardware power to handle streaming HD content, as well as word processing and surfing the Internet. For storage it has a regular 320GB SATA HDD that spins at 5,400 rpm and it boots Windows 7 Premium in approximately 60 seconds. The graphics department is handled by the integrated (and modest) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4425 which can score about 1,300 points in 3DMark06. This integrated GPU can play World of Warcraft at a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels at 58 fps while at the laptop’s native resolution it runs the game at an unplayable 9 FPS.
The laptop comes bundled with a generous list of Dell branded software, including the Dell Dock which will provide the user with shortcuts to music, e-mail, photos, videos and parental controls. Also on board is DataSafe Online as well as the aforementioned Webcam Central software. The list doesn’t end here as you also get the Syncables Desktop software for syncing music, video, photos and other type of data with a computer. On that hard drive you’ll also get to use Skype, Cozi Family Calendar, as well as the well-known Windows Live program suite which includes Movie Make Photo Gallery, Messenger, Mail and others as well. We should also mention that Dell has decided to include the WildTangent Orb hub for your casual gaming needs, but most of these games can be played from Facebook.
Dell has equipped this 11-inch ultraportable with a 6-cell battery that during LAPTOP Battery Test can last for almost five hours. This test as most of you know consists of web surfing over a wireless network. It is a good result but nowadays we have ultraportables which can last for up to 7-8 hours.