First reviewed by CNET in February 2005, we recently took another look at the Dell Inspiron 6000. The original configuration we reviewed sold for about $1,700 back in February; in this review we take a look at a significantly less expensive $972 configuration.
The Dell Inspiron 6000 is a midsize laptop with an entertainment slant. The design is quite similar to that found on a number of other Dell laptops, including the Inspiron 9300 and the XPS M140. The notebook is light silver with a white trim, and it measures about 1.5 inches thick, 14 inches across, and just less than 10.5 inches deep. The keyboard is firm and adequately responsive, and it's big enough to work on comfortably. Below the keyboard is a nice-size touch pad with two big mouse buttons. Our test unit weighed 6.6 pounds, or 7.5 pounds with the compact AC adapter--about average for a midsize and not quite light enough for comfortable travel. Overall, the case feels fairly sturdy, though the lid gives quite a bit when you push down on it. We like the silver media-control buttons that line the case's front edge. They're accessible even when the notebook's lid is closed, and you can use them to adjust the volume (or mute) and toggle through tracks on a CD or scenes on a DVD. Two stereo speakers also sit along the Inspiron 6000's front edge; they were louder and clearer than your average laptop speakers.
Our test unit featured a 15.4-inch wide-screen display with a 1,280x800 native resolution. The display looked a little dim to us, particularly around the edges, and we left it at its brightest setting; we're keeping an eye on the recent rash of customer complaints about Dell's notebook screens, but we didn't notice any significant problems with the Inspiron 6000's.
Connectivitywise, the Inspiron 6000 offers just about everything an average home user will need. You get a headphone and microphone jack; a Secure Digital card reader; an S-Video output for connecting to a TV; VGA out to connect to a monitor; four USB 2.0 ports (two on the right edge, two in back); a four-pin, unpowered FireWire port; and one PCI Express card slot, for which there are no real applications yet. You also get modem and Ethernet connections, as well as built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. Our test unit was configured with a handy double-layer, multiformat DVD burner, which added $150 to the overall cost of the machine. Dell doesn't include much in the way of software; aside from Microsoft Windows XP Home, you also get WordPerfect and some basic photo-editing software.
Our review unit was built around a 1.6GHz Pentium M 725 processor and 512MB of DDR2 RAM; the system's integrated graphics borrow up to 128MB of system memory. With a 60GB hard drive, we got twice as much storage as from the original unit, but Dell cut back on the optical drive; we got a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo in place of a double-layer DVDÂ±RW. The new, less expensive unit also had a six-cell battery instead of a nine-cell.