As larger laptops go, Dell's new 17-inch Inspiron 17 has the potential to impress. But be warned: the base price of £369 nets you what is essentially a netbook in a massive chassis.

On the plus side, this is a reasonably attractive, if budget-focused, 16:9 widescreen laptop that comes with a bunch of colour options. You can snag it for under £400, including VAT and delivery, in a configuration that includes a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard disk, Windows Vista Home Basic (eugh) and bog-standard integrated graphics.

But that's a crap config. Bumping up the price to around £550 gets you a far more attractive model, and one that's still excellent value. This includes the full Windows Vista Home Premium OS, a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and far more suitable 3GB of RAM.

Bear in mind you'll get a free upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium as well, when it's released in October.

Now for some expensive fun. Because we like fun and it's your money we're spending. Maxing out the configuration snags you a Blu-ray disc drive, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk, a 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, faster wireless networking with 802.11n Wi-Fi, and dedicated ATI graphics. But that'll cost you a not-fun £1,650. We're pretty sure you can get someone whacked for that.

You can configure and order your own now from Dell's UK Web site. We'll have a full review soon. In the meantime, check out various photos over the page.

The Inspiron 17 seen here in red.
A 1.3-megapixel webcam is built-in. Attractive video-chat companions not included.
Ports around the left include two USB 2.0 sockets, Ethernet and VGA output.
The entire range of colours.
Seen here in green.
And now in a delicious blue!
Our favourite: the black.
Closed up.


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