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Alienware's Area-51 m15x lands in the lab

Alienware's two new laptops, the high-end Area-51 m15x and Area-51 m17x.

The Area-51 m15x's cool backlit keyboard.

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you some exclusive pics of Alienware's two new laptops, the high-end Area-51 m15x and Area-51 m17x, which impressed us with their updated designs, cutting-edge components, and imaginative lighting systems (seriously--lots of lights on these things).

While these two laptops probably won't be shipping until mid-January, we just got our hands on a preproduction unit, which, while not exactly final shipping hardware, has both the lighting control system and an Nvidia GeForce 8800M GTX video card--the first laptop we've gotten our hands on with one of those.

We're in a green mood today.

Using the lighting control panel, you can assign different colors to the backlit keyboard, keyboard tray indicators, touch pad outline, skull logo, and sides of the display panel. The touch pad itself is just a touch-sensitive section of the wrist rest and made of the same material as the rest of the keyboard tray--and with the internal lights off, you see only the keyboard and a power button--no touch pad, no status lights. With the lights turned on, the touch pad is outlined by a colored light--a very cool effect, but one that might take a little getting used to, as we kept running our fingers off the side of the touch pad accidentally, because of the lack of any tactile feedback.

We're currently loading up some games to put the m15x through its paces, and we'll let you know how the new Nvidia 8800 handles the current crop of system-crushing games, including Crysis and Unreal Tournament III.