The Good Good battery life; moderate price; lots of configuration options.
The Bad Very dense screen resolution; moderate speed; one-year standard warranty.
The Bottom Line The thin-and-light Inspiron 500m's many configuration options mean that you can match it to your needs whether you take it on business trips or park it at home.
Dell Inspiron 500M
Intel's Centrino technology promises longer battery life, and the new Dell Inspiron 500m, a "pure" Centrino thin-and-light for the home user, keeps this promise. The configuration that CNET Labs tested /0-1027-405-21218321-3.html>ran for 3.5 hours on its relatively small battery--not stunning by Pentium M standards, but still it's respectable. And although the Inspiron 500m (little sibling to the Inspiron 600m) is unspectacular in other ways, it's nevertheless an affordable, well-crafted thin-and-light. If you don't want to invest a fortune in your notebook and can live with some of the trade-offs, the Inspiron 500m delivers plenty of working time and adequate performance in a comfortable, capable, Wi-Fi-equipped package. The Inspiron 500m has an understated look, with discreetly rounded edges and a 12.25-by-10.25-by-1.5-inch footprint that's neither ostentatiously big nor post-modern tiny. The 5.4-pound base weight is also acceptable, and it's right in range for that of a thin-and-light. The front edge has no features at all other than the lid latch, while the right side houses only an optical bay holding a plain-Jane DVD-ROM drive. (Stereo speakers hide behind the front edge and produce average sound for a notebook.) For $120 more, the media bay can also hold a DVD/CD-RW drive; a second battery for the bay costs $129.
The left edge has just a solitary Type II PC Card slot, an infrared port, and two audio jacks. The back edge is more crowded, with two USB 2.0 ports; a port each for S-Video, modem and Ethernet, parallel and monitor; and even a serial port. The model that we tested had no floppy drive and no writable-media drive, so backup capabilities are restricted to a USB keychain or an external USB drive, unless you spring for the DVD/CD-RW drive.
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