Dell recently upgraded its line of mainstream laptops, adding the highly customizable Dell Inspiron 1150 to its stable. At an impressively low $799, this laptop is surprisingly cheap and can be configured with an Intel Celeron chip, a Mobile Intel Pentium 4 processor, and one of two flavors of integrated wireless.
Upside: The Dell Inspiron 1150 offers an exceptional array of options, many of them more often found on higher-priced laptops. Dell lets you choose from two screen sizes, 14.1- or 15-inch; a Celeron at 2.4GHz, 2.5GHz, or 2.6GHz speeds; a Mobile Intel Pentium 4 in 2.4GHz or 2.66GHz iterations; and a choice of the Dell Wireless 1350 802.11b/g or the Dell Wireless 1450 dual-band 802.11a/b/g wireless setup. Memory can be configured from 128MB to 1GB, and hard drive options range from 20GB to 60GB.
Downside: The Dell Inspiron 1150 ranges in thickness from 1.75 inches in the front to 1.89 inches at the back and tips the scales at more than 7 pounds, so it's not a laptop for the travel happy. And if you want to swap out your media module for maximum optimization--say, to replace your plain-Jane CD-ROM drive with a DVD-burner--look elsewhere. The Inspiron 1150's drive is fixed.
Outlook: Dell has created some of the best cheap laptops on the market, and the highly customizable Inspiron 1150 looks to be a solid addition. Check back for a full review.