Dell XPS M140 Laptop - First Impressions

My new Dell XPS M140 Laptop arrived a little under 48 hours ago, and so far I love it. I've used several Dell Laptops in the past for work, but this is the first one that I've owned. In fact, it's the first Laptop period that I've owned. Heather has had a Gateway 200-ARC Laptop for a couple of years, and I've increasingly found myself using it so that I don't have to disappear upstairs to my office when I want to be online. And my Dell PC was beginning to show its age, so I've gone for a desktop replacement.

Actually the Dell XPS M140 is classified a Thin & Light, although as the Dell XPS M140 CNET Review points out it's pushing it on weight. Especially with the nine-cell battery which I chose. This was a concern for me, because I've become accustomed to easily grabbing a laptop in one hand as I move from room to room following my daughter. Heather's Gateway weighs in at 4lbs and my current work Laptop, a Dell Latitude D600, at 5lbs. The XPS M140 is closer to 6lbs, but I'm happy to report I've not found that an issue.

One of my pet peeves with the Gateway 200 ARC is that the keyboard has the special function key in the lower left of the keyboard, with the control key one in from that. This is the reverse of the Dell I use for work - and I think of most keyboards on the market. This would be a mild annoyance if holding the Fn key down and hitting left arrow twice in quick succession didn't cause the laptop to freeze and require a hard reset. On a more normal keyboard layout those keys would be Ctrl+Left, of course, to skip back a word (something I do frequently to correct my typing errors). It might seem ridiculous, but that single thing ruled out Gateway laptops for me.

A concern I had going with a laptop sight unseen was that there would be some other form factor issue that became an irritant. So far I'm happy to report no such problem. A couple of things are still tripping me up a little, but I expect to get used to them. The buttons below the touchpad are a little more sunken than on my D600, and the button to eject the DVD drive is a little tricky to hit. The latter is probably a good thing in general. The former I'm already pretty much used too.

Another worry was that the XPS M140 would exhibit the same heating issue that the D600 does. By midday the left hand palm rest on the D600 is so hot as to be uncomfortable. The XPS M140 doesn't seem to have this problem. The palm rests get warm, and the fan on the left hand side ejects a pretty intense heat at times, but in general I've found it very comfortable, and I spent more than 8 hours on it pretty consistently yesterday.

All the reviews out there mention the big stuff. Good quality WXGA screen. Fast. Incredibly good battery life. I was a little worried on that front when I first used it unplugged yesterday. Windows XP reported that I only had about 2 hours of battery life. But 2 hours later I looked again, and now it thought I had about 3 hours. I guess it took a while to adjust.

The multimedia slot is great. Plenty of USB ports. I haven't tried the DVD writer yet, but it's dual layer. I haven't experimented with much of the Windows XP Media Center features either, although having volume and mute buttons exposed on the case is convenient. The D600 has this too, but not the Gateway 200 ARC.

In summary, I'm extremely happy with it, and highly recommend it (5 stars). We'll see in a couple of months if I've found anything that irritates me.