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First Take: Dell Inspiron 6400

The Inspiron 6400 is a mid-range notebook with an entry-level price tag. It'll handle most applications nicely, but it's a little on the heavy side and isn't suitable for gaming.
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Written by Asher Moses on
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Dell Inspiron 6400

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The Inspiron 6400 is a mid-range notebook with an entry-level price tag. It'll handle most applications nicely, but it's a little on the heavy side and isn't suitable for gaming.
Dell Inspiron 6400
Upside
With a starting price of just AU$1598, the Dell Inspiron 6400 sits towards the top of the entry-level notebook category. Yet its mid-range feature-set defies this market segmentation -- the AU$1598 model packs an Intel Core Duo T2300 processor, 512MB DDR2 memory and a 60GB hard drive. Since Dell builds its machines to order, users that have more money to burn can choose up to a Core Duo T2500 processor, 2GB of memory and a 100GB hard drive.

Dell touts the 6400 as being a "mobile entertainment" unit, but this statement needs to be qualified. The notebook can be equipped with an 8x dual-layer DVD-RW drive (albeit the AU$1598 model is limited to a 24x CD-RW/DVD combo drive), so it can of course be used for DVD playback. However, gaming isn't an option, as the notebook is hindered by an integrated Intel graphics chip. Further, the 15.4-inch widescreen display is adequate for film viewing but its nothing compared to a 17-inch model.

That said, there are a couple of handy multimedia features that aren't typically found on cheaper notebooks. For starters, the 9400 is equipped with a 5-in-1 memory card reader (MS, MS Pro, SD/SDIO, MMC and xD), while TV-out support is provided by an S-Video port. There's even a Firewire connection for hooking up your digital video camcorder, while an ExpressCard slot ensures support for the next generation of notebook expansion cards. Finally, the 6400 makes use of Dell's MediaDirect instant-on technology, allowing for one-button access to digital media stored on the computer itself or on attached devices.

A weight of 2.8kg puts it in between an ultra-portable and a desktop replacement as far as portability is concerned. It's not a burden to carry around over short distances, but those after true mobility should ideally seek out a sub-2kg model.

Wireless connectivity options include the mandatory 802.11a/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but there's no infrared.

Downside
As mentioned above, gamers need not apply, since the integrated graphics chip won't provide anything close to playable frame rates. Granted, this is to be expected from such a low-priced offering.

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Additionally, the 2.8kg heft is far from feather-weight, and you'll definitely start grumbling after walking with it for 20 minutes or more. It's fine for shorter distances, but true mobility can only be found in a sub-2kg offering.

Outlook
The Inspiron 6400 is a mid-range notebook with an entry-level price tag. It'll handle most applications nicely, but it's a little on the heavy side and isn't suitable for gaming.

Dell Inspiron 6400
Company: Dell
Price: AU$1,598

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