A closer look at Dell's XPS M2010 portable desktop

Hollywood (CA) - Dell's new XPS M2010 portable desktop could become a tremendous bragging rights machine for casual LAN gamers and Starbucks wireless surfers. The collapsible entertainment PC was launched yesterday amidst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. We took a closer look in a hands on demonstration and have to admit that it leaves quite an impression. Extra: slide show

The Dell launch event was held in the Roosevelt Hotel, just across the famous Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. While walking to the hotel, we dodged a Star Wars Storm Trooper, Charlie Chaplin, Batman and Spiderman on the way to the event - something which is quite ordinary for the part of town we were in. What wasn't ordinary was the XPS M2010. We had seen the computer before as concept systems at CES and the Game Developer's Conference; now, the concept has evolved into an actual and innovative product you can buy.

Ro Parra, senior vice president, Americas at Dell, described the M2010 as a computer users could watch a movie on and then "take it to the office for a presentation." As the name suggests, the M2010 has a 20.1" LCD panel, which appeared to be uniformly bright and showed excellent display quality when viewing from an angle. The screen folds down and latches onto a keyboard base which allows the unit to be carried around.

A tilting webcam is embedded in the top of the LCD panel and a multiple microphone array allows for webcam chats with significantly improved sound, according to Dell. Eight speakers are also embedded into the screen, which complements the subwoofer built into the base.

Dell officials told us that the computer uses laptop-type components from the graphics chips to the hard drives. Two drives can be installed and customers have the option of mirroring for redundancy. There are several USB ports and a single Firewire port along the sides.

While Dell calls the M2010 a "portable" machine, we found it quite hefty at 18 pounds. The equally enormous power supply probably weighs around 1.5 to 2 pounds. Dell representatives told us that the M2010 should be plugged during regular operation; under battery operation, the device is expected to run for about 3 hours.

We spent some time playing with the system. On our first few tries, the articulated screen was a little awkward to move and did not seat flush with the base. However, overall we are impressed with the fake leather finish of the chassis along with the real leather handle. Overall material choices are appropriate for a computer that starts at around $3500. Fit and finish - the screen of this particular unit left aside - was excellent. The screen is big and bright enough to enjoy a movie or a quick World of Warcraft battleground session.

Dell aims the XPS M2010 at the high-ticket consumer or the corporate executive. The computer could also fit well for people who regularly do presentations to small groups where regular laptop's screen would be too small and a projector would be too big.

The system can be ordered immediately, however, Dell officials told us that it would take several weeks until customers actually receive the computer. Base models come with a 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor, a 256 MB ATI X1800 mobile graphics chip, 1 GB of system meory and a 80 GB hard drive. If you have some extra money to spend, the M2010 can be equipped with a 2.16 GHz dual-core CPU, up to 4 GB DDR2-667 memory, 240 GB of hard drive space, a TV tuner, an EVDO-based wireless broadband card. Fully optioned, the M2010 will top $8000.

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