Alienware Area-51 m15x: The Newcomer
Anyone accustomed to the toy-like trappings of former Alienware systems will be shocked to see the Area-51 m15x gaming notebook. It is now available with only a small company symbol adorning an otherwise clean lid, with the “Skullcap Design” optional. But the m15x holds an even bigger surprise for mobile gaming enthusiasts: its lighter weight.
The term “bigger surprise” is almost an oxymoron, as the unit has been downsized compared to many similarly-equipped units, to better fit a mobile lifestyle. This doesn’t mean the user should expect a lower quality gaming experience, though, as an optional 1920x1200 pixel panel lets the 15.4” diagonal screen reach resolutions that normally would have required a larger display.
Even the interior has been cleaned up stylistically, having only a few special feature buttons, a one-piece touchpad button, and only the lighted Alienware brand name distinguishing it from less-equipped competitors. The optional lighted keyboard adds convenience in dark rooms, but without the gaudy glare of translucent keys.
The left side panel features a power jack, one Gigabit Ethernet and two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and access to the Matshita (Panasonic) BD-MLT UJ-220 Blu-Ray Burner. All of the connectors are located far back enough to make them easy to use with the unit on one’s lap. The Panasonic BRD (Blu-Ray Disk) optical drive is a spare-no-expense option, providing BD-RE and BD-R writes up to 2x speed.
The right side panel features a mini card reader, an ExpressCard slot, HDMI output, USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394b (FireWire 800) ports, and a Kensington Lock hole. The ports are located near the rear, which makes looping the cables away from a mouse easier.
Of particular interest is the HDMI output, which allows easy connection to modern wide-screen displays. Though typically used in home-theater applications, an increasing number of desktop monitors also support this new standard. Anyone limited to the older DVI standard can find inexpensive HDMI to DVI cables at several online stores.