The tanklike XPS M1730 may be the first Dell laptop that obviously has been influenced by subsidiary company Alienware. At first glimpse the glossy black plastic case (you can also choose white, blue, or red), patterned to look like the surface of a liquid, reminded us of the Alienware Aurora mALX we reviewed more than a year ago. And while the M1730’s lid includes the familiar XPS branding from previous iterations, Dell has added a glowing logo as well as an LED-lit sculpted ridge that echoes Alienware’s sculpted alien eyes. Also glowing: the touchpad and speaker vents, which can be programmed with your choice of 16 color shades and four light effects (or turned off, if you’re the ascetic type). It’s all a bit over the top, which frankly we like in a $4,000 machine. What we don’t like in such an expensive machine: creaking hinges and a squeaky plastic sound that we heard every time we moved the lid. (Dell assures us that this problem has been remedied since our early review unit rolled off the production line.)
As you’d expect with any entertainment-oriented desktop replacement, games and movies look phenomenal on the XPS M1730’s 17-inch wide-screen display. The 1,920×1,200 resolution provides sharp image detail, while the glossy finish adds depth and richness to colors with only a slight glare in moderate-light environments. Above the display sits a 2-megapixel Webcam and dual array digital microphones for video chats.
With the XPS M1730, Dell adds a 10-key numeric keypad–handy for controlling games–next to the full-size keyboard. As with previous versions, you can turn on keyboard illumination when computing in the dark. For the first time, the laptop also incorporates a built-in Logitech GamePanel LCD display above the keyboard; four buttons beneath the LCD let you navigate menus to toggle between system status, in-game statistics, and other vital information on the 0.8-inch-high screen. Also above the keyboard sits a button to launch Dell’s MediaDirect software, which lets you play CDs and DVDs and access other media files without booting the system. You can control media playback via a row of volume and media buttons, located on the laptop’s front edge for easy access when the lid is closed.
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