I have a serious crush on 11.6" budget ultraportable notebooks. The genre is dominated by Intel's CULV Core 2 platform, which offers snappy performance, excellent battery life, and largely lousy integrated graphics. Compromise is the name of the game at the budget end of the spectrum, and squeezing a discrete graphics processor into a thin-and-light 11.6" chassis is a challenge that few notebook makers seem interested in tackling.
Thankfully, notebook makers don't have to resort to discrete graphics with AMD's new Nile platform. Dell is the latest PC maker to tap the platform with the Inspiron M101z, which comes with an Athlon II Neo K125 or K325 CPU, Radeon HD 4200 series graphics, an 11.6" 1366x768 display, and a 6-cell battery that purportedly delivers 6.5 hours of run time. Dell's UK site is already taking orders. The system isn't listed on Dell's U.S. site at the moment, but Engadget suggests the M101z will sell for between $400 and $450 stateside.
The Inspiron's 0.95-1.38" thickness is a little on the chubby side, but the system weighs less than 3.5 lbs and has a full size keyboard. Factor in four color options and "smudge-free palm rests in brushed metallic finish," and this looks like an intriguing option for students and anyone else seeking a budget ultraportable that isn't stuck with one of Intel's last-gen Graphics Media Accelerators.
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