User Rating: Excellent
Ease of Use:
Quality of Tech Support:
Pros:Options Galore, up to 1.2 PIII-M processor, powerful enough against desktops, Eye-Popping Screen, Stylish
The Bottom Line: Excellent notebook overall that I prefer over the Inspiron 8100. It combines power, portability, and battery life into a total package!
Although I am really writing about the latest incarnation of the Inspiron 4xxx line, the 4100, many things apply to the 4000 model as well. The 4000 model in a middle of the line notebook that was powerful enough to be a desktop replacement but much easier to carry than Dell's flagship Inspiron 8xxx line. With the 4100 series, I feel that this is really Dell's flagship model instead of the 8100 Inspiron series.
Recommend this product?
What I'm reviewing here is my father's recently purchased Inspiron 4100 (which I actually made the order for)... also at a time Dell had a few glitches with customization of the Inspiron 4100 line. What I mean by this is that the new Radeon Mobility 7500 chipset was available to the 4100 line (and currently is no longer available for the 4100 line but only for the 8100 line. The Radeon Mobility 7500 is NOT the same as the Mobility Radeon chipset).
Originally, the 4000 series notebook consisted of having the highest end Intel notebook processors with a set video card in the notebook. The 4000 was a decent notebook that weighed significantly less than the 8000 series notebook by anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 lbs. (based on what you put into the drive bays and carried in your case.). They were not ultraportable computers but were much easier to lug around than the 8000 series computers as provided almost as much computer power. The 4000 series notebooks had decent battery life but lagged in the power of its video card as a result of both this and its portability. 4000 series notebook can still be purchased from Dell especially in the refurbished section of Dell.
The 4000 came with a 8 MB video card from ATI that handled DVD playback rather well and handled graphics decently... 3D games sufferred on this system however. It was good enough for the average computer user who wanted portability without sacrificing too much power. I felt that the 4000 did a remarkable job at that. The 4000 also included stylings from the 8000 series notebooks with user changable wrist pads and front color panel... all for personalization. You had 2 SODIMMs to place memory in (I think up to 512MB) so that really wasn't a problem. The 4000 had a target audience that expanded to other target audiences. Needless to say, the 4000 was a great hit for Dell.
The 4000 and 4100 both perform very well from the processor standpoint. The 4000 had excellent performance but fell short of Dell's flagship notebook at that time... the 8000. The current 4100 is a completely different story however. The 4100 performs as well as the 8100 when similarly equipped. The 4100 can be outfitted with a Pentium III-M 866 MHz, 1.12 GHz, 1.2 GHz processor and up to a 32 MB GeForce2Go video card (cheaper options are the Radeon Mobility and 16MB GeForce2Go). Screen options are limited to 14.1" but you get to pick if you want XGA, Super XGA (1400x1050 resolution), or Ultra XGA (the best resolution with a similar large increase in your base cost). On top of that, the 4100 is running with the latest chipsets from Intel... allowing full use of the powersaving modes of the Pentium III-M chipset. I haven't had the battery drain in less than 3 hours so far and have gotten on average 3 1/2 hours of uptime(realize that I'm using the Radeon Mobility 7500 video card which also has a powersaving mode unlike the Radeon Mobility and GeForce2Go video cards). The 4100 easily keep pace with the Inspiron 8100 unit.
With the Radeon Mobility 7500 video card, DVD playback was excellent. None of that filmy appearance on flesh tones that I noted with the Inspiron 8100 running a GeForce2Go video card (read my Inspiron 8100 epinion through my profile page). Games also ran with few problems on my notebook while on battery power. Max Payne ran very smoothly on the battery. Again, the Mobility 7500 video card was no longer an option for the 4100 at the time I write this. Hopefully, they put the Radeon 7500 as an video option again.
Portability on this notebook is also very good. With the battery and a DVD/CD-RW drive in the bay, I was running about 6 lbs with the case and an extra battery. This is much easier to carry around than the Inspiron 8100 model although not as easy as a subnotebook or ultraportable notebook.
Like most of Dell's notebooks... there are tons of options. Even the wristrests can be customized. The 56k modem and a 10/100 network port can be included on the system for a very small fee instead of adding a PC Card for those functions. You can choose from a good selection of memory setups and hard drive sizes as well. Memory is upgradable to 1 Gig! You can also loose the optical drive and stick in a second battery. Remember the battery lasted at least 3 hours already! Unlike the 8100, you only have one media bay to play with rather than two.
The 4100 is an excellent notebook... power enough to replace your desktop and light enough to carry it anywhere you want to go. It has replaced the 8100 as my favorite desktop. The two weak points are the sound (Toshiba's 2805 series of notebooks have set the standard on sound with their integrated subwoofer... yes you read that right, integrated subwoofer on the notebook!) and the amount of heat the 4100 generates. Likely due to the smaller size of the notebook versus the Inspiron 8100, the 4100 seems to run hotter than the 8100... so be careful placing it on your lap for more than an hour... heck, even 45 minutes! Defintely, the Inspiron 4100 should be on your short list!
With notebook prices so low, getting a 4000 model isn't worth it with the 4100 right beside it. If you have a 4000 already, it will still serve you well for several more years... there isn't a major reason to upgrade yet.
Read all comments (2)
Amount Paid (US$): 1400
Operating System: Windows
Processor: Intel Pentium III
Processor speed: 801-900
Internal Storage: CD-RW and DVD
Hard Drive (GB): 13-20