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(Pocket-lint) - Dell has been successfully touting its gaming laptops for the last couple of years, taking on all comers both here and in the States and pretty much made the market its own – so much so that it’s even bought the main competitor, Alienware.

The premise behind this victory has been to offer cutting-edge gaming machines at a reasonable price. So it’s with a little dismay the first lightweight gamer, the XPS M1210, comes with a rather mainstream Nvidia GeForce Go 7400, which is fine for standard games but won’t allow you to play the likes of Prey, except in reduced resolution and who wants that?

You’ll still get a decent frame rate out of less demanding games, but we wouldn’t recommend this setup for LAN parties or a serious gaming machine, as it’ll soon feel dated.

The chassis has a neat little design with a retro style of its own. You can’t fault the build quality here, something we’ve been vocal about with Dell notebooks in the past. The case is solid with plenty of protection behind the screen. The keyboard is well spaced and the keys proved comfortable to use, with a fair degree of travel. The touchpad is small and deeply recessed. Fortunately, the mouse buttons are flush with the case, which makes them easier to access. Overall, we were impressed with how smooth the navigation of the M1210 was. As befitting the smaller chassis size, you’ll find a 12.1-inch Super-TFT panel. This is a widescreen display with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution, so images are crisp and sharp without being too small.

With this in mind, it’s better to view the M1210 as a mini-multimedia notebook, where it excels. Naturally, Dell has installed Windows Media Centre Edition, so you’ll have access to all your media files. Sadly, you won’t find a TV tuner built-in but there is a 1.3-megapixel webcam, which sits above the panel and can be rotated 180-degrees.

Weighing in at 2.1kg, it’s portable and while it’s battery life, we got less than 3 hours from the standard battery, won’t keep you watching movies on the move for long, you can always get the larger battery (£95), which offers twice the life.

Powered by an Intel Core Duo T2400 chip, which runs at 1.83GHz, and supported by 1024MB of DDR2 memory, there is plenty to recommend here. The 100GB hard drive means you can store plenty of media files but if that isn’t enough, you can use the built-in DVD rewriter to back up your files. In use, things simply fly with this specification, making this a powerhouse that can be used for video as well as audio editing.

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If you approach this notebook as a lightweight media centre rather than a portable gamer, you won’t go too wrong. After all, you simply can’t get a more powerful GPU in so small a machine. With that in mind, we really liked this machine, especially with the extra battery, so you can do more when out and about.

Writing by Mike Browne. Originally published on 14 August 2006.