Alienware m11x Heartbreak And First Impressions

Dell Adamo, Alienware m11x, Asus 1000HA lined upSo I must admit that when Dell announced an 11″ sized Alienware laptop starting at just $799 – I was sold.  The fact that I got an additional 10% off from work made it an even sweeter deal!

Rumored to launch Feb 5th, only the pre-order page launched – though a few days early. So I was forced to wait for the ship date of March 1st or so it seemed – until two days ago Dell informed me that my new toy had shipped out and I would get it a week early.  As the hours past slowly waiting for the FedEx man that would never come – heartbreak set it.  Three conversations with Dell later – turns out they lost my laptop between the factory floor and shipping door.

“Oh that’s what that box in the hallway was…”

Anyway, delayed a day but no worse for the wear, I received my m11x today.  I’ve never been one for unboxings and really everyone knows what it looks like already.  The real question is how does it perform – not just in gaming but as anything from a portable work horse to a video entertainment device.  A full review and comparison to the Dell Adamo 13″ (another recent acquisition when it’s price dropped below a grand) is in the works but first off some first impressions.

  • One thing that was not completely clear to me beforehand was the alien head on the lid – did it light up or not?  Well, it does but unfortunately it can not be controlled by fancy alien color control system.  So a partial victory there.  The rest of the unit you can color change to your hearts content.
  • The keyboard is quite different than both my desktop’s Sidewinder X6 keyboard and my netbook’s keyboard in feel, but I would describe it as “nice”.  I would have preferred full sized arrow keys, however, as I use them often when my using a notebook in my lap and surfing the web.
  • The screen which looks great keeps resetting the brightness level to the lowest setting even though I’m on the “balanced” power profile.  This could be some alienware setting I’m missing.
  • The sharp edge of the unit is a bit harsh on my wrists as I’m typing this post up.
  • The mouse buttons are smushy.  It’s not that they have a “bad” click but it is a much deeper click than one would expect. In fact it’s probably the deepest click buttons I’ve seen in the last several years.  Now it’s probably only depressing a mm more than normal but it feels more like 1/4″

The unit weight is interesting.  It is by far the heaviest of the three notebooks pictured, but it doesn’t seem much bulkier. I account for this because two things.  First you brain expects a certain weight based on the size of an object and second unbalanced weight seems much heavier to hold in your hand.  The 1000HA netbook is much smaller than the other machines but not much lighter, also it is back heavy because of the battery.  Both of these things make it “surprisingly” heavy. The Adamo is both larger and thinner so it really messes with your mind.  Some times it feels  “surprisingly” heavy sometimes  “surprisingly” light.  This has continued over a few weeks with it.  Both Dell’s are extremely well balanced weight wise.  So the m11x doesn’t feel light by any means but it doesn’t feel heavy either.  The chart below is based on my actual devices measured on a scale with 1 gram accuracy.

Dell  Adamo, Alienware m11x, Asus 1000HA stacked up

Alienware m11x 4.48lbs
Dell Adamo 4.05lbs
Asus 1000HA 3.16lbs

It doesn’t look it but the notebooks in the pic are lined up both in the back and left of the devices.

One Really Big Tree

Photographer Nick Nichols spent a year planning the nearly impossible: a top-to-bottom photograph of a 300-foot-tall redwood tree, now the centerpiece of the October issue of National Geographic Magazine.