Dell Inspiron 6000(d)
While the Inspiron 6000 effectively replaces the value and midrange products in the 5160 and 8600 line, the Inspiron 9300 covers the higher end portion of the spectrum. The 8600, which is no longer offered, was a notebook designed for multimedia and as a light-duty performance notebook. Overall, it looks like Dell has taken a good platform and made it better. The 6000's buttons are located in a much more intuitive location, but we still want to see some sort of user defined settings for their LED use (i.e. 3 second delay, 5 second delay, Always On, etc...). This just makes sense, because you want to be able to identify the buttons in the dark before you actually press them.
This notebook is not designed for gaming, but rather the multimedia experience. The X300 is capable of doing some light gaming should you choose to do so, however. Just keep the resolution at 1024 x 768, and you should be fine. Regardless of what you plan to do, we recommend the 64MB MRX300 at a minimum. Intel's IGP solution should only be considered if you plan to do word processing and business related tasks. Anything related to the multimedia experience will benefit from the MR X300 configuration, i.e. CAD, Lightwave, Adobe Premier, light gaming, etc.
Our sample came priced at $1,631 (with the current $250 discount), which included the 9-cell battery, 128MB MR X300, 8x DVD +/- RW, and Dell Wireless 1450 WiFi card. The only major solution that can compare to the 6000 is HP's DV4000, which is competitively priced, but it only comes with Intel's IGP solution. If you configure Dell's 6000 with Intel's IGP solution, the only CPU selections are the Celeron-M 350 (1.3GHz) or 370 (1.5GHz), while the DV4000 comes with multiple Pentium-M configurations. Dell's 6000d (with ATI's MRX300), is the only 6000 configuration that allows for Pentium-M selection.
As far as displays go, opt for one of the better two display options: WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050) or WUXGA (1920 x 1600) UltraSharp. Performance may be something you can change in the future if you have enough skill to swap out a CPU or are willing to send the unit to Dell's tech shop. However, the display is something you are more or less stuck with, it is a lot harder to upgrade, and it will almost certainly be much more expensive than the original upgrade cost. The other reason we recommend choosing one of the two better display options is that you need to keep in mind that your screen is something you are going to be staring at day in and day out; for every second you're sitting in front of your computer.
Overall, the Inspiron 6000 is a very well rounded product, and there are just a few areas the could use a some improvement, i.e. the LEDs for the multimedia buttons. Battery life and performance is very good, considering that this is somewhat of a lightweight desktop replacement. If you have and extra $99 in your budget when configuring your 6000, we recommend upgrading to the 9-cell battery pack. This battery isn't any larger than the 6-cell pack, it just has a larger capacity. The 9-cell battery is a better value than the 6-cell battery pack, in our opinion, especially if you plan to use your notebook while away from the AC adapter for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. In the end, the Inspiron 6000 earned a 9.0 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.