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The Gigahertz Dupe: Dell SmartStep 250N

A Dell Novelty: A Desktop CPU In The Notebook

Gericom made it big in Europe by doing it. Toshiba held back for a long time before finally bowing to Gericom's "powers of persuasion." We're talking about using a desktop CPU in a notebook.

Dell took a longer time considering its options. But then in July came the news that, for the first time, the direct shipper would offer customers a notebook with a desktop CPU and - also a novelty - an (almost) fixed configuration. The result, according to the heady texts of the marketing strategists, is "... the perfect companion for almost all conceivable applications..." They add: "... regardless of whether it's multimedia or DVD films, MP3 editing or CD burning, or whether you need intricate presentations, calculations, the Internet or e-mail: Even with modern 3D games, the speeds reached by the 250N are impressive."

A glance at the list of features presented with the SmartStep 250N we tested really does suggest that there's a powerful beast inside this "people's notebook."

Dell SmartPC 250N
Display15,1" TFT (1400 x1050 Pixel)
ProcessorPentium 4 2.2 GHz (2200 MHz)
BIOSWistron DEL19000-845-062502-A01 EN
Memory1x 256 MB DDR266
Graphics CardATI Mobility Radeon, 32 MB
Hard Drive40 GB, IBM Travelstar 40GN (IC25N040ATCS04-0)
ATA-5, 4200 rpm
DVD/R/RWToshiba SDR2102 (ATA-2)
ModemConexant Ambit V.90(V.92) SoftK56 MDC Modem
NetworkRealtek RTL8139 (10/100 Mbit)
FirewireIEEE1394 Texas Instruments OHCI-Compatible
AudioIntel AC97
PCMCIA2 x Type II or 1x Type III Card
Drivers and Software
Intel 845 DriverV 4.04.1007
Graphics DriverATI 6.13.10.6118
DirectXVersion: 8.1
OSWindows XP Pro, Build 2600 SP1 (English)

The maximum brightness of the SmartStep's 15.1" display was found to be 120 candelas per square meter, with a contrast ratio of 128:1 (black-and-white contrast). The test device screen's brightness distribution is good. All in all, THG gives the SmartStep 250N's display quality a good rating.