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October 1996 Reviews TOC

10/96 Reviews Systems: Dell Latitude LM P-133ST

Barn-Burning, Value-Priced Performance

By Jonathan Blackwood

As much as I like the Dell Latitude XPi series of notebooks, I've repeatedly heard two complaints about them: There's no built-in CD-ROM drive, and some people just don't like trackballs. Dell's new Latitude LM series addresses both of these perceived shortcomings: The LM sports a modular 4X CD-ROM drive and a Synaptics TouchPad.

Prices start at $2,399 for a modestly equipped 100MHz LM model with an 11.3-inch dual-scan display, 8MB of RAM and an 810MB hard disk. All models include the options bay, which lets you swap out the floppy disk drive with a Toriscan 4X CD-ROM drive, both standard; the bay also holds an optional second battery (for an additional $249). Prices escalate from there. The unit I tested was a 133MHz Pentium with the maximum 40MB of RAM, a 12.1-inch active-matrix screen, an 810MB IBM hard disk (a 1.3GB drive is available) and a second battery, ringing up a total of $3,749. With 16MB of RAM, this machine would be $300 less.

The addition of the modular bay makes the LM a little larger than the XPi, at 1.9 by 11.8 by 8.9 inches. It's a little heavier, too, at about seven pounds. The stunning new 12.1-inch active-matrix screen on my test unit has about the same viewable area as a 14-inch CRT. The 87-key keyboard features Win95-specific keys, and has a full 3mm of travel and 18.3mm spacing. The touchpad is the best I've used.

In addition to the parallel, serial and PS/2 ports, there are connections for an external monitor and a docking connector. There's also an IRDA 1-compatible (115Kbps) infrared data port, and two PC Card slots for two Type II or one Type III card are stacked on the left side toward the back. You also get Sound Blaster-compatible stereo sound, with integrated speakers and microphone.

Best of all, the LM's a screamer. On the WINDOWS Magazine Wintune 95 benchmarks, the LM's processor pumped out 246MIPS on average. The notebook's average video score of 9.67Mpixels per second and its uncached hard-disk data- transfer rate of 2.4MB per second would be quite respectable in a desktop. Credit the LM's PCI bus and its 128-bit NeoMagic PCI video controller for these superb results. Average times to execute our 32-bit Excel and Word macros were 15 and 16.67 seconds, respectively, which is roughly equivalent to my 166MHz Pentium Compaq Deskpro desktop.

All in all, the Latitude LM is relatively inexpensive for this level of performance. Slide in the second battery, and you'll be ready for nonstop computing on your next flight to Europe.

Info File
Dell Latitude LM P-133ST
Pros: Fast; great screen; excellent ergonomics
Cons: Relatively bulky
Dell Computer Corp.
800-613-3355, 512-338-4400
WinMag Box Score: 4.5

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