Back to 12/96 Systems: IBM PC 350
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 Systems: ALR Evolution 5ST

December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews Systems: Dell Latitude XPi CD P150ST

Portable Carries Desktop Power

By Jonathan Blackwood

It's hard to improve on a winner but Dell has done exactly that with its new, Sony-built Latitude XPi CD P150ST notebook. It includes some attractive new features, such as a 12.1-inch Super VGA active-matrix screen, a 128-bit NeoMagic video controller, integrated Spatializer 3-D stereo sound and a 6X CD-ROM drive. It also boasts a 150MHz Pentium processor, 16MB of EDO RAM and a 2.1GB IBM hard drive.

The preproduction unit I examined was a beauty, and it ran as well as a typical Latitude notebook. On our Wintune benchmarks, the XPi CD P150ST averaged 273.67MIPS. It produced scores of 17.3MB per second uncached throughput on its hard drive and 9.43Mpixels per second video throughput. Times to execute our Word and Excel application macros averaged 19.33 and 17 seconds, respectively. The only notebook I've seen with better application macro times was the 133MHz Latitude LM. That machine-which also made use of the NeoMagic video controller-had 40MB of RAM.

The new XPi does not have a modular bay like the Latitude LM. While this means added weight and thickness, you won't have to fumble with carrying the CD-ROM drive or floppy disk drive as a separate component if you'll need both on the road. The drawback is that you do have to carry the weight of both whether you need them or not, and you can't install a second battery simultaneously with the first. Still, expect four to six hours' use on a single charge-an estimate I didn't test, but which seems reasonable. The carrying weight of the system is 7.3 pounds, including everything but the power cord. The unit measures 2.5 by 11.1 by 9.2 inches.

The keyboard is the best I've used, with 18.3-millimeter key spacing and 3mm travel. The Ctrl key is where it should be, on the extreme bottom left of the keyboard, where it's easily accessible for Ctrl-key commands in Word or Excel. You access the numeric keyboard and Windows 95-specific command keys by using an Fn key. An optical trackball is the only pointing device available, but it's the best trackball you'll find.

The notebook has a full complement of ports-parallel, serial, PS/2, external monitor, docking connector and 4Mb per second infrared-arrayed along its back (there's an additional infrared port in front). Two Type II PCMCIA ports are on the left side, along with line-in, microphone and line-out/headphone miniature plug jacks for the audio.

If you don't mind lugging around 8 pounds (with the power cord), the new Latitude XPi makes it easier than ever to take desktop performance on the road.

-- Info File --
Dell Latitude XPi CD P150ST
Pros: Performance; battery life; screen
Cons: Relatively heavy
Platforms: 3X, 95, NT
Dell Computer Corp.
800-613-3355, 512-338-4400
WinMag Box Score: 4

Back to 12/96 Systems: IBM PC 350
Up to Table of Contents
Ahead to 12/96 Systems: ALR Evolution 5ST