Unfortunately the laptop has a limited number of audio connectors. There's headphone and microphone sockets on the left side, but you may need special cable adaptors if you intend to connect the XPS M2010 to an external amplifier. Luckily a lack of audio ports is the only area of input/output connectivity in which the laptop suffers. The base of the laptop has a number of ports including two PC Card card slots, a mini FireWire port and a 13-in-2 multimedia card reader. On the left there are two USB ports with two additional USB ports on the rear, and there are DVI, LAN and modem ports present, too.
There's plenty of space to store files on the XPS M2010. Dell has supplied a pair of 100GB hard drives configured in a RAID 0 array for a total of 200GB of storage. That's enough to hoard over 190 hours of high-definition movie content, or over 51,000 average-sized MP3 audio files.
Accessing multimedia content is a breeze with the M2010 as it uses the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system. It also comes with a customised remote control that lets you control the device from the comfort of your armchair. Commendably, Dell has opted for a remote that has an integrated LCD screen, and this can be used to select songs or tracklists in your music library without going anywhere near the laptop.
Arguably more impressive is the remote's gyroscopic ability -- it lets you move the mouse cursor around the screen simply by waving it at the laptop.
Being an XPS product, the M2010 comes with one a one-year next business day on-site warranty, plus free online and telephone technical support. XPS customers are given a special phone number which expedites their calls to agents ahead of standard customers, so there's potentially less time spent waiting on the phone.
Unsurprisingly the XPS M2010 offers strong performance in most aspects. Its 2.1GHz processor helped it achieve a solid PC Mark 2005 score of 4,122, which was in line with our expectations.
The XPS M2010 gave us the rather pleasant surprise of operating in a very quiet and composed manner during our test period. It runs extremely quietly during everyday use and its cooling fans only piped up when we subjected it to more strenuous activities, such as video encoding or game playing.
Its performance with 3D applications was also impressive. The ATI Mobility Radeon X1800 card helped it clock up a 3DMark 2006 score of 2,244, which is the highest we've seen for any laptop that uses a single graphics processing unit (GPU). This equated to a Doom 3 frame rate of 65fps at a resolution of 1,024x768, which again is the best we've seen from a single GPU laptop.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield