|Network||Power & Thermal||Other||Intro|
|Case||ABS plastic, metalflake decoration|
|Keyboard||87 keys (in the US)|
|Multimedia Keys||Seven on front of case|
|Sound||AC'97 via intel8x0 (Sigma Tel C-Major Audio)|
|USB Devices||Tested external mouse, joystick, flash storage, USB 2.0 CD|
|IEEE 1394 (Firewire)||Tested external disc|
|Bundled Software||Windows XP Home SP2 and friends|
|Not on Machine||IRDA, parallel port|
Though not a
device in the
traditional sense, the case of a laptop is very important to its function
and to user acceptance. The Inspiron 6000d's case is made of ABS plastic,
with a metal-flake silver color on the lid, around the keyboard (including
the touchpad), and around the display, in a style made popular by the
recent Apple Powerbook. The lid and the keyboard deck have a border of
white. The bottom half of the machine, and the keys, are black. Artists
and professional industrial designers
may quibble, but I think the machine is quite handsome. You can buy ($35)
a snap-on cover for the lid in a selection of colors. I worry that
the cover might come off or the grabbers might break.
External dimensions are:
|Height||1.75||4.5||Counting the feet|
|Depth||10.5||26.7||Minus power connector|
The power connector plugs in straight to the rear, and is 2 inches (5 cm) long; this is how close the machine could be backed up to an obstruction.
The lid latch is horizontally sliding with two hooks. This arrangement is clearly more secure and probably more durable than the single metal hook on the Inspiron 4100.
While I have not completely stripped my machine, I can see the internal construction when components are removed. Interior ribs seem thinner than I would use if designing the case. I've never had a problem with fragility of two previous Dell laptops, and I'm sure Dell has had to pay for damaged cases under the warranty and the service contracts, so they know what they can get away with. But I would be happier if 100 grams of additional plastic were strategically placed around the interior.
The system's mass varies slightly with the accessories. Mine is 3.3 Kg
or 7.2 lb. A review described the Inspiron 4100 as
the SUV of
laptops, and while the 6000d is slightly lighter it definitely does not
qualify for the
thin and light category, for which you should try
the Inspiron 600m or 700m. As a male with a backpack I do not find the
machine burdensome to carry, but if there is any doubt, you should
physically handle a laptop of this general size, before buying, and try
carrying it in the kind of bag you expect to use regularly. For an
improvised mass comparison, a US gallon of water, milk, etc. weighs 8 lb.
The Inspiron 6000 has a standard keyboard with 87 keys (in the US). The alphanumeric keys are full-sized, but there is no separate numeric keypad as on the DEC LK-201 and imitations by other vendors. The function keys and editing keys are about half-height on the top row. The right side of the keyboard can function as a numeric pad if you engage numlock. Key feel is crisp, more so than on the Inspiron 4100. In other words, the springs on the keys are a little stronger, but no so much as to be hard to push down, and there is negative resistance so the key doesn't move until you reach a threshold, but then it drops all the way down.
The keys are toward the rear of the deck, so the front part could act as a palm rest. This ergonomic style was originated by Apple.
My one complaint about the keyboard is that sometimes it rattles against the edge of the deck. This effect comes and goes, and the optical disc, which is just under the place that rattles, may be involved.
Along the front edge of the case are seven illuminated buttons. They act just like regular keyboard keys. In X-Windows they produce these keycodes, none of which of course have any keysyms. I have heard of a daemon that monitors the X clickstream and runs scripts when particular keycodes come in, e.g. to adjust the sound or start or stop video playback. But I don't actually have it set up. Natively, neither the multimedia keys nor Fn-PageUp/Down can be used to adjust the volume in Linux; you will need to use a proper mixer.
Sigma Tel C-Major Audio, type 9751. It's an AC'97 type chip and uses the integrated controller from the Intel ICH6M (915PM) chipset. The Linux driver is snd_intel8x0. Internal speakers and headphones work both on Linux and Windows. (Microphone input is possible but was not tested.) Using xmms and Windows Media Player respectively, it could play audio CDs, and browser plugins for audio were working. Comparing to other laptop speakers, the Inspiron's speakers are pretty good, but for an audiophile experience you should use headphones.
There are four USB ports, two in back and two on the right side.
There are four UHCI controllers (
full speed) and one EHCI controller
high speed), which can work through any of the ports.
I didn't do real speed tests on USB, but it's expected that actual data
transfers are way slower than the theoretical maximum, listed in this
|Standard speed||2 MHz|
|Full speed||12 MHz|
|High speed (2.0)||480 MHz|
A Microsoft USB Intellimouse Explorer worked without problems once xorg.conf was set up for dual mouse operation. Here is my X-Windows configuration file (xorg.conf). See the second mouse section.
A Microsoft Sidewinder Precision 2 Joystick operated without problems in Windows (using the Control Panel tester) and Linux (using js_demo from FlightGear). Unfortunately, for actually playing FlightGear I'll have to wait for direct rendering support of the ATI Radeon M300.
With no drama, Linux was able to mount
and use the Lexar
Jumpdrive Elite 512MB (flash RAM) as /dev/sdb
(device) and /dev/sdb1 (mountable partition) using subfs. However, the
Victorinox (a Swiss Army Knife with USB storage :-)
could not be mounted. It seems to have some strange partitions set up,
which confused something. Fortunately it's not mine; it belongs to a
Reading 1e8 bytes from the block device
went at 2.29e6 bytes/sec (15X) whereas a recursive grep of an entire CD,
6.64e8 bytes, took 181 seconds or 3.66e6 bytes/sec (24X). This is on a
drive rated for 40X reading. I don't know if the drive was overrated,
or if the complex USB protocol took a long time between faster data
block transfers. Even so, these data transfers were 9x or 15x
(respectively) faster than standard USB, or 1.5x or 2.4x faster than
full speed, proving that
USB 2.0 was in use. All four USB ports were tested and each performed
You need to unmount the disc before unplugging the USB cable, even
for readonly media. The
eject /dev/sr0 command will do this
as well as ejecting the media from the drive. The hotplug system is
not as idiotproof as Windows if you forget -- I gave myself a kernel
panic when I unplugged with the device mounted, and then tried to
unmount it manually.
I tested an external disc drive, a 41 GB Maxtor E040L0 in a Speedzter enclosure. A MD5 checksum of a big Windows ghost image, 9.84e8 bytes, took 42.4 secs elapsed (60% CPU utilization), for 2.32e7 byte/sec (1.85e8 bit/sec), 46% of the theoretical bandwidth of 400 Mbaud. This performance is excellent, and could have been limited by the disc (compare to the Fujitsu drive on the laptop).
All steps of mounting and unmounting the drive were handled successfully by hotplug and subfs. I only had to plug it in, and yank the plug. 32 seconds from plugin to being mounted; 11 seconds from unplug to being officially gone. Windows might be a little faster, but not a lot. The experience was similar with the USB flash memory.
Here's what comes with the machine, if the least expensive options are taken.
Windows XP Home version dated 2002, Service Pack 2 Corel Word Perfect Productivity Pack McAfee Anti Virus (Trial Subscription) Intuit QuickBooks (Trial Edition) CyberLink PowerDVD 5.3.1012 Sonic RecordNow 7.3 LE Various Dell utilities and diagnostics
My very first move was to shrink the Windows partition and install SuSE Linux v9.2. Dell ghosts a pristine image of Windows XP Home (service pack 2) onto the machine, but the end user will need to run Windows Update to get security patches since the service pack, of which there were 16 when I got my machine. Equally, a new Linux installation should receive accumulated security patches.
Dell provides a small partition of diagnostics. You should preserve this if at all possible. Here is how to run them. There's also what they call the System Restore Partition, which has installation media in case you trash your O.S. (They used to give you a CD of Windows; now (2006) you have to pay for it -- recommended.) It takes 3.5 GB, and did not survive my repartitioning.
|Network||Power & Thermal||Other||Intro|