"More fun on the run" is the marketing tagline Dell's using for its new Inspiron M102z budget laptop, the brand's new budget portable with AMD's Fusion CPU technology.
The new machine combines better-than-netbook graphics performance at 1.56Kg - far easier on the back or arms than lugging around a 15in or even 13in full-size laptop.
The number of budget laptops with AMD's Fusion CPU technology is small but growing, with HP and Toshiba among the first of the major brands bringing Fusion laptops to market.
If you're looking for a cheap laptop, there's a few things to keep in mind about the Inspiron M102z. First off, at $599 it's several hundred dollars more expensive than a netbook. Here's what the lineup looks like:
- The $599 base model includes AMD C_50, 2GB RAM, 320GB 7200RPM, AMD Radeon HD 6250.
- The $699 configuration includes AMD E_350, 4GB RAM, 320GB 7200RPM, AMD Radeon HD 6310
- The $749 model includes AMD E_350, 4GB RAM, 320GB 7200RPM, AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics, built in TV tuner.
Much of what you'll read about Fusion will stress the graphics performance, which is designed to improve on the netbook experience with smooth HD video playback. The Inspiron M102z includes an HDMI port.
But that's only part of the attraction of this machine, at least on paper (we'll reserve our final verdict for when we've completed a review). In terms of screen size, the M102z gives you 11.6in, more than the Inspiron Mini 10. It's also a tad lighter than Dell's 13in Inspirons, and much cheaper than the Inspiron 13z, which starts at $999.
You'll also want to consider this HP DM1 Fusion laptop which HP showed us recently. While the weight is similar and screen size the same, with the DM1 you get the better of the two Fusion chips, the AMD E_350, for $599. At the same price, Dell buyers will have to settle for the AMD_C50; you'll need to step up to the $699 spec for the E_350 chip.
Meanwhile, Toshiba's NB550D Fusion laptop is priced at $499, with AMD_C50, Harmon/Kardon speakers and a sleep-and-music function for playing music while the laptop is turned off. Sony has the $749 Vaio YB.
In the end, it's a performance vs weight decision. For $699, you can now get a laptop with a 15.6in screen and a much more powerful processor, though it'll feel like a brick in your bag.