Dell 166-MHz Latitude notebook performs above par

At first glance, the exterior hasn't changed much, but closer inspection reveals
improvements: an easier-to-use floppy drive and a CD-ROM drive that melds seamlessly into
the chassis. The two Type II PC Card slots remain the same, but the speaker and microphone
pickups are integrated better.


In this year of ever-expanding LCD screens, the Latitude sports a respectable
12.1-inch, active-matrix display. It's not in the 13.3- and 14.2-inch realm but is plenty
for most road warriors.


On our GCNdex32TM benchmarks, the jump from 133 MHz to 150 MHz brought moderate
improvements, whereas the jump from a 150-MHz Pentium to a 166-MHz MMX chip makes for
notable increases-36 percent, to be exact.


The XPi M166ST performed well on every single benchmark but was 15 percent slower than
Dell's LM M166ST [GCN, April 14, Page 1]. That's quite a margin for two similar notebooks
from the same manufacturer and with the same processor. The differences were in hard-drive
access and video benchmarks.


Long battery life has always been a trademark XPi feature, and the M166 did not
disappoint. Its battery lasted 2 hours, 35 minutes on GCN's heavy-drain test. Under normal
use, it kept going almost 312 hours. That's great considering how fast battery life has
dropped industrywide because of power-sucking new CD-ROM drives, bigger LCDs and faster
processors.


This notebook's CD-ROM drive is a standout. The LM M166 beat out the XPi M166 in almost
every other category, but the XPi's 10X CD-ROM turned in a higher score: 40 percent faster
than the 6X CD-ROM in the XPi 150ST.


Overall, the Latitude has stayed about the same or improved. At 7 pounds, 7 ounces, it
won't be too heavy for frequent travelers and long trips. Its weight, battery life,
connectivity features and powerful engine make the XPi M166ST road-friendly.


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