The Free Geek

Ramblings of a Free Software Geek

The Dell XPS m1210 — a mini review Fri, 20 Mar 2009 17:36:25 +0000

Filed under: General — Bon Goose @ 17:36:25

After a lot of research, I recently got a Dell XPS m1210 for my girl friend. It’s a cool 12.1″ WXGA laptop with pretty much cutting edge features. It has an Intel T2300 Core Duo processor and came with 1 GiB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM and a 80 GB SATA HDD. It also has the usual embellishments like DVD RW, Intel Pro Wireless, 9 cell battery etc. All this weighs just around 2 Kg and costs around 1500 USD. So it’ll neither break your back nor will it burn a hole in your kitty πŸ™‚

It came with something called Dell Media Direct which is some kind of embedded DVD player and would run without an Operating System. I clean formatted the hard drive and tried to install Ubuntu 6.06 LTS “Dapper Drake” on it. But I was struck by a known bug in the Ubuntu installer which frustrated me a lot. I installed Ubuntu on it finally by avoiding the bug somehow and everything went just fine afterwards. I thought that I’d need to compile and install the Wireless drivers myself but I was pleased to see that Ubuntu included the binary firmware in its restricted modules package. So everything worked just “out of the box” πŸ™‚ It was pretty amazing to see great support for relatively new hardware in GNU/Linux. The only thing that I had to fix by hand was the display resolution. X.org could detect only 1024×768 resolution which not only looked bad, but due to the different aspect ratio things looked a bit stretched horizontally. I fixed the problem by using 915resolution to over-write the display BIOS. I added an entry for 1280×800 in an unused slot and that fixed the problem just fine.

As far as the performance of the laptop is concerned, it’s just amazing. It’s very fast considering its size and I am sure it will beat any laptop in its class. It takes only around 25 secs for Ubuntu to boot, and < 30 mins to rip a DVD. What else can I say, I can’t really complain. At last, a really portable as well as usable laptop. I am really feeling like keeping it for myself and handing over my 3 year old Toshiba to her.

Though almost everything works fine by default I guess it’d be good to have a comaptibility matrix. So here it is —

1. Processor (Intel T2300 Core Duo) Works Needs SMP kernel
2. DVD RW Drive (Sony) Works
3 SATA Hard Disk (Hitachi) Works
4. Ethernet (Broadcom BCM4401-B0) Works Needs b44 module
5. Wireless (Intel 3945abg) Works Needs ipw3945 module, firmware, etc.
6. Display (Intel 950) Works Needs 915resolution to get high resolution
7. Sound (Intel 82801G) Works Needs snd-hda-intel module
8. Firewire (Ricoh) Works Needs ieee1394 module
9. Modem (Intel) Haven’t tested, but should work Most probably will work with the snd-intel8x0m module
10. Card Reader (Ricoh) Somewhat works Works with SD, doesn’t work with MMC
11. ACPI Somewhat works Suspend to RAM doesn’t work yet

The things that don’t work at the moment will start working soon as and when newer kernels are released. The hardware is very new, so small issues can be expected. Over all, it’s a very nice laptop to buy. I haven’t faced any quirks with it and seems to be very stable. Final verdict — great buy, very good hardware and very good value for money.

Toufeeq has also written a nice review of his XPS m1210, though his configuration differs slightly with mine it’s very useful.

Dell XPS m1210

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27 Responses to “The Dell XPS m1210 — a mini review”

  1. Hi G0SUB,

    Nice review! Well, who is your GF? Introduce her!

  2. Kartik, all in due time πŸ˜‰

  3. Gaurav Says:

    Nice Machine dude , Do you know any Turon machines available in the market ???

  4. Michael Says:

    How long did it take from start to finish?

    thanks!

  5. Baishampayan Says:

    Michael, say about 40 minutes? I am not counting the time wasted when I didn’t know about a bug in the installer. When I came to know about it I did a clean install again and it was all done in about 40 minutes.

  6. varun Says:

    cool lappie ..how much $$?

  7. Baishampayan Says:

    Varun: INR 69K including taxes.

  8. Tony Says:

    do those lights on the bottom for the play buttons and fast forward etc. come in only blue?

  9. Baba Tunde Says:

    Could you be more specific about the installer bug? I currently run Ubuntu and Mepis on a thinkpad and am thinking of getting myself the M1210, how did you get Dapper Drake to install?

  10. Baishampayan Says:

    Baba Tunde: The bug strikes only when you try to format your /boot partition as XFS. I tried to create / and /home, both with XFS. Grub has issues with the boot partition being XFS, so instead of warning me about the problem the installer went ahead with the partitioning and installation only to crash with a traceback later.
    It won’t be a problem if you don’t use XFS or you have formatted your /boot as something other than XFS.

  11. Baba Tunde Says:

    Great,I normally use ReiserFS so I shouldnt have any problems. Would it be a problem putting up some pictures of the 1210 running at night? I understand that there are some glowing lights on it.

  12. Harry The Ripper Says:

    This one time I was using an m1210, when I got super hungry. At the time, it seemed like such a good idea to try and eat the battery. Unfortunately, I bought the 9 cell battery. Everyone said it was a good idea, but once I start something I finish it. So that mean I had to consume 9 cells of battery acid. Thanks a lot Dell 😦

  13. bedwere Says:

    Hi,

    I had my company buy one for me. πŸ™‚ I’m running Ubuntu 6.06 too. I noticed
    that when I use the standard kernel wireless works, but not with the SMP kernel.

  14. Justin Says:

    Guys: Is it true that wireless doesn’t work with SMP? Seems like a waste to throw out the dual core performance….

  15. adam Says:

    wireless works fine for me with the smp kernel.

    i’m having issues with suspend and hibernate, but other than that all of the hardware was functional and supported.

    i got the optional nvidia graphics card, which requires the beta nvidia binary drivers (for Xgl)

    the NetworkManager (wifi hotspot manager) doesn’t work out of the box, ahd to roll my own with –with-wpa-supplicant=/sbin/wpa_supplicant

    got the usb camera, which works with linux uvc drivers, necessary modprobe is : usbserial vendor=0x413c product=0x8114

    overall, very happy.

  16. Peter Says:

    hey i have a xps m1210 laptop and i want to upgrade from windows xp home to xp pro can some one tell me how i can do this, i have tried to do this but i keep get the blue screen message, which stops when it is going to install the operating system

  17. NEERAJ Says:

    I GOT THIS ONE BUT HAD PROBLEMS IT HANGED ON ME THEY REPLACED BUT THE SAME THING AS SOON AS I OPENED THE BOX.
    I DONT HAVE OPTION TO WAIT FOR 30 DAYS TO CREDIT ME BACK AND AGAIN BUY ANOTHER.

    SO I AM KEEPING THIS BUT THEY MADE ME HELP LESS BY NOT TO EXCHANGE THIS MODEL WITH ANYTHING THAT DOESNT HANG WHEN YOU OPEN THE BOX.

    BUT TELLING YOU IT DID PISS ME OFF BUT THE LOOKS ARE AWESOME AND KEY BOARD JUST WAIT FOR YR FINGERS AND WHEN WE TYPE ITS LIKE SWEET CARESS.

    I M IN LOVE WITH THIS BUT DELL POLICY IS BAD I HATED THAT.

    PC IS COOL THOUGH.

  18. dmlachan Says:

    I have the M1210 with the built in web cam. Has anyone had or know of any issues with the built in web cam and linux?

  19. TechFiz Says:

    Hi,

    Try the drivers mentioned at

    http://imaging.ugent.be/mr/Suse/suse-m1210.html

    You will be able to play around with the cam

    Regards,
    Shiv

  20. VIvek Says:

    Dude i have the same lappy and i made my friend uy one too the problem i am facing is after startup the screen just coes blank.. do u face the same problem?

  21. Rachel Says:

    Hey! I have the same laptop. I just purchased it a few days ago. I have had absolutely no problems with it and I’m in love. Working at a big electronics store I take alot of heat because of the rep dell has there, but I couldn’t be happier. Nice review! wouldn’t blame you for keeping it! My boyfriend tries to steal mine off me! haha ;D

    – Rachel

  22. Vivek Sharma Says:

    I recently purchased the DELL XPS1210, with the top of the line configuration. There is a definate problem with the inbuilt camera and Mike. The logitech Drivers clash with the intel sound (Sigmatel) Drivers, and the computer just goes blank after the windows logo during bootup. Maybe newer machines with Windows Vista may behave okay, but with version 9.5 of the Logitech drivers there is a problem, unless Dell or Logitech copme up with a solution. Thers even a problem with the newer 10.3-10.5 drivers, the machines remains unstable specially with Alcohol 120 and Daemon Tools. I got a replacement of my M1210 after 7 days of frustration with the Inspiron 6400 as in India they dont have the XPS 1210 without the Camera and Mike. The machine is very good but you have to disable the camera.

  23. Ubuntu Sugar Daddy Says:

    Did anyone get gnome-compiz to work properly on this laptop? I tried but it freezes and the tittle bar disappears. LOL!

  24. Ryan Says:

    I also am trying to upgrade from media center to xp pro and i am getting a blue screen. Anyone know what is going on and how to get past it. I have just decided to stick with Media center for now but I don’t like it. Media center seems to have some negative effect on some of my movie ripping and burning as well


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