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Small Alienware Sentia grows up to 14 inches

First Inqpression Alienware Sentia m3400
Mon May 08 2006, 12:24
BACK IN January, at the amusing CES 2006 show, we had a chance to see Alienware's new Sentia m3400 notebook.

Alienware, now also known as Dellinanware introduced a new range of Sentia business notebooks including the 14-incher we had in our hands. We spoke with them a few months ago, here.

Alienware-logo-glows-cool-in-the-dark

Roughly a year and a few months ago we had a chance to play with the first 12-inch Sentia business notebook and we surely liked what we saw. You can check that review here. That model is just slightly different from the new twelve-inch Sentia m3200. The new model uses DDR 2 memory, 915 GM chipset and a Dothan CPUs that are now running at FSB 533. The Sentia m3400 ends up a little bit faster but not dramatically.

Left-is-the-new-sentia-m3400-notebook--right-the-older-sentia-m12-twelve-incher-

The 14-inch notebook weights 2.1 KG. The company decided to stick to its well recognisable and eye pleasing futuristic design and this time we received grey-coloured unit.

The machine is equipped with and an LCD that with integrated web supporting 1280x800 resolution of 16x9 wide screen aspect. It really fits this screen and makes your view a little bit wider. It is much better to watch the movies on this model than on a standard 4x3 screen.

When it comes to business use it will let you surf nicely and your Word screen will be wide enough. You can easily do Photoshop or spread sheets or web design on this machine. It can replace your desktop PC if this is what you are after.

Right--new-sentia-m3400--left-sentia-m12-

Once you turn the machine on you'll notice that the Alienware logo and the alien head will illuminate in very attractive blue colour. It will attract a lot of attention. It just looks cool and people on the airplanes tend to ask for too many details about Alienware notebooks. Many wanted to buy one but and we were kind enouigh to inform them where can they get one. The machine boots very fast, at least our case with a brand-new installation and just a few test programs.

Sentia

The Alienware packs a 2GHZ Pentium M with FSB 533 based on Dothan core, of course. The CPU was running between 398MHz to 798MHz most of the time, but when necessary it was running at 1995MHz, almost 2GHz, if we may note. It runs at full speed if it is absolutely necessary or when it is plugged in to a power supply.

Sentia-m3400-working-at-798mhz

The notebook was rather well-behaved and, until you plug it into the power cord, it would act very quietly. When plugged you could hear the fan spinning but it was not overly intrusive. We do care a lot about the machine noise and this machine satisfied our criteria but we preferred the noise of the unplugged machine.

The test machine was equipped with 1GB DDR 2 memory or should we precisely say two times 512MB DDR 2 memory running at 533MHz and 4.4.4.12 settings. This is the perfect amount of memory for this machine as you simply don't need more.

It uses Intel 915GM chipset with Intel integrated graphics. It will give you crystal clear picture, a decent video and DVD quality but won't let you play anything in 3D. You can forget playing Quake 4 on this machine this is a business machine, not gaming.

It also has a Liteon SoSW 833S DVD recorder capable of DVD+R at 8X, DVD-R at 4X , DVD+RW at 4X, and it reads DVD at 8X. It will record and read standard CDs too.

The 100 GB Seagate momentus 5400.2 ATA 100 drive still uses ATA 100 not SATA but it does not make much difference. When you format it you will get 95386MB space and this should be enough for just about anything. If you run out of space you can burn a DVD and get yourself some space.

We tried out the W LAN and Intel's 2200GB card worked just fine at our Lab WLAN router. Intel did a good job and now the new software lets you connect easily.

The keyboard is easy to use but it will take some time to get used to it. Don't blame us, we use either a full standard keyboard or a much smaller keyboard on a twelve-inch notebook. Alienware used a very nice touchpad, much nicer than the one it used in its old Sentia 120-inch M.

Sentia-m3400-keyboard-is-easy-to-use

We didn't try and install the camera but we are sure that it is working just fine, we just didn't get any software for it. No doubt the retail notebook will come with the pre-installed camera sofwtare. The notebook sports an integrated microphone so you will be equipped for Skype and Messenger even on your business trips.

Just above the keyboard you can find a Web button that will start your default browser, the mail button that will start your default mail client and a media player launch button. The machine is missing the famous P button that used to launch a media Linux. This button is part of the first Sentia M 12 inch notebook and it boots into a Linux media centre that will play just about anything and will boot within seconds. The new Sentia 3400 doesn't have one.

This button also controlled the speed of the CPU but we noticed that new Sentia M 3400 is very good at saving the energy. It will automatically adjust the CPU speed from between 400MHz to 2000MHZ, as necessary.

Sentia-m3400-works-at-1995mhz

The notebook has really nice sound and rather loud speakers. It will be enough for your music and movies.

The right-hand side features a lot of connectors including sound out, microphone in, two USB 2.0 ports and a power plug. The back of the machine hides a Kensington lock, a modem plug, S Video and VGA out. The front of the notebook hides a SD and MMC card reader something that we often find on Alienware machines.

The left-hand side has two more USB ports, SPDIF, another sound Out, Firewire connector an isolated LAN connector and an additional PCMCI card slot. You will be even able to upgrade or to use HSDPA card to surf a little bit faster. We like the fact that you can plug two headphones in .

On Test:
We ran Sandra to get you some kind of a performance numbers and, trust me, the machine is slightly faster than the previous DDR-based one. The Sentia M12 actually runs at 2.2GHz, as it for some reason overclocks itself to 110MHz times 20 multiplier so the CPU and multimedia test will be in its favour. It just runs at 2.2GHz and there is not much you can do about it, but I am not complaining it makes the notebook faster, not slower and the warranty is still there.

In the first CPU test, the Sentia M 12-incher scores 9167 MIPs, while the new Sentia M3400 scores 8542 MIPS. In Whetstone test, the twelve-inch older model with DDR one and FSB 400 based 2.0GHZ CPU scores 3886 while the fourteen inch Sentia M 3400 with DDR 2 and FSB 533 based 2.0 GHZ CPU scores 3548. Sentia M12 scores 19823 in Multimedia integer test while M3400 scores 18941 again slightly slower. In float test M12 Sentia scores 22247 versus 20937 with the new machine.

Sentia M12 scores 2405 / 2405 MB/s in the Sandra 2005 memory test while the new Sentia M3400 scores 2910 / 2917 MB/s in the same test. It turns out that DDR 2 runs a little bit faster and that is about it. I could easily say that the performance is almost identical and that the both machines are really fast and suitable for the office work.

The cheaper 12-inch one will cost you £700.30 including VAT but excluding delivery that will add £52.16 more squid for DHL Europlus shipping in the UK.

The tested machine costs £1,096.28 including VAT and excluding delivery. You also get a nice Alienware gaming mouse pad and an Alienware T shirt.

Conclusion
The first Inqpression is that we are talking about a great machine packed in a super-cool looking case. A friend that already owns a small Sentia could not get its eyes off the new Sentia 3400 and made a brave statement that it wants to buy this one as well.

Sentia-m3400-fourteen-inch-glowing

It is a fast machine with 100 GB storage and now it's glowing it looks even better than before. It is a real eye-catcher. The battery will get you some three plus hours and if you buy an additional one you will be fine for six hours. The additional one costs roughly €75 and it is a worthy investment. We are never satisfied with battery life as it can always be better but three hours is satisfactory.

This is a really nice notebook will cost you a few more bucks than some less attractive notebooks but remember you are buying a Maserati of notebooks and they always cost a little bit extra. If you want a fast machine with a desirable design this is a machine for you. And for around £1100 you will get a top-performing machine that looks good or you can just spend around £750 and get a more modest one. Both will work great. ?

 

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