My new Alienware Sentia m3400

A few weeks ago, during her nightly freak-out session, Qubit tripped over a network cable on a mad dash across the apartment and yanked my laptop off my desk, putting several huge cracks in the LCD. It was not cool. The thing still worked, but half the screen was illegible.

The laptop in question, a Sager 4760, was an enormous beast with a 17-inch widescreen LCD and an insanely hot Pentium 4 desktop (not mobile) CPU. It weighed about 300 pounds, but I didn't care, since I intended to use it as a slightly mobile desktop machine. It served me well until I built a much faster desktop a few months ago, and then it began to be a real pain that my laptop was so huge.

To replace it, I decided to get something much smaller and more mobile. I didn't want a desktop replacement, just something moderately powerful that I could take with me. After a good deal of research, I decided on an Alienware Sentia m3400, which is really just a rebranded Sager 5560 with a 16:9 screen. Actually, the Sager is just a rebranded Clevo, but that's not important. What's important is that I liked the smaller, wider screen on the Alienware, so I bought it, and I'm very pleased with my purchase.

It's a very sexy machine, although the glowing blue alien head on the back is a bit over the top. Still, I count at least ten blue LEDs, and that's pretty hot. I went with a 2.0 GHz Pentium M, a gig of RAM, and a 7200 RPM hard drive (I can't stand slow notebook hard drives). So far I'm very pleased with its performance. The onboard Intel graphics chip even performs acceptably on the games I've thrown at it, including some that the old laptop (with an ATI Radeon) had trouble with. This was a bonus; I didn't expect to be able to play games on this thing.

Battery life is reasonable, though not impressive; it seems to last about 2.5 to 3 hours under moderate use. The built-in Intel wi-fi card gets excellent reception. I especially like the fact that the lid has no latch; it's very elegantly designed for a non-Apple laptop. The only things I'm not very impressed with are the under-sensitive touchpad and the extremely tinny sounding, underpowered speakers, but neither is a very big deal.

For some reason Alienware included not one but two messenger bags with the laptop. One of them is a nice looking, if somewhat boring, black and gray cloth bag with decent padding and a few extra pockets. The other one is a stunning black number with about fifty pockets and enough padding that it could probably survive a fall from the International Space Station. It's a really nice bag; certainly not the kind you'd expect to get for free.

I'm keeping a close eye on Qubit around this one.