Dell Inspiron 8600c

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Dell Inspiron 8600c

A strong combination of mobility, power and performance for making the most of your digital world. Ideal for people on the move with Intel Centrino M...

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Review of "Dell Inspiron 8600c"

published 05/05/2012 | dobieg
Member since : 31/01/2003
Reviews : 256
Members who trust : 34
About me :
I'm a miserable old git. I'm ashamed to say it's been a **** very **** long time since I reviewed my "trusts", have sought to rectify this by going through every review I've written in the past couple of years, if you feel hard-done-by, drop me a note.
Excellent
Pro Full size laptop with 'netbook' performance, very cheap to buy now.
Cons Lacks some of the most recent features of modern units
very helpful
Speed
Look & Feel
Memory / capacity
Comfort & Portability
Robustness & Durability

"Dell 8600 - still worth looking at ten years on"

Around ten years since it was announced, and five years since the last review, the Dell 8600 is still worth looking at – as long as it’s for the right reasons.

The It industry is obsessed with smaller, faster, more features, but price points seem remarkably resilient.

When the 8600 was first produced it was at the lower-middle end of the performance range, and commanded a price accordingly – around £750 I believe.

It provided a reasonable range of ‘current’ features which still make it a desirable ‘second best’ system, and by modern standards offers ‘netbook’ performance in a ‘full size’ format, but at a fraction of the original cost.

I came by a very tidy example a month or two back. A friend had upgraded their family laptop, and was all set to toss this in the bin. The prime motivation for this was that it had become ridiculously slow, and the windows installation was unstable.

First off, I ran a full set of diagnostics which revealed that the hardware was still in full working order, my first action was to scrub the existing installation and completely reload XP from the original CDs.

I then set about applying service pack two and three, at which point the system slowed down agan, and the instability reappeared – “Blue Screens of Death” abounded. I noticed at that point that the system had the minimum configuration of 256Mb of memory, which it had been delivered with.

Digging in the spares box, I found another 256Mb SODIM card, which stopped the crashing, but performance was still lamentably slow.

I forked out forty quid for an upgrade to 2Gb, and now it’s running better than ever, and whilst isn’t lightning fast, is plenty for browsing, word processing and watching DVDs – as long as you don’t try to do these all at once!

The system comes with a pretty usable set of features; the 40Gb hard drive is plenty for XP, a replacement unit shouldn’t cost any more thatn £50. Whilst DDR1 memory is getting harder to find, it’s still only around £20 a gig – well worth the investment to take it up to the maximum 2 gigabytes.

There’s ‘only’ two USB ports, but for most occasions that’s enough – the keyboard, touchpad and trackpoint is enough for use in the field, but for extensive home use, an external mouse is just about all you’d need extra.

It doesn’t have a built-in SD Card reader, as most modern laptops do, but a card reader is only about a fiver, and few of us need these all the time.

There’s a wireless card which lets you use 802.11b and g, again, sufficient for most needs, it has a DVD drive installed, if you *really* wanted to, this could be upgraded to something more exciting, such as a blu-ray, but you’d probably be better considering a USB connected external unit If this was a ‘must have’.

Typical for the time, there’s a ‘firewire’ port – if you still have a Mini-DV camcorder, this would be hugely desirable.

Some ‘old world’ features still exist on this model including serial and printer ports, tere’s even a cable which lets you plug into a TV through a composite port, although this predates HDMI.

The base software backage featured ‘Microsoft works’ – which I didn’t bother with, preferring to stick on ‘open Office’, and instead of the old virus software I put on the current version of AVG Free.

Something which may be of interest to you might be that it has full dell ‘docking station’ compatibility – I had one of these kicking about from when I used a Dell laptop at work, and it provides more USB sockets as well as a means of setting up a permanent workstation (the docking staion has a mini-DVI socket, but I don’t know if this would support a DVI to HDMI adapter)

Screen resolution is a perfectly respectable 1280 by600 pixels, is stable and flicker free and at 15.5” measured across the diagonal.

Latest drivers are still available for all standard options from teh DELL site.

The unit also comes with a 100Mb Ethernet port and has an analogue ‘narrowband’ modem built in (remember them!)

Finally, there’s a PCMCIA slot for anyone with legacy cards they want to plug in, and thestandard 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone and microphones.

Really, the only feature missing, and found on most modern laptops are a built in video camera (vastly overrated in my view) and support for ‘express’ external cards, and again, most could probably live without this.

Guideline price for a good second hand unit is ‘well under £100’ fully refurbed, or £50 needing a bit of work – cost will be largely dependant on the amount of memory fitted.

As long as you get an operating system supplied (or at the very worst, licence key) don’t bother too much about what software it comes with, most functions such as word processing, photo cataloguing and indexing, DVD burning and so on is available for free on the Internet.

Given what one of these will cost you, and with the expectation that you’re not going to use it as your ‘main’ machine, or your needs are fairly modest.
As I mentioned in the introduction, ten years on, it’s still well worth considering.


**** Update 2013 ****
came by another of these units recently
- you can get a memory upgrade - to the full 2Gb for under twenty quid now, a 'thrd party' power supply only costs around eight pounds, and the docking station is well under a tenner. Accessories will become increasingly expensive overtime, therefore this is absolutely the best time t pick up one f these while you still have the chance.

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Comments on this review

  • headcase44 published 23/09/2012
    You have a delightful knack of saying it exactly as it is which makes for easy reading. Thank you.
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Product Information : Dell Inspiron 8600c

Manufacturer's product description

A strong combination of mobility, power and performance for making the most of your digital world. Ideal for people on the move with Intel Centrino Mobile Technology offering built-in wireless connectivity and longer battery life. Dell Inspiron 8600c features UltraSharp 15.4-Inch Widescreen LCD displays and dedicated graphics cards with up to 128MB of video memory for a superior viewing and multimedia experience

Product Details

Product Description: Dell Inspiron 8600c - 15.4" - Pentium M 725 - Win XP Home - 256 MB RAM - 40 GB HDD, Dell Inspiron 8600c - Pentium M 725 1.6 GHz - 15.4" TFT

System Type: Notebook

Operating System: Win XP Home, Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Processor: Intel Pentium M 725 / 1.6 GHz / 2 MB Cache, Intel Pentium M 725 1.6 GHz

Memory: 256 MB DDR

Storage: 40 GB HDD

Optical Drive: CD-RW / DVD

Display: 15.4" 1280 x 800 / WXGA, 15.4" TFT active matrix WXGA (1280 x 800)

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 - 32 MB DDR

Networking: 802.11b , 10/100 Ethernet , fax / modem

Battery: Up to 3.5 hours, Lithium Ion

Dimensions (WxDxH): 35.9 cm x 27.4 cm x 3.8 cm

Weight: 3.3 kg

Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year warranty

Mobile Technology: Intel Centrino

Built-in Devices: Stereo speakers, wireless LAN aerial

Cache Memory: 2 MB - L2 Cache

RAM: 256 MB (installed) / 2 GB (max) - DDR SDRAM - PC2100 - 266 MHz

Hard Drive: 40 GB

Optical Storage: CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - plug-in module

Graphics Controller: NVidia GeForce FX Go5200 - 32 MB

Audio Output: Sound card

Telecom: Fax / modem - 56 Kbps

Wireless NIC: Intel PRO/Wireless 2100

Input Device: Keyboard, touchpad

Power: AC 110/230 V

Average Run Time: 3.5 hour(s)

General

MPN: N0717

System Type: Notebook

Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Mobile Technology: Intel Centrino

Built-in Devices: Stereo speakers, wireless LAN aerial

Width: 35.9 cm

Depth: 27.4 cm

Height: 3.8 cm

Weight: 3.3 kg

Processor / Chipset

CPU: Intel Pentium M 725 / 1.6 GHz

Cache: L2 - 2 MB

Front Side Bus: 400 MHz

Chipset: Intel 855PM

Platform Technology: Intel Centrino

Features: Enhanced SpeedStep technology, power-optimized processor system bus

Memory

RAM: 256 MB

Max RAM Supported: 2 GB

Technology: DDR SDRAM

Speed: 266 MHz / PC2100

Form Factor: SO DIMM 200-pin

Slots Qty: 2

Storage

Main Storage: 40 GB HDD

Optical Drive: CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - removable

Read Speed: 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)

Storage Controller: IDE

Hard Drive: 40 GB

Display

Type: 15.4"

Resolution: 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )

Widescreen: Yes

Display Type: 15.4" TFT active matrix

Max Resolution: 1280 x 800

Audio & Video

Graphics Processor: NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 - 32 MB DDR SDRAM

Sound: Stereo speakers

Compliant Standards: AC '97

Input

Type: Keyboard, touchpad

Communications

Wireless: 802.11b

Wireless Controller: Intel PRO/Wireless 2100

Network Interface: 10/100 Ethernet

Modem

Protocols & Specifications: ITU V.92

Max Transfer Rate: 56 Kbps

Battery

Technology: Lithium Ion

Installed Qty: 1, 1 / 2 (max)

Max Supported Qty: 2

Capacity: 72 Wh

Run Time: Up to 3.5 hours

Average Run Time: 3.5 hour(s)

AC Adapter

Input: AC 120/230 V

Output: 65 Watt

Connections & Expansion

Expansion Bays: 1 x front accessible

Slots: 2 x memory ¦ 1 x PC Card ( 1 free )

Interfaces: 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ¦ 2 x USB 2.0 - 4 PIN USB Type A ¦ 1 x display / video - S-video output - 7 PIN mini-DIN ¦ 1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5mm ¦ 1 x audio - line-out/headphones - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ¦ 1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15) ¦ 1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45 ¦ 1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11

Software

Software Included: Drivers & Utilities, Microsoft Works 7.0, Dell Media Experience

Miscellaneous

Features: Security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), Locking device keyhole (cable lock)

Dimensions & Weight

Width: 35.9 cm

Depth: 27.4 cm

Height: 3.8 cm

Weight: 3.3 kg

Manufacturer Warranty

Service & Support: 1 year warranty

Service & Support Details: Limited warranty - 1 year - pick-up and return

Operating System / Software

OS Provided: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Software: Drivers & Utilities, Microsoft Works 7.0, Dell Media Experience

Power

Power Device: External

Voltage Required: AC 110/230 V

Power Provided: 65 Watt

Expansion / Connectivity

Expansion Bays: 1 x front accessible

Expansion Slots Total (Free): 2 memory ¦ 1 ( 1 ) x PC Card - type I/II

Interfaces: 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ¦ 2 x Hi-Speed USB - 4 PIN USB Type A ¦ 1 x display / video - S-video output - 7 PIN mini-DIN ¦ 1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5mm ¦ 1 x audio - line-out/headphones - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm ¦ 1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15) ¦ 1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45 ¦ 1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11

Networking

Networking: Network adapter

Wireless NIC: Intel PRO/Wireless 2100

Data Link Protocol: Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b

Compliant Standards: IEEE 802.11b

Telecom

Modem: Fax / Modem

Max Transfer Rate: 56 Kbps

Protocols & Specifications: ITU V.92

Input Device(s)

Type: Keyboard, touchpad

Audio

Audio Output: Sound card

Compliant Standards: AC '97

Video

Graphics Processor / Vendor: NVidia GeForce FX Go5200

Video Memory: DDR SDRAM - 32 MB

Optical Storage

Type: CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo - plug-in module

Read Speed: 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)

RAM

Installed Size: 256 MB / 2 GB (max)

Technology: DDR SDRAM - 266 MHz

Memory Specification Compliance: PC2100

Cache Memory

Type: L2 Cache

Installed Size: 2 MB

Processor

Processor: Intel Pentium M 725 1.6 GHz

Data Bus Speed: 400 MHz

Chipset Type: Intel 855PM

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