I had a Dell Inspiron 700m laptop for about 4 years (purchased in 2005). I sold it only recently after my company gave me a laptop due to which I started using my own laptop a lot less.
No doubt, the Inspiron 700m was great. It had a good configuration (by 2005 standards) and was very reliable, small-sized (12.1″) for portability, decent battery life (3.5 hours initially), bright TFT LCD screen and a comfortable keyboard. Not to mention the Dell brand’s reliability.
One good thing about buying laptops online from Dell is that you can pretty much configure every aspect of the laptop (processor speed, RAM, hard disk capacity, OS variant, etc.). So that way you can choose the exact configuration you need and pay only for that. And the website displays the updated price at the bottom all the time, even as you go about tuning the specs.
Coming back to my laptop, the choice of peripherals was good. There were two USB ports, an Ethernet port, RJ11 phone jack (for the internal 56K modem), S-Video out (very useful for watching movies on TV) and a VGA monitor port. It had a Intel Centrino 1.8 GHz processor with 512 MB RAM. But even with this much RAM, it would boot up quickly and run very fast!
My Inspiron 700m came with Windows XP Professional pre-installed, though in hindsight I should’ve gone for Windows XP Home Edition and saved some money! Also pre-loaded were some software like Cyberlink Power DVD (for watching VCDs/DVDs), Norton Internet Security (90-day trial pack), Sonic Record Now, Dell Media Experience, etc. which were good.
I never faced any major issues at all over the four years of use. Only once there was a temporary issue with the touchpad, for which I had to contact customer support. At that time, they responded very quickly and later even called me again to ask if the issue was solved satisfactorily. That was very good.
Only problem was battery life towards the end became very less (about 30 minutes on a full charge), but I guess that’s expected after 4 years of use. Other than that, I have no grouses at all.
But again, I would say go for a 12.1″ screen laptop only if portability is very very important for you, since due to its smaller size, working on it is not as comfortable as on a 14.1″ laptop, as I slowly realised. I would not go for that size laptop again. But nowadays manufacturers have come up with 13.1″ models, which perhaps strike a good balance between size and portability. But 14.1″ is the right size for most people.
All in all, I was satisfied with it. But yes, price is an issue. When I bought it, I felt it was a bit overpriced. Then again, in 2005 laptop prices were quite high overall. But still I felt this laptop could’ve been cheaper.