With a feature list as long as my arm, on paper the Aurora m9700 sounds much more like a high-end desktop rather than a notebook. Although a 17” LCD would be quite small for a desktop computer, it’s certainly not for a notebook. With a native resolution of 1920x1200 this LCD panel puts most 17/19” desktop monitors to shame. Again this is another aspect of the Aurora m9700 that enforces the point that this notebook is strictly for entertainment purposes and nothing else.
|The glowing alien sees all.||Now everyone can see you!|
The 1920x1200 resolution makes reading text on a 17” screen slightly challenging given how small everything is. However, what it does for games is unexplainable as it produces picture quality that’s not often seen on your average desktop computer. The glossy screen also helps make the Aurora m9700 look sensational, though at the same time can cause a few issues. The gloss creates a mirror-like effect and this can potentially affect viewing anything on the screen on certain light situations, as you can see the crowd behind you drooling all over themselves.
Most notebooks suffer from a lack of USB ports and the like, though this will not be an issue for Aurora m9700 owners. While most desktop computers support at least eight USB 2.0 ports, the average notebook features just two. Alienware has included a total of four USB 2.0 ports, which could be considered the sweet spot since this is a laptop after all.
|Rear connectors include a DVI port!||Right hand side features most of the audio connectors.|
Being a gaming notebook it is fair to say audio is going to be an important aspect of this product. The 5.1 audio support is a rare addition to a notebook, particularly when it sounds this good. Even the internal speakers sound quite good, in fact compared to every other notebook that I have used they are amazing. They are so impressive I was not all that surprised to find later they come complete with a tiny subwoofer.
The rear of the Aurora m9700 features a number of ports which include a DVI and VGA output, s-video in and out along with a single USB port, power in, phone line jack, coaxial port and audio in. Move around to the right hand side of the notebook and you will find five audio jacks, a S/PDIF output, another USB port and a volume control switch. The left side features the 10/100/1000 LAN port, two more USB ports, a Firewire port along with a 4-in-1 card reader and PCMCIA slot. Finally the front of the Aurora m9700 houses nothing more than the two internal speakers and the DVD-RW drive.
Other things worth a mention include the keyboard which is quite important given it will be required to play games. The full sized keyboard in the Aurora is easy to use and feels quite good to game with. The wrist pad in front of it also feels very comfortable. The ultra smooth surface makes gaming for long periods of time comfortable enough, and also seems to stay quite clean. The touchpad is also quite good, though I tend to steer clear of these things as they are just far too slow. Alienware, like other vendors let's you order the computer with additional accessories at an added cost to the overall package. The Logitech G5 Laser Gaming Mouse came with my review sample and is an additional $66 cost if you were to select it on your cart.
Finally, before I move on, it is worth a mention that Alienware do full custom Windows installs on each and every one of their Aurora m9700 notebooks. They completely configure Windows once it is installed, and configure the system with the latest drivers. They also supply what they call an "Alien Respawn boot CD", which you guessed can be used to restore the drives back to its original shipping state.