Just over two years ago, I wrote my first impressions of the initial Alienware m11x ‘gaming netbook’. I found the build quality and processor a bit lacking but the design and graphics performance were excellent.
About six months later, Dell released the R2 version, this time with a low-power Core i7 processor, and I absolutely adored the updated laptop. Well, except that the Optimus graphics switching system was nearly useless at launch and took some time to get correct. I always preferred the manual switching of the original system (and the Sony Vaio S-series) as it gave better battery life and more control.
I skipped the refresh in early 2011 – three revs in one year seemed excessive, and the overall value of the update was hotly debated in forums for quite a while last summer. The m11x got a new graphics card and a second generation Core-series processor, which gave a decent bump but nothing remarkable. The general concensus was to stick with Rev 2 if you had it, but if you had a Rev 1 it was a worthwhile jump.
However, since early 2010 something has happened – the netbook sector has largely died. Not just that, even amongst the more recently introduced ‘ultrabooks’, each new launch is met with a chorus of people saying ‘call me when you have a 14″ or 15″ model’. Also, the market for a $1200 gaming netbook is a rather small one to start. In other words, the market potential is pretty small, particularly for a company in as much financial turmoil as Dell.
Apparently I was not mistaken in my assessment, as a report from The Verge notes that while refreshing the Alienware mx line there was a notable hole – the m11x was gone. They checked with Dell:
Dell’s Alienware M11x is set to be discontinued, after the company told us it has no plans to refresh the smallest member of its gaming laptop family. The M11x was and remains a truly unique product in what is otherwise a thoroughly saturated market — never before it had we seen a gamer-centric aesthetic and spec sheet brought down to the 11-inch form factor. Unfortunately, as well-received and successful as this product has been for Dell, the company says it no longer has a logical place in its product portfolio. Users are said to be demanding full-sized keyboards and optical drives from their gaming PCs, mobile or otherwise, and the Alienware M14x is the model to satisfy those needs.
I very much understand the rationale behind this decision – I mean, Dell released 3 revisions of this product so if there was a compelling market you KNOW they would keep making it. And not only did I pass on buying the last release, I have since sold off both of my older m11x units … because they sat unused. And yet … it makes me nostalgic. The m11x was a unique device that filled a great niche, and offered something for gamers and those looking for ultimate portability as well!
Source: The Verge