Dell Latitude XPi CD MMX
Dell Latitude XPi CD MMX Unofficial Information Center
Tips, info, and advice regarding one of the best laptops ever made.

Compiled by Jeremy Jusay

Welcome to the Dell Latitude XPi CD MMX Unofficial Information Center.

What This Site Is For
In order to help you maximize your laptop experience, I've compiled all the knowledge gathered from official Dell documentation, various newsgroups, and personal experience. Here you'll find troubleshooting advice, tips on how to use the laptop more effectively, a checklist of things to know when shopping for an XPi CD on eBay, links to official drivers and BIOS upgrades, and various pictures. Although this site deals more with Windows 98SE issues (with an emphasis on the 166 MHz flavor of XPi), it can still serve as a helpful starting point for users of other operating systems. Needless to say, this site is a perpetual work in progress, and if you spot an error or if you have a suggestion, please send me an e-mail.

The Little Laptop That Could
Manufactured in 1997 and sporting a 166 MHz Intel Pentium MMX CPU processor (it later came in 133 MHz) and an SVGA (800x600) 12.1 inch active-matrix TFT LCD display, the XPi CD was the last and most powerful PC laptop to utilize a built-in trackball device, which, in my opinion, is easier to use than the trackpads and trackpoints that have dominated the scene since then. And unlike other laptops that require swapping, the XPi CD has both a built-in floppy and CD-ROM drive, which is a huge convenience (although it does make it heavier). Made in Japan, the XPi CD was the only laptop in 1997 to survive PC Computing's (now PC Magazine/ZDNet) Notebook Torture Test three years in a row, and has one of the most elegantly designed cases ever made for a laptop. With a maximum of 80 MB of RAM, it can run all the Windows OS's up to XP (although sluggishly), including Linux (stay tuned for an article on that), and is more than enough to handle all of your word processing and Internet needs.

And here's the kicker: In 1997, the XPi CD cost $5,019 direct from Dell, and was marketed as a high end mobile solution for business and government customers. Today, in 2005, you can buy this same laptop for under $200 on eBay.

How It All Began
I bought my first XPi CD in April 2001 for my girlfriend at the time for $340 (plus $28 shipping) from a seller on eBay. Her Gateway 2000 desktop PC computer (a P5-133XL full tower hand-me-down from her dad that I upgraded to an AMD K6-2 400 Mhz using a PowerLeap adapter) was taking up too much space in her side of our bedroom, and since she only used the computer to write papers and check her e-mail, I decided to get her a "desktop replacement."

I fell in love with trackballs, and the idea of owning a laptop, after playing around with a friend's ancient Apple Powerbook Duo 280c. After searching around on eBay for a Duo (my girlfriend used a Mac at work) which was going for under $200 at the time, I changed my mind and decided to go with a Windows notebook, since I had already collected a huge software library for the PC (not to mention a lot of user experience), and pretty much nothing for the Mac. And the closest thing to a Duo on the PC side of the fence turned out to be the Dell Latitude XPi CD. [Editor's note: I would later find out (from a September 1994 Wall Street Journal article that I found on Google Groups that the Apple executives who had created the PowerBook series had later defected to Dell to design the Latitude XP line, which explains the trackball.]

It was love at first sight. According to the eBay seller, the laptop was a donation to a private school that no longer needed it. Whoever it came from, they must've taken very good care of it, as it was in pristine condition. It came with a genuine Dell laptop carrying case (nylon with leather details), an IBM Travelstar (DLGA-23080, 4000 RPM) 3.08 GB hard drive, a 10x CD-ROM built-in, 80 MB RAM (the maximum), 2 batteries (one that held a full charge, one that didn't), an AC adapter, a 33.6K Dell/U.S. Robotics X-Jack PCMCIA modem, and an operating system pre-installed (for evaluation purposes, of course). My girlfriend loved it. The keyboard (which, by the way, looks and feels like a real keyboard) and trackball were perfect for her small hands, and its size allowed her to put the laptop away whenever she needed to. It also allowed her to work anywhere in the apartment. And lastly, it was cheap. In short, it was the perfect computing solution.

Why I Created This Site
Four months and three XPi CDs later, I've amassed enough experience tinkering with these machines and their various accessories to warrant making a site devoted entirely to helping out the Latitude user. If you comb the newsgroups and Dell forums long enough, you start to see a lot of repeat questions and scattered answers. So I thought to myself, why not cull all this information together, in a simple, nicely designed website. And I hope that is what I have accomplished.

Jeremy Jusay
Brooklyn, New York
Tuesday, May 10, 2005 12:40PM

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