well unless your profile has fake info, you are 20 (same as me
.) so i don't see how your parents could keep a desktop out of your room. (i have strict parents but that just seems ridiculous)
I suggest building a desktop since you could get a pretty good one for the price, but if you still can't get it in your room then go through ibuypower.com if you want a non-dell lappy.
As for the XMS compared to that other dell laptop...i'm fairly convinced that you pay more for the XMS name and the better range of quality parts. By this i mean that the best GPU/CPU/whatever for the XMS will not be available in the other models so you pay extra because you CAN customize the computer to higher standards.'
for instance...i configured both models with the EXACT same parts:
Intel® Core 2 Duo T7200 (2.00GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 667 MHz FSB)
Genuine Windows® XP Media Center Edition 2005
No Express Upgrade to Windows Vista Selected
17 inch UltraSharp Wide Screen UXGA Display with TrueLife
2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHZ, 2 DIMM
80GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
8X CD/DVD Burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer DVD+R write capability
256MB NVIDIA® GeForce Go 7900 GS
XMS M1710: $2,619
Inspiron E1705: $1,947
...hmm...that's odd same specs except the battery and wireless card though doesn't matter at all at this point.
You pay $650 for a laptop with the XMS name on it and a 80 WHr battery compared to 53 WHr...that can also be upgraded for $49)
tell me i'm wrong LOL.
my new question...if you're willing to go with an XMS why not get an E1705 with the EXACT same parts...literally EXACT SAME for $600 less?
PS that's also very close to your price range. only thing i'd change for you is change the ram to 533mhz from 667mhz cuz it's not worth the extra cash spent for the little performance gain.