Ok on the looks department: crummin silver! You can never have too much black. Black and red for the extreme version would have been perfect. Do you see a red Ferrari with a silver interior? NO. Old 170 definitely has better looks department and the owners are smiling right now I know it.
Merom is pin compatible with Yonah. It has already been done (dropping a Merom into a Yonah notebook). Check the boards for more info.
G80 is highly likely to drop into this heat and power factor, hence compatible with this notebook if Dell builds the card. The mobile chips carry a premium price and even Dell wouldn't mind selling a ton of those. Is it guaranteed? Nope. It is very likely to be capable of taking a DX10 capable GPU. Please note that it's actually WGF 2.x not really DX10. DX10 is just the public reference, not MS. WGF 1.0 is the current Vista layout and is based on DX9, and thus references to current Vista running just fine are incomplete. Also, most folks are just testing the Aero interface, not a fully running game on Vista. We all know running the interface isn't nearly as hard as a full Vista based game. Anyway, for WGF 2/DX10, the G80 will be there and is very likely to drop into the 1710. It is less likely, but still possible to drop into the 170. Have to see on that.
Again, it should have been all black with the red cover, or basically minimal silver. I'd bet if the 170 had come as entirely black no one would have complained.
Built in Audigy 2 would make sense for the extreme version and it's about time! I agree 100% that then we can use the Expresscard slot for Esata and get the "when at home get a full speed hardrive" experience. Alternatively they could have used Dolby Master suite, or even better dropped in Xifi, which has NO expresscard or USB equivalent. Creative would have sold tons of chips and Dell would have cleaned house, as well as having a notebook no one else could match. Oh well.
There is an extreme version and a normal version. Be careful in that what you see in different drivers and hardware are going to refer to two different machines.
I can't wait to see how many shops are going to open up signs saying they'll paint that ugly silver 1710 black for you and save your pain. Painted black, however is not going to be the same as if it had come black framed to begin with. Clearly this silver loving designer hasn't visited many gamers forums. Black black black black
Still probably have to get this if they do the Audigy 2 internal thing as well as the Yonah and G71. Honestly if they wanted to sell a ton of them, they'd offer a coupon to switch out the top parts to black based vs silver when the parts came in. Heck I'd even pay $50 to have that option.