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Dell Latitude E4200 12.1in Ultra-Portable review

Andy Vandervell




Our Score:


More than other sectors in the notebook market, ultra-portables are horses for courses choices. Because of their size and weight it's inevitable that compromises must be made somewhere and even when they aren't, as with the Sony VAIO TT, the cost could be deemed prohibitive depending on your standpoint.

Not that there are any cheap ultra-portables, with today's candidate, the Dell Latitude E4200, being no different. This is the minnow of the Latitude range that saw a promising start in the shape of the E6400 -- the all singing, all dancing, all-rounder of the Latitude range. Moreover, the E4200 is replacing the well regarded Latitude D430, a staple of many a company's corporate IT department, so expectations were high when it landed in the office.

And, to a greater extent, those expectations were met when we first unfurled the machine from its ridiculously large box. Measuring 291mm across, 204mm deep and just 19.95mm thick, the E4200 eschews the wedge shaped chassis design so popular of late for a more slab-like appearance. Not that this should be construed as a criticism; the E4200 is every bit as slim and sleek as any other ultra-portable and given it weighs just 1.205kg with its six-cell battery and 1.0kg with the four-cell. In terms of weight, only the Toshiba Portégé R600 can best it.

Unlike the admittedly much improved R600, however, the E4200 doesn't sacrifice anything in terms of build quality to reach this weight, retaining the same solid feel as its larger cousin, the E6400. In fact, thanks in part to its compact size, the E4200 arguably feels more solid, with no element apart from the predictably flexible screen garnering a negative reaction. Moreover, given that the E4200 is only available with an SSD, you needn't worry about shock-protected hard drives anymore -- that's all taken care of.

It's an attractive machine, too. We've got the red version here (other colours include blue, pink and the standard brushed metal black) and while we weren't taken by this immediately, the more time we spent with the E4200, the more we've grown to like it. No doubt the majority of companies will be opting for the black, but more individualistic executives or regular consumers that fancy something a little more eye-catching will welcome the choice even if it adds £29.00 onto the price.

Aside from the colour choices, the basic design continues the angular and functional appearance of the Latitude family. It's a look that works very well for its intended audience, exuding a professional appearance but a little style, too. It's worth noting, though, that the six-cell battery sticks a fair way out of the back of the machine. This takes a little getting used to, but doesn't affect the appearance of the E4200 too adversely and proves handy as a handle to aid usage when standing up.

Bill Broadley

January 19, 2009, 6:49 am

"One thing you can't change, however, is the 12.1in, 1,280 x 800 display. As with all notebooks this size it's an LED backlit effort and is suitably sharp, bright and legible in bright light thanks to the anti-glare finish. It's a shame there's no option for a higher resolution, but we've yet to see a 12.1in"

The thinkpad x200s is 1440x900 and the x200 uses CFL not LEDs as a backlight.


January 19, 2009, 8:07 am

Bill, I believe Andy meant TR hasn't reviewed one yet. I would like to see a pair of reviews of the X200 and X200s. Is it likely you guys will review one/both?

Andy Vandervell

January 19, 2009, 2:08 pm

Yeah, that's was what I was saying, but thanks for pointing that out Bill. We are indeed looking into getting the X200 in for review.


January 19, 2009, 6:09 pm

The "instant on" feature reminds me how quick it used to be to boot up my Acorn Archimedes. The whole OS was kept on ROM, and starting up took about 10 seconds from cold. When we've got the superfast SSD and quick booting Windows 7, could this sort of boot time be a possiblity? Notebooks surely all need this sort of pre-boot option.


January 21, 2009, 4:49 am

Thanks for a nice review! With this wonderfully up-to-date connectivity package comprising all of USB, Firewire, and e-SATA, one wonders why they didn't opt for a DisplayPort connector. Maybe simply because Intel was late delivering proper driver support for that?

PC Pro also reviewed this machine (at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/os/revi... ) and were complaining that the screen was below par. Do you have any comments on that?


October 27, 2014, 2:10 pm

Nice to return to this review after all these years. I have been quite pleased with this laptop. The keyboard is worse than the D430 but not bad. The touchpad is flaky at best. The screen is sharp and bright, but viewing angles are horrible. And a HDMI or DP-connector would have been nice.

Still I have been very pleased with it. The docking connector, internal 3G-chip, long battery life and low weight have been its saving grace. It has been a perfect companion for trips out and about and has taken a fair amount of abuse without complaining. Had the same laptop been released today but with a Haswell/Broadcom CPU and an IPS screen I would feel happy to buy it once again. Low weight and a tiny footprint for the win. And this is still one of the lightest proper business laptops ever released.

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