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Dell Latitude E4200 12.1in Ultra-Portable - Dell Latitude E4200 12.1in Ultra-Portable

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

So the E4200 is light, thin and well made, but while it doesn't sacrifice solidity for its compact look and feel, like the D430 before it, it doesn't come with an integrated optical drive. Instead you can choose between a Media Base, which is a docking station style attachment that sits underneath the machine, and an External Media Bay -- ostensibly just a USB optical drive.

Unfortunately, both of these options are excruciatingly expensive, costing £227 and £122 respectively. Fundamentally, if you think you need the Media Base then you're probably better off looking at something else that has an optical drive, while if you want an external drive you should buy one from elsewhere and not from Dell itself. Another missing option is that of a webcam, something that's made impossible by the admittedly very attractive thin bezel at the top of the screen.

Internally, meanwhile, our configuration (costing £1,733.05 inc. VAT) came equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 running at 1.4GHz, 2GBs of 800MHz DDR3 RAM (1GB integrated), an 'Ultra-Performance' 64GB SSD from Samsung, Draft-N Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, Trusted Platform Module 1.2 (TPM) security and integrated 7.2Mbps HSDPA. Graphics is catered for by Intel's GMA 4500M HD chip, which is more than sufficient for business use, while the six-cell, 58 Watt-hour battery adds £18 over the somewhat lacking four-cell standard effort.

If one were looking for savings, downgrading the Ultra Performance Samsung SSD for the standard drive saves a whopping £243, while omitting HSDPA saves a further £81 -- an option if you have a USB modem or simply don't need it. These two measures alone bring the price down to £1,360.45 inc. VAT and other savings could be made if required.

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 that offers this and all told it garners little complaint. In addition, the E4200 comes equipped with an ambient light sensor, so the screen will automatically adjust the brightness to suit the ambient conditions, saving battery life in the process.

Another battery saving feature is the 'Extended Battery Life' mode that's part of Dell's ControlPoint software. This powers down all security devices, the FireWire and ExpressCard devices, enables Windows' Power Saving mode, reduces the screen colour depth to 16-bit and reduces the refresh rate to 40Hz. All of which should provide around eight hours of low intensity usage, though it's annoying that there's no shortcut for this mode -- you must enter the ControlPoint software and navigate a couple of menus first.

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.

Ohmz

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.

sengstaken

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.

yungchin

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?

Hakro807

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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