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

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Taking a look around the machine, Dell has managed to squeeze on most of the connectivity a business user is likely to need when on the move. On the left you'll find a VGA output, a combined eSATA and USB port, the headphone and microphone jacks, a 34mm ExpressCard slot and below this a SmartCard reader that provides secure authentication along with the TPM -- as does the optional fingerprint reader on the main body of the machine.

Then, on the right, there's the Ethernet port, the second USB port, a mini-FireWire, a memory card reader and a wireless radio switch. A power input and lock slot can be found on the back, either side of the battery, while there's a docking port on the bottom for extending this connectivity at the office. Other nice touches include a battery meter on the battery, the small 45W power supply and the fact that the second USB port is powered, so can charge devices even if the notebook itself is powered down.

One area where the E6400 particularly impressed was the keyboard and given the Latitude range has commonality in this respect, the E4200 is also very impressive. Keys have a wonderful tactile feel to them, respond crisply and evenly and flex is barely detectable. No complaint can be made of the layout either with every element logically positioned, including slightly withdrawn cursor keys that are flanked by Page Up and Page Down keys.

Unlike the ThinkPads of this world, the E4200 doesn't have both a trackpoint and touchpad, settling for just the latter. It works just fine, being smooth, well proportioned and serviced by two responsive buttons.

One thing the E4200 does have, however, is an instant-on secondary OS -- something Dell is calling the Latitude ON Reader. This uses a separate Linux sub-system, powered by an ARM processor and flash memory, and gives you access to web browsing, email, calendar, contacts, instant messaging and document viewing. Provided you don't boot into Windows this could potentially offer days, rather than hours, of usage on a single charge.

Much to our irritation, though, our sample (due to its older configuration) doesn't feature it, so we aren't able to give you a full rundown. But, from our time using the ON Reader in the past, it's without doubt a very useful feature for anyone accessing basic functionality on the move -- that'll be most people. Indeed, this alone could tempt many, so it's well worth the relatively minor premium it demands.

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/r... ) 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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