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Dell Latitude E6400 14.1in Business Notebook review

Andy Vandervell

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Summary

Our Score

9/10

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Dell's Latitude range is a regular feature of any commute. Get on any morning commuter train and your bound to see Latitudes of all shapes, sizes and ages dealing with spreadsheets, email, documents and the like and probably the most common would be the 14.1in Latitude D630, or its predecessor the D620, both of which received a Recommended Award when we reviewed them. Whereas in the consumer space this form factor is largely being edged out, in the business sector it remains a particularly appealing compromise between performance, portability and usability. No surprise, then, to see Dell using its new 14.1in Latitude E6400 as the poster child of the new Latitude range.

In the past we've always praised ThinkPad's, like the wonderful X300, for their timeless design and Dell has clearly tried to achieve a similar effect with the new Latitudes. It doesn't quite manage this but unlike the D630, which was more of a refresh than anything else, the E6400 is part of a complete redesign of the Latitude range and though naturally it retains the professional appearance of previous Latitude's, it brings with it a level of sleekness and style that's previously been missing.

This is achieved through a combination of some strong angular lines and a classy magnesium alloy construction that's most evident in the brushed metal lid. It's not complicated but it does work and it helps that the E6400 is fairly light and slim for its size. At its thickest it measures 31mm and with the standard six-cell battery it weighs 2.3kg, making for a fairly portable weight that's 100g or so lighter than the D630 it's replacing. Plus, for the adventurous, Dell is even selling coloured lids for Latitude's too, though we can't see many companies being interested in this!

So far, so good, but the magnesium alloy construction isn't just about making the E6400 look good, it's primarily about strength and here Dell scores another win. Almost every element of the E6400 looks and feels very sturdy and particular praise must be directed toward the hinge. It's very strong and stiff, so bumpy journeys shouldn't be a problem, while the machine is evenly balanced so the front doesn't lift up when opening the lid and/or adjusting the screen angle - something that's a regular annoyance on consumer laptops. There's also a reassuringly secure lid clasp on the front, so you needn't worry about your laptop popping open when inside a bag.

This sense of quality is continued in the keyboard. As ever with Dell, the basic layout of the keyboard is excellent. There's a large and very usable Shift key on the right, below which sits offset cursor keys, while the Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys are all grouped in a grid in the top right. Everything is more or less exactly where you'd expect and want it to be, the only exception being the omission of the 'Menu' key normally found on the bottom row. It's hardly a deal breaker, though, especially if it allows everything else to be just right.

This layout prowess is coupled with, without doubt, the best feeling Dell keyboard we've ever come across. Keys are tactile, well proportioned, firm and responsive and you have to press extremely hard to garner even a tiny amount of flex. It still lacks the supreme quality found in ThinkPad keyboards, but other than that it's hard to find any fault whatsoever.

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Andy C

October 24, 2008, 5:51 pm

Nice video review but can it really be as great as you say it is? Are there no negatives at all?. Ive been looking at this laptop for a while now and its a choice between this or the dell precision m2400, has anyone got any thoughts on which is best?

Geoff Richards

October 24, 2008, 6:40 pm

Hi Andy C,





Our Andy V is out of the office until next week but I will make sure he responds here to answer your question.





Geoff Richards


Publishing Manager


TrustedReviews.com

student

October 27, 2008, 12:52 am

I had many laptop in my hands but hard to say anything really bad about E6400. I got it a few weeks ago with 9 cell battery, slice battery, Vista 64bit and basically everything you can get from Dell. I still like more D630 where a 9 cell battery is in the front and works well as a palm rest for me. Slice battery is a great idea but it adds weight of course and make the whole laptop really thick - you can forget about putting it in 14" sleeve. I had some problems with the finger print reader and preboot authentication and had to disable it because I have seen a few times a blue screen in Vista. I haven't tried it again after latest bios update tho. The last think but not so important are built-in speakers I think they could install something more power.

marcus49c

November 10, 2008, 5:53 pm

This laptop is almost perfect. but i really dissappointed with the review published here for its accuracy. The laptop does not support MS/ MS Pro media. I bought the laptop after reading the review here.

mjw 2

August 15, 2009, 12:13 pm

Would you please consider adding an additional performance test to your laptop testing? I think it would be useful to list the measured temperature on the underside of each laptop (at 50% load) to gauge whether or not the laptop would actually be cool enough to rest on the lap - let's call it the "crotch comfort factor". It seems that no laptop reviewers do this sort of test today, but surely a major point of a "laptop" should be that you can work with it for long periods of time resting on your lap without having to have a fan cooler in between!

NBuet

August 17, 2009, 7:16 pm

I got this laptop 6 monts ago, and I still miss my old one. Beside the keyboard - superb in every aspects - there's not much shining here. The touchpad and stick are extermely difficult to use. The speed is on par with what one can expect, same for the display. It is quiet most of the time, running outlook & word on windows XP at least. It is more heavy than advertised (mine is 2,5kg). The design is really nothing special. The main issue comes from wifi reception. While my fujitsu, old dell and macbook show excellent signal strenght, the e6400 is getting a low to very low signal, and suffers from frequent disconnect.

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