The front of the chassis is completely empty, but the left is populated with a Type II PC Card slot, an SD Card slot, a headphone socket and a microphone socket. Finally at the rear you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports and a third USB 2.0 port, complete with a USB power socket. Also at the rear is a network port for the integrated Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet controller, a modem socket, a D-SUB port, a four-pin FireWire port, an IrDA port and the mains power socket.
You’ve probably noticed that I didn’t mention an optical drive, and that’s because the D420 doesn’t have an integrated optical drive. However, you do get a docking base with the unit, complete with a DVD writer installed. The docking base also provides three USB 2.0 ports (one with power), a headphone socket, a D-SUB port, a DVI port for connecting digitally to an external monitor, a parallel port, a serial port and finally an Ethernet port. Clearly Dell still thinks that corporate clients need legacy connection options, and that’s probably very true.
When it comes to performance, the D420 isn’t going to set any records – but then ultra-portable notebooks are not built for outright speed. That said, there’s very little that you wouldn’t be able to run on this machine, and if you were worried about performance, it’s probably worth pushing the memory complement up to its maximum 1.5GB.
What really counts with a notebook like this is battery life. Using the standard battery, the D420 turned in a MobileMark 2005 battery life score of three hours 25 minutes, which is reasonable, but nothing to write home about. However, once I plugged in the exteneded battery, that time rose to a very respectable six hours 20 minutes. It’s also good to know that the extended battery only costs £33 extra.
Talking of price, the Latitude D420 is a bit of a bargain and will probably look attractive to consumers as well as business users. At £1,350 including VAT, you’re getting a lot for your money with this little notebook, and when you throw in the three year, on-site International warranty, it’s impossible not to recommend the D420.
Dell’s new Latitude range just goes from strength to strength. The D620 was a great notebook at a very attractive price, and this D420 continues that trend. Not only is the D420 well built, stylish, small and light, but it’s also feature rich. The inclusion of the integrated HSDPA module is just icing on the cake and makes this the ideal notebook for the road warrior who needs to always be connected.
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