Dell Latitude E4200 review
12.1 in 1,280x800 display, 1.2kg, 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, 2.00GB RAM, 64GB disk, Windows Vista Business
The arrival of netbooks has made many ultra-portable laptops look rather overpriced.
Stylish design is one way of differentiating a new ultra-portable laptop from the crowd. The E4200 does indeed look smart: it's 25mm in height, has a glossy lid and sharp lines.
Dell provided a large six-cell battery with our review sample. It protrudes 22mm from the back, which spoils the look a little. However, even with it fitted the E4200 still weighs just 1.2kg. A score of just over six hours in our battery tests is impressive, but not as good as Samsung's NC10 netbook.
The E4200's speedy solid state drive (SSD) pushes the E4200's PCMark scores to dizzy heights, with a score of 4,182 in the Productivity section of the test. Its energy-efficient 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM make it at least twice as fast as the NC10 across a range of applications.
Unlike many netbooks, the E4200 has an excellent keyboard. The keys are a standard, moulded shape and give good tactile feedback. While not full-sized, they are still big enough for those with large fingers.
The touch pad, however, is tiny. You'll need to enable mouse-pointer acceleration in Windows' Control Panel if you want to be able to cover the entire desktop without lifting your finger off the pad. The buttons are also small, but placed close to the edge of the case where your thumb can find them more easily.
As well as a decent keyboard, the E4200 beats most netbooks by offering a higher-resolution display of 1,280x800 pixels. This gives you more space to work on office documents, and makes text look really crisp. Its matt finish helps reduce glare from strong lighting, so you should be able to see what you're doing whether in the office or on the move.
Netbooks often fall short on features, and unfortunately the E4200 does little to distinguish itself either. There are only two USB ports available, and there's no internal or external optical drive. The 64GB SSD provides enough storage for office use and should be more resistant to bumps and knocks than a standard hard disk. An SD card slot, FireWire port and ExpressCard/34 slot are provided.
It's not difficult to find a cheaper alternative to Dell E4200. Samsung's NC10 netbook has a longer battery life, weighs only 100g more and costs just over £300. It's a great choice for those working on office documents on the go. If you want portable computing power but don't require a lengthy battery life, then Asus's U6V offers more features and better overall performance for £176 less. That said, if you really need to have everything in one lightweight package, then the E4200 is a great laptop.