Dell – Latitude D600 review

new model in the popular laptop range
Photo of Dell – Latitude D600
£1,099 + VAT

As with all its notebook lines, Dell has recently re-vamped the corporate Latitude range, giving these laptops a smarter look as well as the latest Intel mobile technology.

The Latitude D series is the top of the range, with the D600 positioned by Dell as offering a balance between mobility and performance. The new range use Dell’s Tri-Metal chassis design using aluminum, magnesium alloy and steel, to make the latest Latitudes lighter and thinner than previous models. Measuring 31.5cm x 25.6cm x 3.1cm and weighing in at 2.12kg, it also achieves its mobility goal.

Throughout the range you have a choice between pure Centrino technology or swapping the Intel Pro Wireless PCI card for one of Dell’s own TrueMobile solutions, either the 1300 with 802.11b/g or the 1400 which supports 802.11a, b and g. The review model was a true Centrino unit using the Intel solution.

Powered by a 1.4GHz version of Intel’s Pentium M Processor, using Intel’s 855PM chipset and backed by 256MB of 266MHz (PC2100) DDR memory, the performance was good without being sensational, but more than enough to handle today’s business applications.

One area of the D600′s performance which does shine is its graphics sub-system. Powered by a 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 chip, it’s quick enough to cope with a good number of the games currently available. Hardcore gamers may not be impressed, but then the Latitude is a corporate animal not a games machine.

The output from the graphics chipset drives a 14.1-inch SXGA+ screen which has a native resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 pixels. Also available as a cheaper option is a 1,024 x 768 pixel, 14.1-inch XGA screen.

The reviewed D600 came with the standard 30GB hard drive but bigger options are available – 40GB (add £40 + VAT) and 60GB (add £110 + VAT) – while sitting in the single modular bay was a 24x/10x/24x CD-RW drive. This modular bay can house a number of different drives, but if you are upgrading from a previous Latitude model, you have to buy new modular drives as your old ones won’t fit the new D series.

For connecting to the outside world, you have a number of choices with the D600. Aside from the Wireless PCI card, it also comes with integrated Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000Mbps), integrated 56Kbps modem and an option to fit an internal BlueTooth card (add £19 + VAT).

On the opposite side of the chassis to the modular bay, there is a single Type II card slot and the slot for the integrated Smart Card reader. Joining these are the two audio ports and the IR port. The rear panel holds all the remaining ports; two USB 2.0, single LAN, modem, parallel, serial and VGA ports and an S-Video port. As there are no PS/2 ports, if you want to use an external mouse and keyboard, these will have to be USB items.

The D600′s keyboard is well positioned and feels solid to the touch, and has a pointing stick in the middle of it. If you don’t like using this, then a traditional touchpad is also built in. The four mouse buttons – two below the space bar and two below the touchpad – are like the keyboard; well built and responsive. To the left hand corner of the keyboard are the volume buttons.

The 4,400mAh battery combined with the Centrino technology gives the D600 a respectable battery life of around four hours.

Company: Dell

Contact: 0870 907 4155


Verdict
The Latitude D600 is a worthy successor to the previous range of Latitudes, with good performance and battery life. The one slightly annoying thing about it is that it doesn't accept the previous version's modular drives, so there's no upgrade path if you're an existing Dell customer.