The Latitude E6500 is – as ever from Dell – highly configurable, and the base price, while it might be attractive, will almost certainly not be what most people end up paying. However, the ability to configure a laptop to the degree that Dell allows does mean you can fiddle endlessly with specs.
Beginning with the heart of the laptop, this machine is based around an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 (2.26GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB) with 1GB of memory and Intel 4500MHD graphics.
Screen resolution is probably the most interesting factor of all where this laptop is concerned. The 15.4-inch display comes at 1280 x 800 pixels in the lowest priced configuration. The one we saw was 1440 x 900 pixels and choosing that will add £87 (plus VAT) to the price. If you can stretch to adding £150 to the base price you can go for 1920 x 1200 pixels, an amazingly high resolution for the screen size. Just be sure your eyes can cope with the squint-inducingly small text size.
Two things you do get as standard, whatever other options you choose, are a keyboard backlight and screen brightness sensor. We liked both a lot. The keyboard backlight can be calibrated to automatically adjust according to the ambient light conditions or be turned off if you want to conserve battery power. The screen brightness sensor is a direct steal from the world of mobile phones and we were impressed. Again you can disable it if you want direct control over the screen brightness.
The cursor control system is twofold. A touchpad and a stick between the G, H and B keys are supplemented by four mouse buttons, two above and two below the touchpad. Below the touchpad a third button turns the stick into a left, right, up and down scroller; ideal for web browsing, though vertical and horizontal scrolling are also built into the touchpad.
There is a fingerprint sensor included in the base price which is good news, but you may need to pay a bit extra on the OS front to move on from Vista Home Basic, and you may also want to move on from the integrated graphics to a dedicated chipset. Wi-Fi is included but again you need to stump up to get Draft N support and to add Bluetooth. A webcam is another optional extra. And of course there are various processors on offer for a price.
Hard drive sizes range from 80GB to 250GB and there is even an optional 64GB SSD drive available. There are three USB ports, Firewire, card reader, ExpressCard, eSATA, PC Card, microphone, headphones and VGA connectors, plus a CD/DVD drive.
You can even invest in a battery slice to enhance the life of the supplied battery. We found the standard one was good enough for two and a half hours of movie watching.
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