Dell Latitude E-Series: Latitude E6320 review

9 Feb 2011

Dell’s ground-up redesign of the Latitude series is destined for the boardroom

PREVIEW: Allow your thoughts to drift into the world of business laptops, and your mind is unlikely to be filled with technicolour potential. With dumpy desktop replacements and dull black portables almost always the order of the day, business all too often means boring. That, however, is a cliché some brands seem keen to dispel – none more so than Dell, with its new Latitude range.

The major surprise is just how much has changed. While the likes of Lenovo’s ThinkPads have retained their classic (some might say dated) all-black design, the Latitude has evolved.

Set against the boxy, jet-black physique of last year’s range, the new models mark a sea-change in Dell’s mobile division. Anodised aluminium lids abound, while those stark, polygonal edges have softened into gentle, classy curves. The premium 6-series models are distinguished from their 5-series counterparts by a subtle orange trim circling the keyboard.

Dell Latitude E6320 - front

The real standout of the group, however, is the 13.3in Latitude E6320, an early pre-production sample of which we were given for this preview. Were it not for the Latitude logo subtly etched into the keyboard’s silver surround, you’d imagine this might be the first glimpse of Dell’s new XPS. For a business laptop, it’s still just the right side of striking – the muted palette of grey and silver stops short of all-out ostentatiousness and retains a serious, workmanlike air.

It’s the transformation in build quality that truly stuns. Previous Latitudes never felt insubstantial, but they wilt next to the new generation. Dell’s redesign has seen the new Latitude emerge with a reinforced magnesium alloy chassis, strengthened further by a ring of alloy running around the circumference of each laptop. With spill-proof keyboards and MIL-STD-810G accreditation across the range, Dell is taking on not only the ThinkPads, but also Panasonic’s Toughbooks at their own game.

If the E6320 is anything to go by, the new design feels indestructible. Despite weighing in at just 1.89kg, the chassis is rock solid and without a hint of flex to be found anywhere; the lid and reinforced metal hinges were taut enough to resist our most aggressive twisting motions. Prod viciously against the display’s rear, meanwhile, and there’s no sign of any show-through on the display itself. It’s clear this laptop will take transatlantic flights and the perils of boisterous baggage-handlers in its stride.

Details

Price inc VAT £0

Physical specifications

Dimensions 335 x 224 x 30mm (WDH)
Weight 1.860kg
Travelling weight 2.3kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2410M
Motherboard chipset Intel QM67 Express
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 1
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 2000
Graphics card RAM 772MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 250GB
Hard disk usable capacity 233GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Western Digital WD2500BEVT-75A23T0
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-U633J
Battery capacity 2,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support no

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad, trackpoint
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader yes
Carry case no

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Dell ControlPoint