Dell Latitude D620 review

18 May 2006

Fast, well built and superbly featureD - our business laptop of choice

Price when reviewed 
999
5

The new Latitude D620 has a lot to live up to. Both of its predecessors, the D600 and the D610, resided for long spells on the A List. Dell has risen to the challenge by making some sweeping changes to the design. It's gone widescreen and dual-core for a start, and there's also a snazzier colour scheme replacing the sober charcoal of old.

Our system (E-Value code MAG-620PCP) utilises a 2GHz T2500 Core Duo inside and scored 1.02 in our application benchmarks, thanks in part to a sensible 1GB of RAM. There are several SKUs of the D620 with differing CPUs, amounts of RAM and various screen resolutions, but some features, as well as accessories such as docking stations, are consistent throughout the range.

All the new models have widescreens, with our D620 having a resolution of 1,440 x 900. The screen itself is bright and clear and offers a very practical size of Desktop, as well as good colour performance. The 16:9 aspect ratio is a definite plus for working on spreadsheets or email, as well as a spot of after-hours DVD watching.

The weight has remained roughly the same, and at 2.64kg the D620 is just 14g heavier than the D610. That's 350g lighter than the previous A-List business notebook, the Lenovo ThinkPad R52, making it far better for carrying to and from meetings. The nine-cell battery, which protrudes from the front of the machine by 25mm, accounts for 520g of that weight. There are smaller batteries available, but this option provided a spectacular 3hrs 11 mins under heavy use, and 6hrs 24mins under light use, making the D620 a laptop you could potentially use on the road all day. There's also an ambient light sensor beneath the screen, adjusting the brightness according to how well-lit your surroundings are, helping to eke out more battery life.

Although Dell doesn't make any cast-iron guarantees about the durability of the D620, it's been through a series of factory tests to ensure it can handle all manner of spills and knocks. It certainly feels solid and should survive the treatment all but the clumsiest can dish out. The base and LCD back are made from magnesium alloy, and the strike zone on the bottom of the unit means that, if the unit is dropped flat on the floor, shock waves are dissipated laterally away from the hard disk, posing less of a threat to the components.

The hard disk itself is an 80GB model, although it's possible to specify a disk size of up to 100GB. Removable storage options are more limited: there's no memory card reader and the standard optical drive is a CD-RW/DVD-ROM model, and it will cost an extra £30 for a DVD writer.

This minor failing is more than compensated for elsewhere, though. The keyboard is exemplary in both layout and feel, and while it doesn't quite match up to the best that Lenovo's ThinkPads can offer, we had no complaints working at it for extended periods.

Elsewhere, Dell has caught up with Lenovo in terms of security, and the embedded TPM chip offers hardware encryption all the way from turning on the Latitude in the morning to accessing files in encrypted vaults. The fingerprint reader between the mouse buttons is a useful addition, and you can use it to unlock the Latitude before it even begins to boot. Setting up all the security options is a fiddly process, but it only needs doing once and offers a serious level of security for your data. It's also possible to add a Computrace subscription to your order, enabling the laptop to be found if it's stolen and consequently connected to the internet, for £32 per year.