Dell Latitude E6420 review

Reviews 31 Aug, 2011

Dell's latest business laptop may have odd, retro-like looks but it's crammed full of the latest technology. Is this enough to make it the best portable computer for your workforce? Read our review to find out.

4
Price: 
£903
ex VAT
Verdict: 
The Dell Latitude E6420 is a good, if slightly odd laptop. It's fast with plenty of ports, a reasonably comfortable set of input devices and a lengthy warranty. It also has surprisingly good battery life, even though it's relatively heavy. It's also very configurable, with lots of options to customize it to suit your needs. However, it's a shame those extras cost more on an already pricy laptop. If you don't need this flexibility or Dell's guarantee of EFI freezes, the 15.6in HP ProBook 4530s is a similarly specified alternative, but with a more comfortable keyboard at a lower price. Its battery life isn't as long as the Latitude's, but for most potential buyers that's of secondary importance in a laptop of this size and weight.

Ultra-portable laptops get all the attention, but for many office workers who don't travel all the time but need a portable computer to carry occasionally from place-to-place the humble 14in and 15in laptop is the workhorse of choice. The Latitude E6420 is Dell's latest business-oriented 14in laptop and, as expected from Dell, it can be customised to have almost everything you need in an office computer.

Although the Latitude E6420 has a good-looking aluminium lid, the rest of the laptop looks utilitarian. The black and silver plastic build has a retro appearance which is only emphasised by the odd orange piping around the keyboard. It's not going to win any beauty awards, but that's hardly a concern for most businesses. More importantly it feels rigid and sturdy, although some of the plastics did creak under pressure more than we'd like. The underside did become a little warm when processor-intensive applications were running, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot.

The Latitude E6420 has a good-looking aluminum lid, but the rest of the laptop looks utilitarian at best.

The E6420 is chunky and a bit heavy at 2.39kg. This may not sound like much, but paired with its thick build, this isn't a laptop we'd want to carry around all day on trains, planes and automobiles. If you do insist on travelling with it regularly though, you'll benefit from its surprisingly long battery life – it lasted over seven hours in our light usage web browsing test. This is long enough to put some ultra-portable laptops to shame. The lid doesn't have an L-shaped hinge to reduce its height, but it does tilt all the way back so it's parallel to the keyboard so it should be possible to find a comfortable viewing angle when it's placed on your lap in cramped conditions.

Specifications: 

SPECIFICATIONS

Processor: Intel Core i5 2540M, 2.6GHz

Memory: 4GB 667MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics

Hard disk: 320GB hard disk

Display: 14in 1,366 x 768, LED-backlit screen

Features: microphone, stereo speakers, smartcard reader

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0

Ports: 3 x USB2, 1x USB2/eSATA combo, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x ExpressCard/54, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket

Dimensions: 353x243x31mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 2.39kg

Warranty: three year C&R warranty with next business day service

OS: Windows 7 Professional 32-bit

BENCHMARK RESULTS

Image editing 48

Video encoding 56

Multiple apps 54

Overall 54

Light usage battery life – 7h13m

POWER CONSUMPTION

Sleep 1W

Idle 24W

Active 45W