Our team just went through a hardware refresh and the large majority of us all chose the new Dell e4300. We are just starting to get our feet wet with them but Montreal MVP Dan Nerenberg has have his e6400 for a few months now and wanted to share his thoughts. If you have an interesting piece of hardware or a gadget you’d like to share an experience on, shoot us an email we’d love to post your thoughts!
Back in September I decided it was time for a new laptop. Conveniently Dell had just released its new E-series laptops based on the Intel Centrino 2 platform. There were several models that interested me, and it was a tough decision to choose the right model. My requirements were:
Good performance: I usually have anywhere from 5 to 10 VMs for various projects on my computers at any given time. In order to run them effectively I needed something that run 2-3 VMs at once. This also meant supporting Hardware Virtualization (for hyper-v support) and a fast hard drive.
Support for a large memory footprint: Adding memory to a laptop is one of the easiest ways to increase performance, and with the tendency for memory to consistently fall in price month after month I wanted something that could be upgraded to 8Gb
Good sized screen: My last laptop had a 13.3 inch screen. It was ok for most apps, but I was starting to feel cramped.
Portability: My last real want was something that I didn’t have to lug around. This need tends to conflicts with my previous needs.
After careful consideration, and a visit to the Future of Computing tour put on by Dell where I could take a look at the laptop I decided on the Dell E6400 series laptop. Here are the specs for the model I chose:
• T9600 (2.80GHZ) Core 2 DUO
• 4GB Ram
• 250GB HDD 7200RPM
• NVidia Quadro NVS 160M
• 14 inch wide screen LED backlit display
• Backlit Keyboard
• 6 cell and 9 cell batteries
• A/G/N Intel Wifi Card
• Bluetooth, Finger print Reader, TPM, eSATA Port, Smart Card Reader, RFID reader
This laptop is solid. The body is made from magnesium alloy, and the hinges are made from high grade metal. There is no flex in the body of the laptop. And the keyboard feels solid when you type on it. The screen is gorgeous. The colours really pop off the screen and the LED backlit makes a huge difference when it comes to colour consistency from various viewing angles. The laptop is definitely fast, But Quite! When idling, or just writing you can barely hear the cooling system. When you load up a VM or a 3D intensive application the laptop does become a bit louder, but this is understandable.
Finally the last element that I was very impressed with was battery life. First let me just state that manufactures often state estimated battery life of a laptop with all the battery conservation settings maxed out. This usually means little to no power going to the backlit, CPU speed reduced, and various other options turned down or off in order to provide the advertised battery life. This has always been unrealistic for me. I like having my screen on full brightness and my system working at 100% capacity. Well with the 9 Cell batteries I’m pushing upwards of 4 hours! That’s with the system set to high performance. In fact the battery was so good I only took out my power bar for the first time a month after I got the laptop!
This brings me to the small pain points that I experienced. For some reason I got shipped a travel power supply that wasn’t powerful enough to power the laptop and charge the battery at the same time. Luckily I also ordered a docking station that prevented this from being a major problem for me. None the less I have to commend the dell team I dealt with to resolve this issue. I made 1 phone call, and was passed directly from technical support to customer care. After we discussed the issue a reasonable compromise was reached and I shipped the power supply I needed. All in all it was a smooth interaction, and one of the better experiences dealing with a customer care team.
So far with regards to the laptop’s performance and usability I really can’t be more content. The backlit keyboard is one of my favourite new features, and everyone notices it right away. Great for those red eye flights where you want to work, but don’t want to turn on the cabin light and annoy the people around you.
If you’re looking to update older C and D class latitudes the E series are definite winners. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at Latitudes I strongly recommend testing an E series. For large orders Dell has some really compelling enterprise services around deployment.