Dell has revamped its business notebooks, introducing six new Latitude laptops and two Precision mobile workstations. The new models are a clear indication that even with its business lines Dell is continuing its efforts to get away from gray boxes and differentiate its PCs--both in design and features.
The new models have magnesium alloy cases, come in several colors, and have metal display hinges similar to those on Lenovo ThinkPads. Not surprisingly the new line is based on Intel Centrino 2 processors and chip sets, and several offer DDR3 memory. (Though Dell had only one or two Latitudes that offered AMD chips, it is worth noting that the business laptops are once again exclusively Intel.) Several models now offer SSDs--in some cases up to 128GB. At the Flash Memory Summit this week, a panelist from Dell said the 128GB drive would be roughly a $500 option. That may sound like a lot, but 64GB drives were nearly twice that price only a few months ago. Other nice touches include LED-backlit displays, backlit keyboards, and USB ports that can charge cell phones and MP3 players even when the system is powered off.
The Latitude E4200 and E4300 are ultraportables. The E4200 has a 12.1-inch LED backlit display, Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage processors up to the 1.4GHz SU9400, up to 5GB of DDR3 memory, Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics, and either a 64GB or 128GB SSD. Dell said it will be its smallest and lightest Latitude ever, weighing in at 2.2 pounds. The E4300, with its 13.3-inch LED backlit display, is a bit bigger (3.3 pounds), but that gets you room for standard voltage processors up to the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400. If you choose Windows Vista 64-bit, you can go up to a full 8GB of DDR3 memory. Other specs are similar though you can choose between a 64GB SSD or standard hard disk drives. Both will be available in "coming weeks," but Dell hasn't announced pricing.
The two ultraportables will also offer a new feature, Dell Latitude ON, which uses a low-voltage subprocessor and micro-OS to give you "near-instant" access to e-mail, calendar, attachments, contacts and Web browsing without booting Windows. Acer offers this feature on some laptops.
The E6400 and E6500 are mainstream models. Dell said the E6400 will deliver as many as 19 hours of battery life, but there's a lot of fine print on this one--the configuration included a 9?cell battery, a battery slice, integrated graphics, and an SSD. Still it's an impressive number. The E6400 has a 14.1-inch display and up to 8GB of DDR2 memory; the E6500 has a 15.4-inch display and up to 8GB of DDR3 memory. Other specs are identical: Intel Core 2 Duo processors up to the 2.8GHz T9600, , Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics or the Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M1 256MB, and a choice of a 64GB SSD or standard hard disk drives. The upgraded graphics also gets you higher resolution, LD-backlit displays. The E6400 starts at $1,139 and the E6500 starts $1,169; both are available immediately. Dell will also offer a ruggedized version of the 14.1-inch model, the E6400 ATG, starting at $2,399.
Finally, the 14.1-inch Latitude E5400 and 15.4-inch E5500 are budget models. Both offer Celeron M or Intel Core 2 Duo processors, DDR2 memory, Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics, and standard hard disk drives. The E5400 starts at $839 and the E5500 starts at $869; both are available immediately.
In addition to the 14.1-inch Precision M2400 and 15.4-inch Precision M4400 workstations, Dell gave a preview of a new 17-inch concept workstation with "upcoming" quad-core processors, 16GB of memory, a graphics card with 1GB of dedicated memory and a total 1TB of storage across two drives. This is Dell's response to the no-holds-barred 17-inch workstations that HP and Lenovo have been talking up lately.