- Excellent performance
- flexible configuration
- Operational glitches with the dual touchpad/pointing stick system.
Standing 3.5cm high and weighing 2.7kg (3.1kg with the AC adapter), Dell's Latitude C600 can hardly be described as 'thin-and-light'. However, its functionality has more in keeping with true desktop replacement systems.
The 850MHz system we tested offered excellent performance, long battery life, two modular bays and even a built-in antenna for wireless networking. Although the Latitude C600 will take up more space in your laptop bag than most mid-range systems, its bulk leaves enough room for an extra modular bay and allows it to carry a big enough battery to attain almost 3.5 hours running time -- benefits that many users may find worth the trade-off. With its 850MHz Mobile Pentium III SpeedStep processor, 128MB of RAM, and 10GB hard drive, the Latitude C600 is also a top-notch performer in other areas. In fact, the Latitude C600 is the fastest notebook we've tested under Windows 2000, returning a Business Winstone 99 score of 39.9. The quality of the Latitude C600's 14.1in. TFT display is very good. Our review sample's XGA-resolution screen had no noticeable 'dead' pixels or artefacts, and DVD movie playback quality through the eight-speed LG drive and InterVideo WinDVD software was smooth. Dell's S-Video port (with included composite video adapter) allows you to display presentations or (with the optional DVD drive) movies on TV screens. When we played audio tracks, the side-mounted stereo speakers were about par for the type, delivering a flat sound. There's no hardware volume control, so if you do use this notebook to play music, you'll need to keep a volume control screen open or remember the function key combinations. Hard drive and memory upgrades are easy with the Latitude C600, requiring the removal of one screw in each case. Another new feature is an integrated antenna for 802.11b wireless networking: by the first quarter of next year, you'll be able to add an internal miniPCI 802.11b card and free yourself from network cables. The Latitude C600's hybrid cooling system, which combines passive heat sinks with a variable speed active fan, results in a cool-running system. The keyboard is quiet and comfortable, but the dual-mode touchpad and pointing stick, each with control buttons, is a decidedly mixed blessing. Having a choice of pointing devices is great, but there are some drawbacks. For example, we found that the touchpad caused unwanted cursor movement when we used the pointing stick because of misplaced palms. However, if you disable the touchpad using Windows 2000's control panel, it also disables all four of the actuation buttons -- oddly, this didn't happen in reverse when we disabled the pointing stick and left the touchpad enabled. A single programmable function key can be configured to access a favourite Web site or service. It's a bit bulkier than the other mid-range notebooks in its class, the Dell Latitude C600 is a solidly built notebook that offers an excellent combination of performance, battery power and expandability, backed by a strong service and support program.