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Dell Latitude D505

  • Editors' rating
    7.6 Very good

Pros

  • Unfussy design
  • good wireless connectivity
  • good battery life

Cons

  • Casing and keyboard a little too flexible
  • Moderate performance

Dell's Latitude D505 range is aimed at cost-conscious business buyers, with systems starting at just £699 (ex. VAT). The D505 is a straightforward two-spindle notebook that isn't especially thin (3.31cm) or light (2.3kg), despite Dell's classification, and which bears a close family resemblance to the Inspiron 510m that we recently reviewed. Because this is a 'business' notebook, the D505 is soberly clad in silver-grey plastic, and runs Windows XP Professional rather than Home. Although it's available in a range of Pentium M-based configurations, our review sample gave us the chance to evaluate the new Celeron M processor, which is a cut-down version of Intel's flagship mobile CPU.

Design
In terms of look and feel, the Latitude D505 is distinctly functional. Measuring 33.8cm wide by 27.3cm deep by 3.31cm high and weighing 2.3kg, it's built around a magnesium alloy chassis and clad in 'Moonlight Silver' (two-tone silver and grey plastic) casing. With its 14.1in. XGA screen, the D505 plants a considerably bigger-than-A4 footprint, and isn't something you'd want to carry in your briefcase on a regular basis. It looks handsome enough, although there's more flex in the screen and the keyboard than some potential purchasers might like. Image quality from the 14.1in. XGA display is fine, as is the layout of the 88-key keyboard. For navigation you get a basic two-button touchpad – no scroll buttons or pointing sticks here. The single media bay on the right-hand side accepts the same D-family modules as other Latitude models. Similarly, the 280-pin connector on the bottom supports the optional family-wide D/Port port replicator.

Features
You get a lot of choice when configuring the Latitude D505. As well as Pentium M processors at 1.4GHz or 1.5GHz, you can choose Intel's new Celeron M at 1.2GHz or 1.3GHz. The Celeron M is based on the same Banias core as the Pentium M, but has half the Level 2 cache (512KB) and lacks the Pentium M's support for Enhanced SpeedStep power management technology. Our review system had the base-level 1.2GHz Celeron M, along with 256MB of DDR333 RAM (expandable to 2GB). The chipset is Intel's 855GME, which includes integrated graphics that use up to 64MB of system memory. If you want to spend a little more, you can specify a bigger 15in. XGA display rather than the 14.1in. unit on our review system. For wireless networking you have the choice of a Centrino-standard Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 802.11b Mini-PCI card, as fitted on our review system, or a Dell TrueMobile 1300 802.11b/g card. Alternatively, for an extra £30 (ex. VAT), you can go the whole dual-band hog and have a TrueMobile 1400 802.11a/b/g card. For short-range wireless connectivity, an internal Bluetooth card is available for an extra £12 (this factory-install-only option was fitted on our review unit). Hard disks are available from 20GB up to 60GB (we had 30GB), all with Ultra-ATA/100 interfaces and 4,200rpm rotation speed. Optical storage is provided in a modular bay, where our system featured a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo unit. However, you can opt for a basic CD-ROM drive, a DVD-ROM drive or a top-end DVD+RW burner, while the modular bay also accepts a floppy drive (£33), a second 40GB hard drive (£250) or a second 48Whr Lithium polymer battery (£88). The standard battery is a 4-cell 4,700mAh Li-ion unit, although a 6-cell extended-life battery is also available. The D505 has a good set of legacy and more modern ports -- serial, parallel, VGA, S-Video out, FireWire (IEEE 1394), USB 2.0 (2) and infrared, plus RJ-11 for the V.92 modem and RJ-45 for the Intel PRO/100 VE network connection. There's a single Type II PC Card slot, but no built-in flash card reader. Windows XP Professional was pre-loaded on our review system, although for £20 more you can have Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4. Dell's Quickset utility is provided, which makes it easy to update system settings for power management, audio volume, screen brightness, wireless status and font scaling. Dell also provides backup and recovery tools as a free download from its Web site.

Performance & battery life
Given that it uses a relatively slow 1.2GHz Celeron M processor with half the Level 2 cache of its Pentium M cousins (512KB versus 1MB), we weren't expecting great performance from the Latitude D505 – especially as 512MB rather than 256MB of RAM (as fitted on our review sample) is now the norm for business notebooks. A MobileMark 2002 score of 115 certainly isn't anything to shout about – it lags behind every Pentium M system we've tested. However, as long as you restrict yourself to mainstream business applications, you shouldn't have any problem being productive with this system. It almost goes without saying, though, that the D505's integrated 855GME graphics with shared memory are not really up to the demands of 3D gaming or heavy-duty content creation applications. Battery life of just under 3.5 hours (3h 28m) is better, especially as we had the standard battery and ran the MobileMark 2002 test in desktop mode. With an extended-life battery, more conservative power management settings, and especially a second battery in the media bay, you should easily be able to get a day's work from the D505 away from a source of mains power.

Service & support
Dell offers a standard one-year European collect and return warranty, along with a year's accidental damage cover. There is a plethora of extended warranty options at various prices, all selectable along with your chosen configuration on Dell's Web site. Dell's Solution Center software provides links to electronic documentation, Web-based tutorials and live chat links to Dell technical support staff, and there are plenty of other online areas for discussing and resolving problems.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Notebook type Mid-size laptops (6-7.5 lbs.)
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium M 710 / 1.4 GHz
Cache L2 - 2 MB
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 855PM
Features Enhanced SpeedStep technology
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
Installed Size 2 MB
RAM
Memory Speed 333 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC2700
Technology DDR SDRAM
Installed Size 128 MB
Rated Memory Speed 333 MHz
Memory
Max Supported Size 2 GB
Technology DDR SDRAM
Speed 333 MHz / PC2700
Form Factor SO-DIMM 200-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Storage
Optical Drive DVD-ROM removable
Type none
Read Speed 8x
Type portable
Display
Resolution 1280 x 800 (WXGA)
Widescreen Display Yes
Diagonal Size (metric) 39.1 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation WXGA
Hard Drive
Type HDD
Capacity 40 GB
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor AGP 4x - NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200
Sound Stereo speakers
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wired Protocol 10/100 Ethernet
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD
Type CD-ROM
Form Factor removable
Processor
CPU Type Pentium M
Processor Number 710
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.60 GHz
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Capacity 72 Wh
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 4.5 hour(s)
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Expansion Bays 1 x front accessible -
Slots 2 x memory (1 free)
1 x PC Card (1 free)
Interfaces 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
2 x USB 2.0 4 pin USB Type A
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x display / video - S-video output - 7 pin mini-DIN
1 x audio - line-out/headphones - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5 mm
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
Header
Brand Dell
Product Line Dell Inspiron
Model 8600
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 30 GB
Monitor
Diagonal Size 15.0 in
Networking
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet
Miscellaneous
Features security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Graphics Controller
Interface Type AGP 4x
Dimensions & Weight
Width 14.2 in
Depth 10.9 in
Height 1.5 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards AC '97
Manufacturer Warranty
Service & Support Limited warranty - parts and labor - 1 year - on-site
Type 1 year warranty
Mainboard
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 855PM
Physical Characteristics
Weight 6.61 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Type Adobe Acrobat Reader 6, Corel WordPerfect Productivity Pack, Dell Media Experience, Drivers & Utilities, Paint Shop Pro (Trial)
Video Output
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200
Graphics Processor Series NVIDIA Geforce FX
Video Memory
Technology DDR SDRAM
Installed Size 32 MB
Expansion Bays
Total Qty 1
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Location on-site
Full Contract Period 1 year