Dell Latitude D600

  • Editors' rating
    8.1 Excellent

Pros

  • Good performance
  • dual-band wireless antennae fitted as standard
  • integrated Bluetooth option
  • common docking stations and media modules work in all D-series notebooks.

Cons

  • Older Latitude C-series docking stations or media modules are not supported.

The thin-and-light Latitude D600 series, based on the new Pentium M processor, marks the start of an ambitious new corporate look for Dell. Not only has the company redesigned all of its popular Latitude laptops, it has also reworked its docking stations, port replicators, and media modules. The notebooks carry the very latest components, including Pentium M processors and Intel's new 855 chipset. The D600 series isn't always a true-blue Centrino, but it can be. The company offers either the Centrino-completing Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Mini-PCI card, known as Calexico, or Dell Computer's own TrueMobile Wi-Fi Mini-PCI cards, supporting 802.11b/g or a/b/g. If your corporate budget includes money for a new notebook line, the Latitude D series is a wise way to spend it.

Design
If the old Latitude C600 was the comfort food of corporate computing, then the new Latitude D600 series would be the dessert. The silver D600 is a smaller, sleeker version of the grey C600, measuring 31.5cm by 25.6cm by 3.1cm and weighing 2.12kg without the AC adapter. It still includes an internal swappable bay that houses a second battery or one of various drives: CD, DVD, CD-RW, DVD/CD-RW, floppy or a second hard drive. Like the C600, the Latitude D600 series includes both a pointing stick in the middle of the spacious, comfortable keyboard and a touchpad centred in the wrist rest. There are four mouse buttons: two below the spacebar (you're supposed to use these with the pointing stick) and two below the touchpad. Three handy buttons for volume -- Up, Down, and Mute -- are located in the upper-left corner above the keyboard. If you'd rather rely on an external keyboard and mouse, Dell's new D/View monitor stand (£63 ex. VAT) and port replicator (£127 ex. VAT) make it easy to connect them. And in a unique twist, the monitor stand lets you use the notebook's screen as your main monitor, although setting it up takes some getting used to. First, you attach the notebook to the monitor stand, place that on the port replicator, and lift up the back of the port replicator (there's a hinge in front). Then open your notebook and slide the system up or down until the display reaches eye level. Finally, connect an external monitor and mouse, and you have a desktop-PC-like setup. There are two drawbacks to this setup: you might tire of looking at the laptop's keyboard propped up in front of you; and you might find the whole system difficult to use. The Latitude D600 has all of the standard ports and slots required for everyday business applications. Headphone and microphone jacks, an infrared port and one Type II PC Card slot line the left edge. The slot includes an embedded smart card reader that lets employees store and read their passwords and other info on optional smart cards (the cards are available in a number of sizes and prices from various third-party manufacturers). Two speakers with middling sound occupy the corners of the front edge. Two USB 2.0, S-Video-out, 56Kbps modem, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, parallel, VGA and serial ports stretch out across the rear of the system.

Features
The Pentium M processor on which this series is based comes in 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz speeds -- all paired with Intel's new 855PM chipset. You can order your Latitude with anything from 128MB to 2GB of fast 266MHz DDR SDRAM; a 40GB hard drive spinning at a speedy 5,400rpm or 20GB, 30GB and 60GB drives running at 4,200rpm; a 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics chip; and a number of swappable modules for the single internal bay, including CD, DVD, CD-RW, DVD/CD-RW, floppy, a second hard drive or a second battery. The average-sized 14.1in. screen isn't as impressive as some of the other components: it comes in either a fine 1,400 by 1,050 native resolution, or you can save a little money by dropping back to a 1,024 by 768 display. The configuration we tested included the 1.4GHz Pentium M processor, 256MB of DDR memory; a 20GB hard drive, the lower-resolution XGA display and ATI's Mobility Radeon 9000 with 32MB of video memory. Dell offers two wireless networking options, neither of which were fitted in our stripped-down review sample: the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 802.11b Mini-PCI card -- the third part of the Centrino puzzle -- or Dell's own TrueMobile 1300 802.11b/g and TrueMobile 1400 802.11a/b/g mini-PCI cards instead of Intel's. No matter which wireless card you choose, your Latitude D600 will conveniently include internal dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) wireless antennae. The Latitude D600's Type II PC Card slot also supports wireless cards. Built-in Bluetooth is another factory-install option costing £19 (ex. VAT). Dell shines in the software department, offering businesses the manageability applications they need to continue running smoothly. The company includes its long-standing OpenManage remote-manageability software for managing assets (that is, your notebook and its associated hardware), doing remote BIOS updates and more. Dell also preloads QuickSet, its new graphical user interface that provides easy access to your power-management settings and other controls. Dell doesn't offer office suites to its large enterprise customers, as most already have licenses in place. For small businesses, the company provides Microsoft Office XP Small Business Edition and Pro. Operating-system options span the range of business options: Windows 2000 Professional Service Pack 3; Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1; and Windows XP Home Service Pack 1.

Performance & battery life
Our review sample of the Latitude D600 was a good performer, even though it's based on the relatively lowly 1.4GHz version of the Pentium M processor with 256MB of RAM. Scores of 50.1 under Business Winstone 2001 and 29.4 under Content Creation Winstone 2002 show that it can handle most applications with aplomb. Thanks to its 32MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics chip, the XGA display is driven along at a fine rate – even when running demanding 3D applications, as the 3DMark 2001 score of 4,936 shows. The D600's standard battery is an 11.1V, 4,400mAh (48.8Wh) Li-ion unit, which isn't massive but manages to power the system for around 4 hours in desktop mode (3 hours 48 minutes under BatteryMark 4.01, 3 hours 59 minutes under MobileMark 2002). As usual, more stringent power management settings will boost battery life, but generally at the expense of performance.

Service & support
When you're an IT manager who's responsible for hundreds of systems, you want to know that your notebook manufacturer has your back covered. Dell offers its big-business customers just such extensive support, beginning with a three-year parts-and-labour warranty that includes on-site service beginning the next business day after reporting a problem. Free telephone support is also available for the life of the notebook. You can also access Dell's support Web site for medium-sized and large businesses. The site lets each business customise its own support page with the information that's most useful, choosing among file downloads, a large knowledge base and system-configuration and service-contract details.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Technology Intel Centrino
Wireless capabilities IEEE 802.11b
Notebook type Thin-and-light (4-6 lbs.)
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium M 725 / 1.6 GHz
Cache L2 - 2 MB
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 855PM
Features Enhanced SpeedStep technology, power-optimized processor system bus
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
Installed Size 2 MB
Memory
RAM 128 MB
Max Supported Size 2 GB
Technology DDR SDRAM
Speed 266 MHz / PC2100 - 266 MHz
Form Factor SO-DIMM 200-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Storage
Optical Drive CD-ROM removable
Type none
Read Speed 24x
Type portable
RAM
Memory Speed 266 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC2100
Technology DDR SDRAM
Installed Size 128 MB
Rated Memory Speed 266 MHz
Display
Resolution 1024 x 768 (XGA)
Widescreen Display No
Color Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.8 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation XGA
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor AGP 4x - ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 - 32 MB DDR SDRAM
Sound Stereo speakers
Hard Drive
Spindle Speed 4200 rpm
Type HDD
Capacity 40 GB
Input
Type DualPoint, keyboard
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11b
Wireless Controller Intel PRO/Wireless 2100
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Processor
CPU Type Pentium M
Processor Number 725
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.60 GHz
Optical Storage
Drive Type CD-ROM
Type 8X DVD
Form Factor removable
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Capacity 32 Wh
Technology lithium ion
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 Smart Card (1 free)
1 x PC Card (1 free)
Interfaces 1 x serial - RS-232 - 9 pin D-Sub (DB-9)
1 x parallel - IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP) - 25 pin D-Sub (DB-25)
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x display / video - S-video output
1 x infrared IrDA
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5 mm
1 x audio - line-out/headphones - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
2 x USB 2.0 4 pin USB Type A
1 x docking / port replicator 280 pin docking
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T - RJ-45
Header
Brand Dell
Product Line Dell Latitude
Model D600
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b
Compliant Standards IrDA 1.0, IrDA 1.1
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Wireless NIC Intel PRO/Wireless 2100
System
Platform Technology Intel Centrino
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 30 GB
Miscellaneous
Features administrator password, hard drive password, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), system password
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14.1 in
Color Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Graphics Controller
Interface Type AGP 4x
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.4 in
Depth 10.1 in
Height 1.2 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards AC '97
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Mainboard
Data Bus Speed 400 MHz
Chipset Type Intel 855PM
Physical Characteristics
Weight 4.63 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Type Drivers & Utilities
Video Output
Graphics Processor ATI Mobility Radeon 9000
Graphics Processor Series ATI Mobility Radeon
Video Memory
Technology DDR SDRAM
Installed Size 32 MB
Expansion Bays
Total Qty 1
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 3 years

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