IntroDell's new Latitude D400 series is one of the fastest, best-looking, and most affordable Pentium M ultraportables on the market. We recently tested the speediest version of the Latitude D400, featuring a 1.7GHz Pentium M processor. The new model is slightly faster than the 1.3GHz version we tested, and it does have longer battery life. But its battery life still trails the scores posted by competing notebooks. Nevertheless, the D400 offers an impressive array of wireless options, ranging from standard 802.11b, which can make this a true Centrino notebook, to various combinations of 802.11a, b, and g. Businesses will also like the built-in smart-card reader, and everyone should appreciate the low starting price.
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The Latitude D400 includes a pointing stick (not pictured) and this touchpad-and-mouse-button setup.
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|The well-made, solid keyboard continues a Dell tradition. |
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|The unique docking station adds more flexibility.|
Like other Latitude models, the Latitude D400 includes both a pointing stick located in the center of the full-size, superfirm, comfortable keyboard and a touchpad in the wrist rest. Including both a touchpad and a pointing stick gives users a nice range of input options. Dell has managed to pack an impressive assortment of features into the Latitude D400. For starters, this system is available with 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, and 1.7GHz Pentium M processors.
Because of its compact size, the Latitude D400 is available only with a 12.1-inch display. We found the screen, especially at its native 1,024x768 resolution, to be bright and crisp, especially for an ultraportable notebook. You can also configure the system with up to 64MB of video memory.
Though Dell's standard configuration for the Latitude D400 is a Centrino setup--meaning it includes an Intel Pentium M processor, the 855 chipset, and Intel's own 802.11b Pro/wireless card--you can upgrade to one of Dell's TrueMobile cards, which come in two flavors: 802.11b/g or 802.11a/b/g. The Latitude D400 also includes an integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, as well as a 56Kbps V.92 modem.
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|The external drive connects to this USB 2.0 port.|
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|The external drive bay allows for many expansion options.|
Though the system includes two USB 2.0 ports, the external D/Bay drive, which you get automatically with the notebook, takes up one of them. You'll also find a single FireWire port and an integrated smart-card reader, which comes in handy if your business uses that security technology. A four-cell 28-watts-per-hour battery is standard, though you can upgrade to a six-cell, smart lithium-ion model.
While the system we tested shipped with Windows XP Professional, other options include Windows XP Home and Windows 2000 Professional. You can skip an office suite entirely or opt for either Office XP Small Business Edition or Office XP Professional. We recently tested an updated version of the Dell Latitude D400 with a 1.7GHz Pentium M. This new version scored higher than the previous 1.3GHz version but only by a small amount. Thanks to the combination of its 512MB of RAM and a 5,400rpm hard drive, both versions of the Latitude D400 beat the Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A and the IBM ThinkPad X31. We should note that the two competing systems had different specs: The Sony VAIO Z1A had 512MB of RAM but only a 4,200rpm hard drive. The IBM ThinkPad X31 had the same 5,400rpm hard drive as the Latitude D400, but the former had only 256MB of RAM. Both versions of the Latitude D400 hit the specs sweet spot, allowing them to beat the competition.
| Mobile application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
Find out more about how we test notebooks.
Dell Latitude D400
Windows XP Pro; 1.3GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); Hitachi DK23EB-40 40GB 5,400rpm
Dell Latitude D400
Windows XP Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller-0 (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm
IBM ThinkPad X31
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 16MB; Hitachi DK23EB-40 40GB 5,400rpm