Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)
Alienware 14 (Core i7, 16GB, 256GB SSD, Nvidia GTX765M)stars
No complaints about the performance, but the design changes don't go nearly far enough.
The Dell Latitude E6220 probably isn't for you, unless you're a business traveler who needs something more rugged than a MacBook Air, has a nearly infinite budget, and requires TPM or vPro.
I don't mean to be dismissive, but this admittedly powerful 12.5-inch Dell laptop, while having impressive performance and battery life, tops the charts at a whopping $1,663 starting price for specs that are really no different than you'd find on a laptop that costs half as much. The Latitude E6220 dates from the end of 2011, but even so, it seems like a device that's out of step with the thin ultrabook trend in laptops, despite having a handful of military-spec rugged features.
If the Latitude E6220 started at a reasonable price--$700, for instance--I'd be more inclined to recommend it. After all, while it's thick and not entirely attractive, it's well-featured and gets the job done in a reasonably compact package. Still, when a laptop makes the MacBook Air look like a bargain, you know you're in for a tough sell...even for a rugged business laptop. If you're not working on a construction site or in the desert, the HP Folio 13 is a far better alternative bet--or, wait for the soon-to-be-released Dell XPS 13, but if you need hard-core protection, be prepared to pay through the nose for it.
|Price as reviewed / starting price||$2,016 / $1,663|
|Processor||2.6 GHz Intel Core i5-2540M|
|Memory||4GB, 1,333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||128GB SSD|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||12.2 x 8.9 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||12.5 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||3.7/4.4 pounds|
The Dell Latitude E6220 is solidly built and meant to take a beating somewhere between a ThinkPad and a ToughBook, but from a distance it looks like a plastic-clad, inferior version of Dell's Vostro series. It's actually the other way around: this Latitude is the high-end cousin to the Vostro.
A "Tri-Metal" design refers to an anodized aluminum back lid, magnesium alloy corners, and a powder-coated magnesium base. The rear hinges are steel; the keyboard is spill-resistant. You get the picture: this is a laptop that can take a beating. It's also pretty lightweight: ours weighed in at 3.7 pounds. That's more than an ultrabook like the HP Folio 13, but less than a standard laptop. It feels thick and chunky, though, for two reasons: while the Latitude E6220 is actually 0.97 inch thick, the 12.5-inch laptop has a small footprint, accentuating the thickness. Plus, a rear lip behind the lid adds secret chunkiness to the back end, even more so if you're clipping on the six-cell battery. The whole package is thicker than any 12-inch laptop we've seen in recent memory. Yet, this Latitude lacks an optical drive. There doesn't seem to be any advantage for the extra thickness besides shock absorption, although there's, except that there's a dock port on the base.
The backlit keyboard has a semi-raised design like recent Dell laptops, but it feels comfortable to type on. The wide but small touch pad is similarly quite responsive, but it's too small for multitouch gestures. Discrete buttons lie underneath. A few dedicated volume control buttons above the keyboard are appreciated.
A 12.5-inch matte screen protects against glare, but the picture, while bright, wasn't especially vivid when watching movies on Netflix. It's better suited for office work: the 1,366x768-pixel resolution matches anything normally seen on a 13-incher. Stereo speakers seated on the underside of the Latitude's front edge offer fair sound at middling volume; you'll need to put on headphones in a moderately noisy room.
The included Webcam takes 1,280x720-pixel pictures and has a fair image quality, nothing impressive.
|Dell Latitude E6220||Average for category [ultraportable]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jack||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, SD card reader, ExpressCard slot||2 USB 2.0, 1 UDB 3.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband and WiMax||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
Business users will appreciate the sensible ports on the Latitude E6220: eSATA, ExpressCard, HDMI, VGA. Ethernet and the power jack are on the rear lip. Dell offers a ton of extra add-ons, everything from Bluetooth to fingerprint reader, light-sensitive Webcam upgrade and WiMax antenna, but they'll cost you: $20 here, $30 there. It adds up. A Gobi 3000 wireless broadband card in any major carrier flavor costs $125.
Processor-wise, the Latitude E6220 starts with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M CPU; at the top end, you can upgrade all the way to a 2.8 GHz Core i7-2640M for an extra $120. Our configuration had the middle-level 2.6 GHz Core i5-2540M CPU, which served up zippy speeds comparable to the HP Pavilion dm4-3090se (both have the same CPU). This Dell Latitude outperformed the HP Folio 13, which used, like all ultrabooks, a lower-speed Core i5 CPU. This Latitude only has Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics: that's more than enough for a business traveler, but it's not sufficient for a power graphics user.
The base Latitude E6220 comes with 4GB of RAM and a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive. RAM can be expanded up to 8GB on Dell's Web site for an extra $175, while users can shift over to a solid-state 128GB SSD for an extra $230, or 256GB for $580. Thus it comes as no surprise that we added up our 128GB SSD-equipped model and rang up a total of $2,016. For matters of reference, consider that you could get a 256GB SSD-equipped MacBook Air for $1,599.
Sure, the MacBook Air isn't vPro-enabled. It lacks a fingerprint reader option, and it doesn't come with a three-year warranty, which the Latitude E6220 includes standard (AppleCare costs an extra $300). Still, what Dell's asking for this Latitude is quite a lot to swallow, durability or no.