Photos: Dell's Latitude E series claims 19-hour battery life

Dell lured us along to an important event yesterday, promising us an important announcement in 'mobility'. No, there were no netbooks, but there were laptops with a 19-hour battery life

Dell lured us along to an important event yesterday, promising us an important announcement in 'mobility'. Consulting our corporate-speak translator, we discovered this means laptops and deduced it would unveil its netbook (God knows, everyone else has), but in a surprise move, it treated us to a batch of new E-series Latitudes instead.

Stifle that yawn, geek! Because the E-series Latitudes are actually very promising. There's the 12.1-inch ultraportable E4200, which is our favourite, alongside the 13.3-inch E4300, the 14- and 15.4-inch E6400 and E6500 mainstream models, 14- and 15.4-inch E5400 and E5500 entry-level machines, and the E6400 ATG -- a semi-rugged version of the E6400. Phew.

We're assuming the people reading this aren't wearing suits, so we'll talk mostly about the E4200: it weighs less than 1kg (that's less than an Eee PC 1000), it has an LED backlit keyboard (like a MacBook Air), it has WiMax, 3G, 802.11n, GPS, Bluetooth, and it has ultra-wideband wireless capabilities -- which is about as comprehensive as it gets. Oh, and it's the first business laptop Dell has made that comes in several colours: red, pink, black and blue.

Dell reckons its E-series machines have better battery life than anything else in their class -- up to 19 hours. No, that's not a typo. What's more, Dell says it achieved this obscene figure using an industry-standard MobileMark 2007 battery test. That's pretty gasp-worthy.

Don't go getting your hopes up too high, though -- there are several caveats. 19 hours is only possible on E-series machines using a nine-cell battery and a 'battery slice' -- a thin battery that fits on to the bottom of the laptop. The standard battery on the E4200 is a four-cell unit, and the largest is a six-cell unit, so we're assuming it'll get somewhere in the region of 6 hours.

Prices and availability are unconfirmed at present, but we can tell you core specs while you wait. The E4200 will use a 1.4GHz SU9400 ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo CPU, up to 5GB of RAM -- if you choose the 64-bit version of Vista Business as your operating system -- 1,280x800-pixel display, and solid-state hard drives as big as 128GB.

We'll have samples of the E4200 in the near future, so you can expect a proper road test soon. Don't say we're not good to you. -Rory Reid

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