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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Dell Latitude X200 (Pentium III-M 800MHz review:

Dell Latitude X200 (Pentium III-M 800MHz

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The Good Excellent keyboard; useful media slice; three-year onsite warranty.

The Bad Somewhat pricey; so-so stamina with standard battery.

The Bottom Line For business travelers, Dell's Latitude X200 offers good features and performance, as well as the option of a versatile media slice.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

The Latitude X200 is the first Dell ultralight to offer a bottom-docking media slice (historically, Dell laptops have docked from the back). While the slice drives up the price of the total package, it also brings the Latitude X200 to the level of a desktop replacement. The slice has two media slots, which offers an impressive amount of configuration options. The model we tested included a floppy drive in one bay and a front-loading, 8X DVD/CD-RW combo drive in the other. And the slice is easy to use, due to the dual sliding locks. Frequent travelers will appreciate the Latitude X200's versatility, speed, and thoughtful design.The Latitude X200 is the first Dell ultralight to offer a bottom-docking media slice (historically, Dell laptops have docked from the back). While the slice drives up the price of the total package, it also brings the Latitude X200 to the level of a desktop replacement. The slice has two media slots, which offers an impressive amount of configuration options. The model we tested included a floppy drive in one bay and a front-loading, 8X DVD/CD-RW combo drive in the other. And the slice is easy to use, due to the dual sliding locks. Frequent travelers will appreciate the Latitude X200's versatility, speed, and thoughtful design.

Media frenzy
The $2,557 Latitude X200 we tested came with Intel's new 800MHz ultralow-voltage mobile Pentium III-M, 256MB of RAM, and a 30GB hard drive. Its media slice included a floppy drive in one bay and a front-loading, 8X DVD/CD-RW combo drive in the other. Thanks to dual sliding locks, attaching and releasing the slice is a cinch. Sans media slice, the notebook costs $1,999.

Small but well supplied
The Latitude X200 may be small, but it squeezes in a lot of features. It measure .8 inches thick by 10.7 inches wide by 8.9 inches deep and weighs 2.8 pounds. The AC adapter adds .49 pounds, while the media slice adds 2.46 pounds and doubles the notebook's thickness. Connectivity is good, with one IEEE 1394 (FireWire), one Ethernet, one modem, one audio, and two USB ports. The single Type II PC Card slot is nice, but rather than a spring-loaded door, it comes with a flimsy, plastic dummy card that'd be easy to break or lose. Dell meets you halfway on 802.11b wireless networking; you get dual antennae inside the system, but you have to purchase the optional TrueMobile 1150 mini-PCI wireless card ($149) to make them work or use a wireless card in the PC Card slot.

The display and the input devices (the components you'll use the most) are well designed. The 12.1-inch, XGA (1,024x768), active-matrix screen is small--a typical ultralight trade-off--but it's bright and crisp. Atypical for an ultralight, the keyboard is nearly full-sized and feels as big and comfortable as a desktop's. Nestled in the wrist rest is a smooth-feeling touchpad with two mouse buttons underneath. The front speakers are standard, adequate-sounding notebook fare.

Average speed, battery life
It's unclear whether the low-voltage processor helped the Latitude X200; the Dell's standard six-cell battery conked out after just 114 minutes in CNET Labs' tests, which is normal for an ultralight. By comparison, the Toshiba Portégé 2000 lasted only 92 minutes on its primary battery, but the Gateway 200 held on for 161 minutes. If you need more juice, squeeze out another $199 for the X200's optional second battery, an eight-cell pack.

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