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
Here's the right side of the laptop. There's not an awful lot to show off, but see that ridge jutting out the side of the screen? That's an aerial, that is. There's another one on the opposite side and together they combine, Power Ranger-style, to make the E series hella potent in the wireless stakes.
The left side has a D-Sub port, a DisplayPort video output, plus a couple of audio jacks. As promised, the second wireless antenna is also located on the edge of the screen lid.
The battery is a different colour to the rest of the laptop. That's a shame, but it seems to be a recurring trend. The Lenovo S9 and S10 sport the same look, so maybe we should get used to seeing it in the future.
A close-up of the keyboard reveals a fingerprint reader for secure logins. There's also a Centrino 2 sticker, which basically indicates it has good battery life and is Wi-Fi'd up to the eyeballs.