This is the first total redesign of the D series of laptops that Dell has done in about 5 years. New docking stations that can now support dual monitors out with DVI or Display port is just one of the new added features that the docking stations have introduced. The new system now has eSATA, Display Port, 1394, SD Card reader, and Contactless smart card readers. When configuring the system you now have the option to pick if you want the old PCMCIA card slot or the new Express Card.
They updated the keyboard with another option that you can add backlighting to the keyboard. This makes the keyboard easy to see in very low light. The LCD has an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the backlighting of the monitor. Another option that is available is a web cam in the monitor. This will make it easy for the user to use video chat programs, and anything that allows you the use of a web cam.
The inverted motherboard really helps keep the temperature of the bottom of the laptop cooler than previous version of the D series of laptops from Dell. I did however find that if you sit a glass of water on the left side of the laptop and make the processor work hard, it will warm up the glass of what rather quickly. The bottom of the laptop didn’t get as hot as my Latitude D830 at rest even when working the new E6400 at max speeds.
With the 9 Cell battery I have been averaging about 7 ½ hours of run time. This is not really a normal use, but with lots of installing of software, and testing different power options. I think if you would use it at a normal pace like typing and surfing the internet you may get 8 – 9 hours of battery life on this model.
This model also has the option for a fingerprint reader, which was purchased on this model, for future security setups down the road. The E-Module can store a second battery and you can also get a battery slice for this model, when can extend your battery life to 12 hours. The standard CD-RW/DVD drive was what I picked for this purchase, there is a DVD+-RW drive option, and I am hoping a blu-ray option will come along later.
Once the system was open we found that there where a total of three mini-Express PCI card locations for the system. One is taken up by the WiFi, card. The second and third, have options for Cell phone internet connections, and other wireless networking technologies. Bluetooth is still an USB type connection that is plugged into the motherboard.
The new touchpad now has the sideways scrolling and standard scrolling displaying on the touchpad. Also a standard volume up, down, and mute buttons at the top of the keyboard.
With this being the new Centrino 2 design with a 2.8Ghz processor, I ran it on GeekBench. The system performs at 3000+ on the GeekBench test, and compared to my XPS420 Core 2 Quad which is 4000+ and my D820 Intel Core Duo 2.16Ghz which is 2000+ I think this is a very nice upgrade for people replacing a laptop that is three or more years old, and a desktop that is four or more years old.
4GB of ram installed on the system helps it fly with opening programs and handling anything I could throw at it in the short time I had to test it. Windows Vista Ultimate works as a perfect match for this, Vista Business will fly as well, and just you don’t get the added security of file encryption that is missing from Vista Business.
Also I would say that the nVidia graphics card option is a must for this system. This gives you the extra graphics power you need to run two monitors without affecting the performance of the system.
I will add links to GeekBench and pictures of the laptop in the coming days, and after the recording of our podcast College Friends in the Wild Episode 27, which can be found at www.cfitw.com.