Although assessing a PC’s merits should obviously be based on performance under the bonnet, there’s no denying that first impressions still count for something in the minds of many buyers.
With the new Latitude D620, a solid all-round business notebook, Dell seems to have shaken off its tendency towards an industrial design that was businesslike and frankly, a bit dull.
The laptop banishes that notion with a brushed metal exterior and a matt black finish on the inside that’s very easy on the eye. It’s not the heaviest of machines by any means — the starting weight is just 2kg, rising a little more if you choose to customise it.
That’s a good thing because this portable is intended for use on the move, with a raft of wireless connectivity options including dual-band Wi-Fi for connecting to any 802.11 a, b or g network. A neat addition is a special Dell Wi-Fi Catcher that constantly scans for wireless hotspots and notifies you whenever it detects one.
It can also be supplied with an integrated radio, so that you can connect to the internet via the mobile phone network when you’re out of Wi-Fi coverage. The widescreen display renders really fast and there’s no performance degradation when shaping and resizing windows when web browsing, for example.
As someone who writes for a living, I think the move to widescreen in laptops is a welcome one; it’s easy to see a lot more of a Word document, for instance, or to have two files open side by side simultaneously.
The screen goes into power-saving mode when the laptop isn’t plugged into the mains and it tends to darken a little when it does so, but otherwise the display is bright and crisp, showing documents or presentations in fine detail. The speaker quality is excellent and surprisingly loud.
In an unusual belt-and-braces approach, the notebook not only has a trackpad for controlling the mouse but also a pointer located between the keys. I’m not sure about the logic of having both but as a pointer fan, I’m not complaining.
Battery charge features are increasingly important for laptop users and Dell has clearly put a lot of thought into this. The D620 can be bought with a 6- or 9-cell battery and when it’s plugged into the mains it’s very quick to recharge: a very handy quick recharge function will give an 80pc charge in an hour, Dell claims.
Being a Dell, the price is also very reasonable and at €1,252 for a basic configuration it shouldn’t break the bank.
Value for money ****
By Gordon Smith