A self-actualized laptop

GCN Lab Review: Dell Latitude e6400 laptop PC goes beyond the basics to offer business users real power and punch

The Dell Latitude e6400 laptop PC

Back in the 1940s, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the
idea of a hierarchy of needs. At the bottom of the pyramid are
physical needs like air, food and water. Then the next level is
filled with safety concerns, such as the need for employment and
health. The pyramid progresses through more levels until it reaches
the top, which Maslow called “self-actualization.” Once
all the other needs are met, the individual or organization can
develop this top level of true creativity and spontaneity.

Dell Latitude e6400 laptop PCYou could call
the Dell Latitude e6400 laptop PC a self-actualized machine. It
goes beyond the basic needs of a business laptop—YouTube, Web
surfing, word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, e-mail—to
something approaching the transcendence of the top of
Maslow’s pyramid.

First off, it’s nice and light, weighing in at 4.3 pounds,
including a 9-cell battery. The lightweight e6400 is easy on your
back and your eyes, but it’s not easy on your wallet,
however. At more than $2,000, this is not a purchase to make

But for the price, the e6400 offers a feast of admirable laptop
qualities. It’s handsome, smart, modest, swift, sleek and
powerful. Before this starts to sound like a personal ad,
let’s take note of what makes the Dell Latitude e6400 really
special: its powerful processing power, an Intel Core 2 Duo P9500

My review machine came in a sleek brushed black metal—a
classic, slim laptop. It also comes in blue and red, for users who
like to make more of a fashion statement. At 13.2 inches wide by
9.4 inches deep, it truly is almost laptop-sized.

In fact, at times I wished the e6400 had a bit more heft. When I
plugged in a storage device, the pressure made the e6400 scoot
across my desk an inch or so. But this is a laptop PC that you can
hop on a bus with, toss into an airplane’s overhead bin or
sling in a backpack or totebag with little effort.

It opened very simply, with a push of a latch and a lift of the
cover, and it took about 30 seconds to plug in the connections and
boot it up.

The e6400 came loaded with most everything a business user would
want in a laptop: Window Vista Business OS, Internet Explorer, a
64G solid-state drive, optional integrated webcam and options for a
wireless LAN, mobile broadband, Global Positioning System, Wi-Fi
802.11 and Bluetooth 2.1 connections. But the e6400 offered so much
more beyond these basic needs.

Most importantly, it packs a powerful CPU. When we ran the
Performance Test 6.1 benchmark suite from PassMark Software, the
e6400 scored well on almost every test, and it rated a 688.0 for
overall performance, which is smokin’.

The 9-cell battery lasted through our battery drain test for
three hours and 49 minutes, which is definitely on the high end.
For about $400 more, you can buy an extended battery 84-watt hour
(WHr) slice, which Dell says can give you up to 19 total hours of
battery life. The e6400 also stayed cool, never giving off that dry
heat that some laptops do after a few hours.

The keyboard felt just right for serious typing, not too stiff,
not too easy. It also let you set a backlit feature on the
keyboard, which emitted a cool, subtle glow.

I’m tempted to make the same criticism of the
e6400’s touchpad that has been leveled at me: It’s too
sensitive. Several times I moused around the desktop and
inadvertently picked up icons and moved them to places where I
didn’t want them to go. You can adjust the sensitivity of the
device, and will probably want to unless you have a very light

Perhaps the best feature of all was the vivid LED WXGA-plus
screen. Video and photos looked gorgeous on it, with
high-definition resolution. The e6400 also has a built-in ambient
light sensor, which can automatically adjust the brightness of the
screen relative to the available light in your work area. This not
only saves energy and battery power if you are running unplugged,
but maintains the correct brightness level for you no matter how
much the ambient light in your work area changes. Some offices,
especially those with windows, can change dramatically from morning
to evening depending on the sun’s position, but the e6400
won’t miss a beat with its sensor constantly scanning.

Of special interest to government users, the e6400 offers an
array of security features, including a FIPS-certified fingerprint
reader, hard drive encryption and a contactless smart-card reader.
Dell also supports data protection through hard drive recovery and
remote data deletion.

If you want a laptop that will fulfill your basic needs,
you’ll be able to find one that will do the job adequately
for $800 or less. But if you want a laptop that will fill a deeper
void, a true business companion of the road, the cubicle and the
home office, the e6400 is worth the extra investment.

http://www.dell.com, 1-800-www-dell, www.dell.com.


About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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