by Steven Kim, Canada
The Dell Latitude D610 is not available through the Home & Home Office section on Dell's site, but through the Business sections of the site. This particular one was purchased through the Dell Small Business section. The D610 is basically your mainstream, thin & light, business notebook.
Dell Latitude D610 (view larger image)
Dell Latitude D610 Specs:
Reasons for Buying
I bought this notebook for university, and I needed something that could last me for the next five years. With the pace that notebooks are changing, this one is likely to become obsolete long before the five years are up, but it still needed to last that amount of time.
I had considered basically the whole Dell Inspiron line before the idea struck me that there was a Latitude line. The Inspiron 6000 was my first choice, but after seeing my friend's 6000, I decided that it was too bulky for my taste, and I thought its design was too... plastic, and cheap; just my opinion, obviously. I had also considered the 600m and 700m models, but the D610 turned out to be of better value than the 600m, and the 700m was simply too small, with the 12.1" screen and Intel graphics.
Where and How Purchased
Note that this was purchased through Dell Canada Small Business, and not Dell US, so I was not able to use any of the $750-off coupons available to US customers. Even so, I thought the notebook was a great deal. Total, including tax (also note that tax in
Now, even in Canadian dollars, the price does seem high, but I'll tell you why I thought it was a good deal: this included Windows XP Pro as its default OS, an option that would run an extra 150 dollars, and at the time, I believe Office Small Business was only around 220 dollars, as opposed to 300+ dollars with the Inspiron 6000. What sealed the deal, is that the Latitude's default warranty was 3-year, Next-Business Day onsite, with CompleteCare. This kind of warranty on the Inspiron models, whose default warranty is only 1-year return-to-depot, would run an extra 200 dollars or more. Hence, it just made more sense to go with the D610 over any other Dell.
I was quoted two weeks for my shipping time; it took half that, and came via Purolator, well packed.
Build & Design
This isn't a flashy notebook like the Acer Ferraris, but it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of, either. It's a simple metallic grey design, with a silver Dell logo in the middle of the top. I really like the design, though, as it has nice curves in the right places, and I don't find it cheap looking like the 6000, which seems to overuse plastic. The chassis of the D610 is comprised of magnesium, aluminum, and steel; overall the notebook feels quite solid. There is very, very little flex to the top (but if you push anything hard enough, it flexes), but the screen does wobble a bit if you tap it while its up. This doesn't cause any "ripples" in the screen, and after a little wobble it goes back into place. The hinges are quite solid, and there is a good amount of resistance when opening/closing the notebook.
Top view of Latitude D610 (view larger image)
AC Adapter and notebook size comparison (view larger image)
I was initially worried about have a 1400x1050 resolution on a 14.1" screen. In my opinion, it's perfect. It originally came with its DPI setting on "Large (120 dpi)" but it made icons and fonts look awkward and large, so I change it back to "Small (96 dpi)" and everything looks like it should. The screen is bright, but matte like traditional LCDs, not the reflective like the ones you see coming out on newer notebooks. When running on the battery, it's really easy to change the display brightness according to your battery usage; you hold a Function key and use the up/down arrows on your keyboard, with a total of 8 brightness levels. Personally, I love the screen, but it's still not as beautiful or as vibrant as some Sony or Toshiba reflective screens (which are the most beautiful screens I've ever seen). No dead pixels as far as I can see, but the bottom half of the screen does seem to be a bit more brightly lit than the top; I think this is a backlighting issue, but it does not bother me, and I'm sure some people wouldn't even notice.
Speakers & Sound
Well, I hadn't expected the speakers to be that great, but the sound is crisp and clear. Of course, it simply can't make the bass notes due to their size, but I think they're reasonable for light gaming and music listening.
One of the problems I had read about was a noisy headphone jack; a speculation on the problem was that it was not properly grounded. Apparently this was a problem throughout the D610 line (possibly the whole Latitude line), and unfortunately, this notebook is no exception. While you're actually listening to music or gaming, the noise is not apparent, but once you exit back to your desktop, you will notice the noise. There is a slight hissing, but also, when you use the touchpad, a USB mouse, or the CD drive spins up, there is a static-like noise that is apparent. Again, it is not noticeable while you are listening to something, only when there is silence.
Processor & Performance
I opted for the 1.86GHz simply because I didn't want anything slow; once you've used a fast desktop, it's hard to go back to something slower. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how zippy this notebook is. Boot-up is significantly faster than my Pentium 4 3.0GHz based desktop.
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Dell Latitude D610||1m 41s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M) ||1m 45s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Sony VAIO S360 (1.7 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||1m 57s|
|Gateway 7510GX (AMD Mobile Athlon 64 3700+ Processor, 2.4 GHz)||1m 31s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 42s|
Running HDTune 2.10, the hard disk ran at 37 degrees Celsius, below are the full results:
HD Tune Benchmarks Dell Latitude D610 (5400 RPM) Sony VAIO FS680 (4200 RPM) Minimum Transfer Rate 10.0 MB/sec 6.9 MB/sec Maximum Transfer Rate 36.0 MB/sec 30.3 MB/sec Average Transfer Rate 27.8 MB/sec 22.7 MB/sec Acess Time 17.7 ms 20.0 ms Burst Rate 66.0 MB/sec - CPU Usage 4.3%
I'm only a casual gamer; I installed two games on this, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction and Need For Speed: Underground 2. Not surprisingly, Lord of Destruction ran smoothly, possibly smoother than my desktop PC, at its highest settings. As for Need For Speed Underground 2, it ran decently at 800x600 with all the detail settings maxed out; it was basically as I expected. The X300 does hiccup during NFS:UG2, but for me, it's more than playable. That said, the D610 is not a gaming/multimedia notebook, and folks should look elsewhere if their main concern is either of those.
DVD-playback was hiccup-free, whether on battery or on AC power.
Keyboard & Touchpad
I love the keyboard, it feels like a full-size keyboard as far as I know, and it's quite comfortable to type on. I believe touch typists will enjoy this keyboard because of its size, and there's no flex to it; it feels solid, just like the rest of the notebook.
Keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)
There are no extra controls for the CD player, only a volume control and a mute button. However, there is the function key, and it allows you to go into standby, hibernate, toggle wireless, check the battery, and change the brightness levels on the fly. No frills here.
Although I'm indifferent to this next feature, I'm sure some will love it; the D610 includes both a touchpad and the pointing stick, with buttons for both. You can turn either off in the Control Panel; I prefer to keep them on. I'm not a big fan of the pointing stick, but I'm sure there are people that will appreciate the inclusion of both. The buttons for the touchpad do click somewhat loudly (well, louder than a typical mouse) but it's not an issue for me.
Input & Output Ports
The D610 offers a PC Card slot, Fast IR, Mic and Headphone jacks on the left side. A nice touch was the inclusion of a dummy card for the PC Card slot; I don't know if this is a standard laptop thing, but it's better to have it protected than not. The rear of the notebook has the AC power hookup, VGA port, serial port, parallel port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 56K modem jack, Ethernet jack, and an S-Video out. The right side has another 2 USB 2.0 ports, and the DVD+/-RW drive. On the bottom, there is a slot for a docking station, which lacks a cover, and there is a door you can open to access the memory slots.
Right side view of Latitude D610 (view larger image)
Back side view of Latitude D610 (view larger image)
Left side view of Latitude D610 (view larger image)
Bottom of D610 (view larger image)
I noticed the absence of a FireWire port, but to be honest, I have never used a FireWire product in my life, and I'm sure USB 2.0 will perform adequately should I need to add something like an external hard drive.
The Intel Pro Wireless 2200 b/g card and antenna are built into the notebook; although I don't have much experience with other wireless cards, upon starting up, I detected 5 wireless networks within my house (and I don't have my own wireless network yet). There is the option of getting the Dell cards, but I don't see the point in this, as well as cards compatible with "a" networks.
I did not opt for the Bluetooth card, since I don't think I will need it, and it's still not very popular. Should the need arise for Bluetooth in the future, I will have the PC Card slot to add that capability, but I don't think it will be very likely.
As previously mentioned, there is a Fast IR receiver on the left side, but I don't know of anything that uses this.
With the brightness at level 4, no CD drive usage, and wireless on, you'll get roughly 4 hours of battery life, give or take a few minutes. This is basically the ideal battery life of the notebook, and is more than enough for me, since I will not need the CD drive during lectures. I do change the brightness frequently, however, so the actual battery life would probably be around three and a half hours or so. This was the battery life I got with typical usage, no CD-based gaming, though. You can also add a secondary battery to the modular bay, and there is the option of purchasing a second primary battery, but I did not opt for either.
DVD viewing while on the battery will probably get you more than two and a half hours of battery life, but that's with the screen at half brightness, and watching movies on this screen setting is not very enjoyable unless you're in a fairly dim environment.
The D610 also has an ExpressCharge feature, and a full charge takes around an hour, and only a bit more while using the notebook.
Operating System & Software
As I've already mentioned, the D610 comes with Windows XP Professional; you can choose which disks you want with your notebook, and I opted to get the XP Pro disc, as well as a Latitude D610 Recovery disk, and I also received the Office Small Business discs as well.
After going through the initial setup process (usernames, networks, etc.) there was no clutter on the desktop or in the start menu for things like "Free AOL" and other asinine offers. I appreciated the fact that there was no cleanup to do from the start.
An important piece of included software is the Dell Quickset program, which allows you to change battery settings on the fly; you can also create custom profiles, telling the notebook when to turn off the screen/hard drive, go into standby, etc. This is essentially a more user friendly version of the Windows Power Options, accessible through the Control panel.
I have not dealt with Dell phone support yet, but they did include a couple of Start Menu items that give an extensive selection of phone numbers, as well as an Express Service code to speed up any telephone tech support.
As I already mentioned, a big factor in my purchase decision was the warranty; this notebook was to be my main computer for the next few years, and I needed a good warranty. The default warranty was 3 years, next business day onsite service, with CompleteCare. The CompleteCare is an accidental damage warranty, where Dell replaces your notebook in the case of spills, surges, etc. Overall, this is a solid warranty, one that would have cost extra had I got with an Inspiron series notebook.
Again, the noisy headphone jack is a problem that I have read about in other D610 reviews, and a problem that Dell has failed to address. It's not the biggest problem to me, but some people will not like this at all.
Another small gripe of mine is that the X300, although appropriate for a business notebook, could be better; I think that Dell should include more options for video cards, should the user want it.
Everything else; this notebook does everything I want it to: it's zippy, light, is capable of burning DVDs, watching movies, light gaming, and is very solidly built.
In short, I think this notebook is excellent for student and businessman alike; it's light, solid, carries a solid warranty, and the price is fair for everything it offers. I would recommend it to anyone who requires a reliable, fast machine, the only exception being for hardcore gamers. Otherwise, this notebook is perfect.
Pricing and Availability
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