Screen and Speakers
Our E6420 review unit has a 14-inch 720p (1366x768) glossy LED display with an added bonus of a two-finger multitouch touchscreen. The multitouch screen is optional and can be added for an extra $99. It could be a handy option for users who need to do some light drawing on their displays or want the convenience of touching the screen to select items or drag them around. We found that the multitouch works well and is quite responsive.
The display reaches a peak of 200 NIT brightness, which means it's about average - not too bright and not incredibly dark. We measured the contrast ratio and found that it's on the low side, at about 138:1. Since the multitouch option was enabled on our notebook, the display is glossy; which means that it will be harder to use while in bright-lit office conditions because of the screen being so reflective. When we moved the display, back images got blurred pretty quickly at around 5-10 degrees off center, and when we move it forward it inverts at about the same distance off center. When moved to the right or left, images invert about 40 degrees off center. Three or so people will be able to view the notebook fine if seated next to one another, but it'll be harder to see the display if you're standing up or bending it back at all.
The notebook has amazing audio...I am thoroughly impressed. While the audio on business notebooks usually gets overlooked, the IDT high-def sound on this notebook did not. It gets extremely loud at 100 percent and reaches great highs and lows without sounding distorted or muffled. Users will definitely be able to use the notebook for presentations in a decently sized presentation room. The only reason you'd need to buy external speakers is if you need to broadcast the sound across a very large room.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is a mix between a Chiclet and a traditional-styled keyboard. The keys are flatter but are raised a bit and curved for an easier typing experience. Personally, the keyboard on the E6420 is one of my favorites so far. It's extremely comfortable to use, provides great feedback (typos should be at an all-time minimum), and the keys don't make much noise at all when pressed. Moreover, it looks really nice too - the soft black keys and orange outline around it add a nice touch. The only complaint we have is due to the surface, if there's any oil on your hands you might end up leaving a trace of grease after using it. There is also a backlit keyboard option.
The multi-touch Alps Electric touchpad is also very nice. It's just the right size and has a responsive matte surface area. Even with moisture on your fingers, the touchpad works just fine. Moreover, the four physical click buttons make only a slight noise that isn't at all annoying. Dell also designed its own software to enable, disable or change multitouch gestures and button options.
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