Buy Direct From Manufacturer
by Chris Jenkins
Overview and Introduction:
The Dell D620 setup (view large image)
Following is a review of the Dell Latitude D620 laptop, a 14.1″ widescreen business model notebook released earlier this year by Dell. The D620 being reviewed here has the following configuration as customized online via Dell.com:
- Processor: Intel Core Duo T2500, 2.00Ghz
- Screen: 14.1″ WXGA+ Wide Screen
- Memory: 1.0GB, DDR2-667, 1 DIMM
- Graphics: Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 950
- HD: 100GB Hard Drive 9.5mm SATA 7200RPM
- Input: Touchpad with UPEK fingerprint reader
- OS: Windows XP Pro, SP2
- 65W AC Adapter
- 8x DVD+/-RW
- Wireless: Dell Wireless 1490 Dual Band WLAN (a/g) Mini Card, Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth
- Battery: 9-cell (85WHr) Primary Battery
- Warranty: Next Business Day Parts and Labor with Complete Care Accidental Damage 3 years 6 cell (48WHr) Modular Bay Battery
- Accessories also purchased: D/Dock Docking Station, D/Port Replicator Docking Station, Dell UltraSharp 2007FPW 20.1-inch Widescreen Flat Panel LCD Monitor
- Price: $2617.20 with all above mentioned items (Approximately $1,748.20 for the laptop, minus docking stations and LCD)
D620 in its docking station (view large image)
Reasons for Buying:
Several circumstances drove my need to purchase this laptop. To begin with, my XP 1700+ custom built desktop was aging into the 6-year range and was not quite keeping up with everything I was throwing at it. I was also thinking a few months down the road to when I would be leaving for a four year university and needing something more portable than a desktop system.
In my evaluation of laptops, the Dell D620 was actually not even a thought. I was originally evaluating the new Lenovo ThinkPad Z60 series as well as the Asus W3V. Being the unrelenting person I am, I had several criteria for my new laptop:
It absolutely, positively, had to:
- Have a modular bay battery option (or a primary battery that would last six hours)
- Have a widescreen in ~ 14″
- Have a modular optical option
- Be less than 6 lbs
- Be of sturdy build
In the exhaustive searching I did for a laptop that met these requirements, only the IBM Z series and Asus W3V stuck out. Both of these laptops were attractive, but expensive. That was, at least, until the Dell D620 came out. It instantly caught my eye because of it meeting (and beating) all of my requirements with a price tag of several hundred dollars less than the Lenovo or Asus. Also, my employer committed to purchasing the expansion station so I could use my new wonder machine at work with dual screens. This essentially gave me a business workstation with two screens while docked, a home system with one wide screen while docked, and a nice portable computing solution while away from home or work.
Where and How Purchased:
When I was 13, I began to sell, build, and service computers (both custom builds and Dell manufactured). As a result, I used my corporate “Premier” account to get a steep discount. This allowed me to add a docking station for home as well as the 20.1″ Wide Screen LCD I had been coveting for some time. All in all, a steal of a deal ($2,617).
Build & Design:
My first impression on opening this up was the sturdy build and sleek professional appearance. This laptop is definitely built to last. The screen does not flex near as much as other similar laptops nor does it feel cheap. It has a strong “solid” feel to it. Professionalism is the name of the game and this plays with a new tenacity. It has a dark but not too dark look that can speak either “businessman” or “relaxed but confident”
Additional upsides are the StrikeZone hard drive technology used by Dell to secure the hard drive, the magnesium-alloy casing, and steel hinges. All of these options contribute to real life stability and ruggedness that I was looking for. I’m absolutely thrilled with both the build and design of this laptop.
Top view of D620 with extended life 9-cell battery in the front (view large image)
Being a particularly picky person, I originally wished I could have ordered the “TruLife” screen. You know, that super glossy, great for DVD watching screen that everyone’s been talking about. I’m now actually glad I didn’t have the option because of glare and the constant reflection of your face. The D620 has a great screen that’s fabulous as long as you aren’t an avid graphics or DVD connoisseur. I’m a hard working person that likes to watch the occasional movie, and this works great for me. However, if you’re a high school drop out watching movies all day, look to a multimedia crazed laptop for cool screens.
Sound is pretty darned good considering this is a business laptop with one small speaker in the rear left hand corner. It’s not fabulous, but it works. You’ll definitely need to use a good set of headphones for those movies or music.
The sound card features of the computer are actually exceptionally good. I dock the laptop at home as well as at work and the 2.1 speaker systems I have both sounds very good when plugged into the headphone jack on the left side of the computer. A little word of advice: the sound is “tinny” and very “small” when using the jack on any of Dell’s docking stations. Obviously not a D620 issue, but worth mentioning. It took me a few minutes to figure that out.
Processor and Performance:
This new Intel Core Duo is my new best friend. At 2.0Ghz this EASILY outperforms any similar desktop system well into the 3.0 GHz level. I’m constantly running AutoCAD and AutoCAD like programs for work and this crunches through these tasks with ease. I also use Adobe Acrobat 5.0, 6.0, and 7.0 Pro to view, edit, and print large files (60MB or larger) and it handles them exceptionally well.
Besides raw speed, the dual core option boosts performance when using two programs simultaneously. There is a slight but noticeable performance boost when you try to do two things at once.
Super Pi Results
Dell Latitude D620 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Compaq Presario V3000z (1.6GHz Turion64 X2)
Gateway M255 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Lenovo Z61m (2.0GHz Core Duo)
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)
Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)
HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
Asus V6Va (Pentium M 1.86 GHz)
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
Futuremark PCMark05 Scores
Dell Latitude D620 (2.0GHz, Intel Integrated Graphics)
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption
Multithreaded Test 2 / Text Edit
Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Decompression
Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning
Multithreaded Test 3 / Memory Latency 16MB
HDD (XP Startup)
Web Page Rendering
Physics and 3D
2D Transparent Windows
HDD (General Useage)
Heat and Noise:
To be quite honest, I anticipated a significant heat and noise problem mostly as a result of the speedy Core Duo Processor and 100GB 7200rpm SATA hard drive. The heat starts to get noticeable after the computer has been running average tasks for about four to five hours. Fortunately the heat never seems to reach the palm rest or any other “top” area of the laptop. Over the past month of using this laptop, I never recall an instance in which heat was an issue or concern.
This computer sits on my desk in a docking station for 14 hours per day and I can barely hear it. What a world of difference over my Dell desktop unit that sounded like a 747 Jumbo Jet in comparison. A little sidenote on the hard drive: I noticed in the BIOS that there is an option to use a quiet hard drive mode as opposed to normal. The normal mode boosts performance while the quiet mode decreases the noticeable noise produced by the hard drive. The normal mode is not loud at all, so that’s what I selected. The quiet mode makes the hard drive virtually undetectable.
Keyboard and Touchpad:
If I could add one input device on this laptop, it would be the vertical and horizontal scroll on the touchpad similar to those featured on the Inspiron 6000 and E1505. Other than that one complaint the touchpad is great. You can use software in the control panel to adjust and fine tune the speed and sensitivity of the touchpad to your needs.
Every laptop should, in my opinion, have both a touchpad and an eraser head. But the D620 took the eraser head to a whole new level. Instead of having a hard “eraser” type of head, Dell installed a soft rubbery feeling head. What a novel idea! While I prefer the touchpad, the occasional use of the eraser head is a pleasurable experience thanks to this new innovation.
Input and Output Ports:
Nothing really significant here, just a listing of normal ports:
PC Card: One Type I or Type II
I/O Ports: Serial, docking connector, 4 USB, VGA, headphone/speaker out, infrared port, RJ-11, RJ-45, AC power, integrated microphone , infrared
Back view of Latitude D620 (view large image)
Left side view of D620 (view large image)
Right side of D620 (view large image)
Don’t expect an S-Video connection or DVI as they are no where to be found. The DVI is no big surprise, but I’m unsure as to why the S-Video was chopped at the drawing phase. Make sure that projector has VGA support and you have an extra VGA cable on hand for those last minute presentations.
Dell has added some features in the wireless arena that previously only IBM has given consumers. Now with the D620 you have the capability of having either the Verizon (EVDO) or Cingular (HSDPA) data networks built into the laptop; no additional cards needed. That’s great for you road warrior salesman that need internet everywhere.
Standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work exceptionally well. Wi-Fi reception is average, but very strong. No seemingly odd disconnects or slow downs to speak of. I’ve used the Bluetooth to connect to my Microsoft wireless mouse with relative ease. No complaints here!
I’ve heard rumors of users complaining of the “extended” profile of the 9-cell primary battery. In my experience, this 9 cell extension on the front of the computer is actually welcome over the 6 cell. The extension offers a 0.9″ palm rest when using the touchpad for extended periods of time. Frankly, I won’t be trading out my 9 cell any time soon.
I can get around 3hr 30min mark with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on, and screen on level 3 or 4 using the 9 cell. Reports from other users that have the 6 cell put similar usage at 2hrs 30min. If I use both the 9 cell primary and 6 cell modular batteries I can get 6-7 hrs doing normal tasks. On a full charge Windows XP reports I can get 9 hrs 40 minutes. When university classes start this fall I’m going to be able to use my laptop all day without a recharge. That’s a huge bonus!
Word of wisdom: when ordering, get the 90W AC Adapter in order to take advantage of the Express Charge feature. Express Charge allows you to recharge a 4 or 6 cell battery to 80% in about an hour and to 100% in just two hours if the computer is off. I learned this the hard way by ordering the 65W adapter and then finding out. However, if you’re trying to save space and weight, the 90W adapter is a tad bigger.
Operating System and Software:
Dell is kind enough to offer up the Pro version of Windows XP meaning I don’t have to get a license for it somewhere else.
However, big strike on the Wave EMBASSY Trust Suite by Wave Systems. This software is slow, buggy, and I could hardly get it to work. When I initially got the computer, I was very interested in the bio metric features so it was the first thing I tested out. I “enrolled” all of my fingers in the software, enabled the bio metrics only for Windows login, and rebooted. And guess what, it locked me out of Windows because it couldn’t recognize the print of any of my fingers. Needless to say, after a system format and a few minutes of frustration, I wasn’t about to try that again.
Kudos to Dell for finally cutting all the adware installs that forces everyone to format or spend hours cleaning their factory windows installation. I believe this is something Dell has started to implement on all orders for business type equipment and not just corporate orders.
Dell’s customer support has always pulled through for me, which is part of the reason I got the CompleteCare warranty this time around. My employer’s wife had a Dell D600 (older model) with CompleteCare. Time went on and she had an issue which I can’t seem to recall, but after one quick support call Dell sent out a replacement D610. The new D610 had more features, a new nylon bag, a 90W AC Adapter, and a USB mouse. The D610 has had several claims on it as a result of several accidental damaging and both times Dell has fixed it no questions asked.
I have 100% confidence in Dell’s warranty and that’s really what sold me. I know that if my laptop heads south for the winter Dell will have a new one on my doorstep the next business day. And best of all, I won’t have to fight them for it.
I can honestly say without hesitation that I highly recommend this laptop to just about anyone seeking a light, powerful, business laptop. The D620 has been a great machine for me so far, and I am counting on it to continue to serve me well into the next four years.
My only regret is spending more money on docking stations and the new LCD when I could have just saved that money and got, say, one docking station. After it was all said and done, that was bad planning on my part and had nothing to do with the laptop. I am very pleased with this purchase.