Screen and Speakers
The Dell offers two display options with the 14.0-inch Latitude E6420 ATG. The base screen is a standard 1366×768 resolution panel with anti-glare finish. The second screen option is a Resistive Touchscreen LED display with the same resolution. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that Dell doesn’t offer at least one 1600×900 resolution option, but the majority of enterprise businesses and government agencies that will buy the E6420 ATG would rather have large icons that are easy to read. The standard screen in pour review unit delivered a maximum brightness level of 801 nits and a real-life contrast ratio of 630:1 in our lab using a Gossen GO 4068 Mavo-Monitor light meter.
This level of brightness is substantially better than typical business notebooks that have screens with a maximum brightness around 280-350 nits and it means the “outdoor viewable” screen on the E6420 ATG is indeed viewable outdoors even under direct sunlight. Viewing angles are average for a TN panel, with the vertical viewing range spanning from 15-20 degrees tilted forward or back before color starts to shift. Horizontal viewing angles were better, with colors staying true to 60-75 degrees off-center.
The Latitude E6420 ATG features stereo speakers located on the front edge of the notebook. For business use they were more than adequate, offering plenty of volume for listening to music or a video conference in small to midsize rooms. Audio quality was average, with some midrange, good high notes and little bass. The only potential problem with the speakers is the placement. If you’re using the notebook on your desk, the speakers bounce off the table and direct sound toward you. If you’re using the E6420 ATG as a “laptop”, then the speakers sound muffled against your legs.
Keyboard and Touchpad
In case you missed it earlier in the review, the Dell Latitude E6420 ATG features a LED-backlit keyboard that is also spill resistant. The keyboard has a standard key layout similar to the previous generation of Latitudes and might be a welcome feature for those people who don’t like the “Chiclet” style keyboards found on most modern notebooks. The only minor complaint I have with the keyboard on this machine is that the mouse buttons for the built-in pointing stick have a feel and position that makes them easy to mistake for the space bar button when typing quickly. On more than one occasion, I pressed the right or left mouse button when I meant to type a space. Typing pressure is minimal, with each press making a very soft click when the key is fully triggered. The key noise is much quieter compared to a modern HP EliteBook or ProBook business laptop. The keyboard tray also has excellent support and doesn’t bend or flex under even the heaviest typing pressure.
Our review unit incorporates an ALPS touchpad which is neither the best nor the worst touchpad we’ve used on a business notebook. The touchpad only suffers from some moderate lag during Windows startup which quickly resolves itself once Windows is up and running. Sensitivity is good with default settings, although we still had some problems with the accuracy of X- and Y-axis during rapid movement (quickly drawing circles with the touchpad results in a cursor that moves in an oval shape rather than a circle). The touchpad buttons are rubber coated with a deep throw and a quiet click when triggered.