If you have a company laptop, chances are it's either a Lenovo ThinkPad or a Dell Latitude--both have universally recognizable designs, and are capable performers in both small and large businesses. This week, Dell is unveiling a fairly major revamp to the Latitude line with the new E series, anchored by the 15-inch Latitude E6500 and 14-inch E6400.
The most striking break from the traditional gray Latitude look is the new black brushed metal design, which promises to be thinner and lighter than the current versions. In a Latitude first, select models will also be available in Regatta Blue, Regal Red and Quartz Pink (but not at launch).
These new systems are powered by Intel's Centrino 2 platform, and also offer options such as backlit keyboards (an idea we heartily endorse), SSD hard drives (up to 64GB), and 7,200rpm hard drives with accelerometers, along with all the expected connectivity options, including mobile broadband, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and WiMAX. In addition to standard 6- and 9-cell batteries, Dell promises "all-day computing," with the optional 12-cell "battery slice"--essentially a giant battery that fits over the entire bottom of the system.
The new Latitudes also feature Dell's ControlPoint software--the latest version of the catch-all apps found on almost any business laptop for easy access to power settings, security features, networking functions, diagnostics, and administrative controls. Business-friendly features include Intel's vPro platform, a TPM chip, fingerprint reader, and a contactless smart-card reader.
Dell is breaking its new Latitude line out into four categories:
The Latitude E6500 and E6400 are available right away, along with the less-expensive E5500 and E5400 (which add some weight and lose the LED backlit displays, Display Port video output, and other high-end options). The 12-inch E4200 and 13-inch E4300 are arriving sometime in September.
Also shipping starting next week is the E6400 ATG, which stands for all-terrain grade. It's essentially a version of the E6400 built into a new semirugged shell. We checked out the first ATG Dell last year, and this new version seems much more like it was built from the ground up as a rugged laptop, rather than just adding rubber bumpers to a standard Latitude.