Working Unplugged For 24 Hours: Notebooks Have More Features and Power

laptop_latitude_e4300_overview1.jpgDuring my highly tech career I’ve gone through dozens of notebooks. All are pretty much the same, except for some minor differences such as placement of ports, screen size and “speeds and feeds” specifications such as memory and hard disk space.
Over the past few days I’ve been trying out Dell’s Latitutde E4300. This mighty marvel is quite different from notebooks of previous generations.
It’s 13.3″ screen and full sized keyboard make a good combination of lightness while at the same time allowing one to work fully, as they were at a desk, all day. Sure having a slightly bigger screen – like 14″ – would be nice, but if you want something small and light, 13.3″ is the best option. The built in fingerprint reader, which is a feature on many notebooks, is good and provides added security, integrated with other optional security features.
It’s been a long time since I’ve used a track point (mouse pointer) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dell has included one in the Latitude. Having the option of a track point and traditional touch pad makes one more productive I think.

The battery life available on the Latitude is simply stunning. There are two battery’s you can use – one is towards the back of the notebook as you would expect to find. At 98%, there are 5.5 hours left. With the secondary battery, which is a thin slice that fits on the bottom of the notebook you have a boost of over 11 hours. I’ll find out from Dell precisely how long the slice lasts and the main battery lasts. Either way you get a LOT OF juice from the combination of both batteries. If you need to travel all day and use the computer all day you probably won’t have to see a power socket for 24 hours or more. Read more on battery life here.
Another nice touch about Dell’s Latitude E4300 is that the end of the power adapter that plugs into the computer lights up – you know for sure if the socket your plugged into works.
What Dell’s done with the Latitude E series (and this could very well apply to other notebooks from Dell or competitors) is include power saving features in the notebook that slows down, dims or turns off various components of the notebook to extend its life as long as possible. So not only is the battery itself as powerful as can be, but its use of power is “intelligent”. For example, Dell’s “ambient light” sensing feature dims or brightens the screen depending on how much light is in the room.
There are a few other features that I really like about Dell’s Latitude E4300:

  • The case is brushed aluminum alloy so it is strong and feels strong.
  • This is a “small” feature – but there is no latch needed to open the case simply lift it up with one hand
  • Last but not least is Dell’s “instant on” technology, which is also a feature on other notebooks from Dell and other vendors.

If you need to access Microsoft Outlook and don’t want to boot the entire computer, the Linux based “Dell Latitude On Reader” gives you access to your Outlook email, contacts and calendar. While this feature is pretty neat I found it less useful for me, for two reasons. Since my smartphone has all my data for quick access to Outlook, I don’t need my computer. Since I use the hibernate function of the computer, access to my computer is fairly quick in any case.
Overall I’m very pleased with Dell’s Latitude E4300. Starting at $1,700, the hardware is solid and the smart features, such as the one-button WiFi catcher that you can click to start finding available WiFi networks are a nice addition. The keyboard has a very good feel and the notebook overall is lightweight. What more could you want.
Some of you might be asking, what about Dell Vostro? Dell’s Vostro line is targeted at value priced small businesses. I’d say think of the Gap line of clothing. Good clothing at good prices. Gap’s Banana Republic, on the other hand is more premium clothing and at an expected higher price. So the choice is yours. If money is tight – go with the Vostro. But if you want a premium notebook, with advanced features, go with the Dell Latitude.