Monday, May 26, 2014

My "new" Dell Latitude E6420

When buying the Dell Latitude E6410 only a couple months back I thought it would take a few more months before E6420's would show up on the second-hand market, knowing that my work one was going out of warranty after 3 years in two months from now in July. But this Tuesday I got the email notifications I setup on eBay and I thought I wouldn't pass this one.

I really like my work Dell Latitude E6420, I think it's a great work laptop with a very good design - the solid enterprise level laptops from Dell Latitude line, but this time with a design that makes you attach to it. It's the usual 14" screen but instead of a 14" chassis it is actually as wide as 15" and it does make sense. The material around the keyboard is sort of rubbery and due to the wider design and merging and moving the keyboard keys at the top right corner you get more space to rest your hands when writing those long emails or coding for hours and it feels good. Also moving the volume / mute buttons on the right makes sense, you don't have to reach for them all the way up at the top anymore.

On the keyboard redesign, yes, it might take a couple of weeks to get used to, but once I did was perfectly fine - it's good to see they kept same layout for newer models so all that adjusting effort won't be in vain. Home / End / Insert / Delete keys stayed at the top, but they are now merged with SysRq, Print Screen and Pause. That makes Ctrl + Alt + Print Screen ("current window" screenshot in Windows which I do quite a bit at times) a bit tricky when you have to use Fn function making it a four key press (3 left hand and one right hand). True, with Windows 7 and later you have the Snipping Tool if you are not a keyboard person.

Ports layout is good as always, away from your hands at the back and sides, with the nice addition of HDMI along the usual VGA port, plus a mixed USB/eSATA port (already have a USB/eSATA Vantec NextStar3 enclosure I bought a few years ago to put older hard drives from upgrading the desktop).

Speakers are quite decent, although a bit muffled as positioned underside towards you. Also regarding sound, a frustrating design change was merging the audio input and output jack - that works fine just for headphones, but if you want to use your traditional headset with separate connections, you will require an additional audio splitter cable. Annoying if you don't have one around, but same as with the keyboard layout change, they stuck with it with later models so you will get to reuse it.

Another interesting feature of this model is the Nvidia Optimus technology, where you have two graphic chips - Intel and Nvidia - and you get to choose which application runs on which through the NVIDIA Control Panel or the right-click context menu for an application.

Overall, I really like this laptop and I'm glad I could finally get one - same as before, I got it from the UK based it-zone-2 seller on eBay, very happy with it and although it was a bit of a rushed buy I don't regret it (~350 euro incl shipping). The entire laptop is in very good condition, UK keyboard (important for me) looks new, screen clean and bright (possibly new or replaced as well) and for me it was the seller point with its 1600x900 resolution. Also a bonus point is that it came with one 4GB RAM module with a slot ready for upgrade (check with seller first if not obvious from item description or BIOS screenshots), making it cheaper to upgrade to 8 GB by adding another used module for 20-30 euro or a new one for 40 euro (I could swap the memory with E6410) - it does make a difference with Windows making it a smoother experience, especially if you are going to hit it with work tasks at times (things like Eclipse or VMs or setting up RAM disks).

Dell Latitude E6420 (eBay)

Temperatures after playing World Of Tanks (minimum settings), ambient 18 °C