As the middle child in the business-focused Latitude brood, the Dell Latitude D620 is larger than the ultra-portable D410 and smaller than the middle-sized D820. Like its big brother, the D620 has undergone an extensive overhaul, emerging with some excellent new features such as a 14.1-inch wide-aspect display (the prior model was standard aspect), an Intel Core Duo processor, a fingerprint sensor and a 3G/HSDPA card.
The system's mobile performance is superior to the D610's, while the battery life on our review system, which was equipped with a 9-cell unit, was excellent. In the end, companies that have already standardised on the Latitude D600 series should feel comfortable adding the new D620 to their portable families. But businesses starting from scratch may want to consider other thin-and-light alternatives.
The Latitude D620 tips the scales at the same 2.5kg weight as the previous-generation D610 and features the same 30mm thickness. The D620's new dual-tone grey colour scheme gives it a sleeker look than its predecessor. Since the D620 now features a wide-aspect screen, its dimensions are different: the case is 338mm wide and 238mm deep -- slightly wider and shallower than before. Overall, the Latitude D620's size falls in line with other systems offering 14.1-inch wide-aspect displays. There are certainly smaller laptops in Dell's Latitude lineup -- the Latitude X1, for example -- but the D620 is light enough for occasional travel and moving throughout the office.
From a design standpoint, the Latitude D620 is a smaller version of the D820. While the D820's display measures 15.4 inches, the D620 has a clear, sufficiently bright 14.1-inch wide-aspect screen with an native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels. The D620's keyboard is wide enough, but its keys are noisy compared to the D820's. Both laptops feature three handy volume buttons, plus a touchpad and a pointing stick with a corresponding set of mouse buttons -- although the D820's stick has a flat top that's easier to manipulate than the D620's rounded eraser head.
On the D620, the touchpad's standard mouse buttons are of adequate size, but if -- as on our review system -- you add biometric security, Dell swaps them out for two smaller ones with the fingerprint sensor wedged between them; we wish the buttons were larger. The D620 has a pretty sorry excuse for a speaker on its front edge, which is not uncommon for a business portable. Fortunately, the D620 shares the D820's excellent steel hinges that secure its display to its base, and it offers a similarly sturdy magnesium alloy internal frame as well as a shock-protected hard drive.
Dell has made wireless communications a top priority for the D620. We particularly like its handy Wi-Fi finder feature, which lets you test for nearby Wi-Fi networks by simply sliding a switch on the system's left edge. The feature works when you're booted up or powered down, so you don't even have to turn your system on to find a network. Other wireless options include a cutting-edge, Bluetooth + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) card and a Dell Wireless 5505 Mobile Broadband 3G HSDPA card with a Vodafone SIM. Our test unit had Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but lacked the 3G card, which costs £147 extra.
The Latitude D620's unremarkable array of ports, jacks and slots will satisfy standard business connectivity needs. Highlights include infrared, VGA and four USB 2.0 ports, plus a serial port for businesses that can't let go of legacy peripherals. You also get headphone and microphone jacks, one Type II PC Card slot and one SmartCard slot that accommodates cards containing covert information, such as credit card numbers or sensitive passwords. You may secure more of your top-secret info by saving it to the Trusted Platform Module chip that's hardwired to the D620's motherboard.
In addition to the 3G and Wi-Fi mentioned above, network connections include modem and Ethernet jacks. Although the D620 lacks some features -- such as S-Video and SPDIF audio ports and a media card reader -- that are included in most contemporary consumer laptop, it stands up well next to other big-business portables, such as the HP Compaq nc6230 and Lenovo's ThinkPad T60. As with most business laptops, the Latitude D620 doesn't ship with much software beyond Windows XP Pro and Roxio Digital Media for optical disc-burning tasks.
Our test configuration's £1,295 price is reasonable, considering its solid specs: a 2GHz Intel Core Duo T2500 processor, 1GB of fast 533MHz memory, an 80GB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm, and a swappable DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive. Our review system had integrated graphics (Intel GMA 950). As far as performance is concerned, the D620 finished our MobileMark 2002 test suite with exactly the same score (214) as the Lenovo ThinkPad T60, which had a slightly slower 1.83GHz T2400 Core Duo processor and 512MB less RAM.
This is a perfectly adequate performance level for running mainstream business applications under typical conditions. Battery life was an impressive 6 hours 22 minutes, thanks to our review system's optional 9-cell battery; with the (£50 cheaper) 6-cell standard battery fitted, you can expect a more modest mobile uptime of around four hours.
Edited by Charles McLellan
Additional editing by Nick Hide