Back in August 2008, we brought you photos of a brand new line of Dell laptop called the E series. One of our favourite laptops in this category was the E4200, mostly because it came in a variety of colours, including pink. That's not all it has going for it, though, its 12-inch screen means it's small, it weighs less than 1Kg and it'll come with all manner of cool ways to connect to the Internet: 3G, WiMax, 802.11n Wi-Fi. It's available for roughly £1,200, depending on where you look.
Like most small laptops, the E4200 has a certain cuteness about it. It's not as dinky and huggable as a netbook, but its chassis measures a petite 291mm by 204mm by 20mm and has a starting weight of just 1Kg with the 4-cell battery. It's not totally baby-fied, though -- the lid has a brushed metal finish, which makes it appear slightly more grown-up than some of its rivals.
The E4200 has awesome wireless capabilities. Dell says it'll ship with 3G in the UK or WiMAX in the United States, plus it'll have high-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi so you can connect to the Internet just about any way you please. Significantly, the laptop will also have optional GPS and a Bluetooth 2.1 module. This, theoretically, allows you to pair a device by holding it next to the laptop, although said device will also need to be Bluetooth 2.1 compatible.
The E4200 is one of the first Dells to feature Dell Latitude ON. This is a quick-boot graphical user interface that gives you access to critical features like a Web browser, Microsoft Exchange data, images and more. As with Asus' Express Gate system, it launches in a matter of seconds and makes a great alternative to booting Windows Vista.
Dell will ship the E4200 with a limited number of hard drive options. The standard model ships with a 64GB solid state hard drive, although a much larger 128GB SSD drive is also available. As much as we like SSDs, it would have been nice to have the choice of a traditional, mechanical drive -- particularly as they're larger and cost less than SSDs.
One should never expect great performance from small laptops, and that applies to the E4200. It'll ship with a variety of Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage processors, which are designed to prolong battery life, not run Half-Life 2. The integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD is pretty anaemic in comparison to so-called discrete graphics cards, too. It'll play high-definition 720p video, but 3D graphics is definitely not its forte.
While the E4200 has excellent wireless connectivity, its wired connectivity isn't all it could have been. It has just two USB ports, which is a bit rubbish considering many smaller laptops have at least three. It's not the end of the world, though: one of the USB ports doubles as an E-SATA port, while the other is compatible with PowerShare technology. This means it'll charge your USB devices -- a mobile phone, for example. -- over USB, even if the laptop is switched off. You also get a D-Sub video port, optional Displayport connector, and 4-pin Firewire.
We're very excited by the Latitude E4200. It's attractive, has outstanding wireless capabilities and has a definite air of 'cool' about it, which is an unusual trait in a business laptop.
Edited by Marian Smith