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Dell Latitude D410 sub-notebook

Pint-sized performer?

Review Dell's Latitude D410 is based on the latest version of Intel's Centrino notebook platform, 'Sonoma', which brings support for PCI Express, Serial ATA hard disks, DDR 2 memory and the new Express Card format. However, the D410 employs only two of these - PCI Express and DDR 2, writes Benny Har-Even.

Dell Latitude D410The processor is a Pentium M 750 running at 1.86GHz - pretty high for a small notebook and, as we'll see, helps the D410 turn in some pretty impressive benchmark scores. The CPU is backed by 512MB of dual-channel DDR 2 memory configured as two 256MB DIMMs.

But it's not just raw technology that the D410 has going for it. It's also very compact, with its 27.8 x 23.8 x 3.2cm dimensions and 1.72kg weight placing it firmly in the sub-notebook category, though it's some way off the ultra portability of something like Sony's X505, Samsung's Q30 or even Dell's own Latitude X1. Even so, if you need to carry around a notebook all day, every day, this is at the very least the sort of weight you should be looking at. My Apple iBook is fairly compact, but at 2.2kg I frequently wish I had something even lighter.

Dell Latitude D410Inevitably, compromises have had to be made to reach this level of portability. The first of these is the relatively modest, 12.1in screen size set to XGA resolution. I find a 1024 x 768 resolution quite restrictive, so prospective buyers should take into account what sort of tasks this notebook will be used for. If multiple documents need to be viewed at the same time, an ultra-portable with a small display is probably not the best way to go. But for presentations and text work it will suffice. The screen is a conventional 4:3 ratio and lacks the high contrast reflective coating that is all the rage these days in consumer notebooks, but again, this isn't the market this notebook is aimed at. It is, however, a rather dull display, even on full brightness. The contrast is pretty good, though, and the viewing angles are reasonable too. In fact the screen can tilt back until it's virtually flat though try as we might we couldn't find any real benefit for this. Suggestions on a postcard.

The next compromise is the keyboard. Corporate fat cats will certainly have difficulty getting their stubby fingers to type at speed on the keys, which are on the small side. The right-side Shift key has been shrunk, as has the space bar, but once I got used to it, thanks to a pleasing key action I was able to pick up some speed. After a while though, things do feel a little cramped, and I wouldn't want to type on it for extended periods of time. Above the keyboard in the middle is the power key and to the right of this is a rocker switch for the speaker volume and a mute button.

Next page: Verdict

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