The typical budget that a customer has when he goes out to buy a notebook is spread over a big area. Someone looking for a notebook can spend as little as Rs. 25,000 for a decent entry-level notebook or as much as Rs. 40,000 for a decent mainstream one, and even anything higher for an Ultrabook, gaming notebook or something that is a large-sized desktop replacement. The Dell Latitude E6430 is a laptop made for businesses and packs a punch with good hardware, lots of features and reliable build quality.
The Dell Latitude E6430
At the heart of the Latitude E6430 is Intel’s Core i5 3320M, a dual-core processor that utilises four threads in all. The processor is clocked at 2.6GHz and it’ll go up to 3.3 GHz with Turbo Boost enabled. There’s 4GB of RAM on the notebook, but Dell for some reason shipped it with a 32-bit version of Windows 7 Professional. This means not the entire amount of RAM can be used.
The Latitude E6430 has a 14-inch screen and runs a slightly better resolution of 1600 x 900, better than most of the laptops in the price range below it. We would have liked a more spacious 1920 x 1080 display though.
Connectivity ports on the side, with HDMI at the rear corner
The Latitude E6430 has a pointing stick like the ThinkPad line of notebooks by Lenovo. The pointer is flat and is a little difficult to use for longer periods. Of course, users can get used to it after a while. There is a second set of mouse click buttons for this reason. There are also dedicated volume up, down and mute buttons, so it’s quick to control the speakers on the notebook. There are status indicators present right above the keyboard, so you don’t have to keep peeping down at the notebook. There are indicators on the lid of the notebook, too.
The DVD drive has a small clip that springs open and can be used for removing the DVD drive. You can plug in any other optical drive in its place in seconds. There's also an ExpressCard slot and an eSATA socket for external drives.
It’s not like it’s complete with features either. For example, it doesn’t come with a webcam, which is quite shocking considering the laptop costs close to a lakh.
Design and Build Quality
The Dell Latitude is a monster; it’s large, it’s thick, but it doesn’t come with an equally large-sized screen. The keyboard doesn’t include a numerical pad. However, it’s laid out well and because of its width, it’s actually easy to get used to when it comes to a lot of typing. The keys are firm and have just the right amount of tactile feel to them. The size of the keys is larger than most of the notebooks that come with the chiclet-isolated keys design. The laptop has close to no spacing between keys, so there’s hardly any chance of making errors. There’s also keyboard backlighting, so it’s easy to work when it’s dark. It automatically turns the backlight off when you don’t use it for a few minutes; you can also tweak the brightness of the backlight.
Somewhat bulky, but houses only a 14-inch screen
The trackpad is a tad small, but the buttons on it are really nicely made. They aren’t tacky; they’re soft but accurate and they don’t miss a click.
When it comes to performance, the Latitude E6430 is nothing spectacular. It matches the performance of notebooks roughly in the Rs. 65,000 range. Tasks like video encoding and file compression don’t take too long, but a faster processor would have definitely helped a lot more. The Latitude E6430 also comes with a hard drive, which hampers performance further.
For example, file transfer tests show speeds of just 74.08MB/s while reading and 61.79MB/s while writing. Solid-state drives present on notebooks much cheaper, offer much faster speeds than this, and it helps with the general responsiveness of software. Graphics performance doesn’t impress either. With just a HD4000 under the hood, this is not a laptop on which you’ll be running high-quality games.
A dedicated Wi-Fi switch and more connectivity options
When it comes to movie watching and music listening, things are pretty good. The screen has decent colours and it’s a matte finish, so there’re hardly any reflections. Viewing angles aren’t too great and you’ll find colours going dark when you view from the sides or from the top and bottom. The speakers on the notebook are placed facing you, under the keyboard. The speakers although not very loud are very well detailed.
In our stressful battery test, it lasted close to two hours on its 6-cell battery. Things don’t get too hot either. There’s a large vent on the left side that helps keep the Latitude E6430 well under control.
Verdict and Price in India
The Dell Latitude E6430 – built like a tank
The Dell Latitude E6430 sells at a price of Rs. 94,139 in India. It’s not exactly the cheapest notebook or the best value-for-money notebook around. It's made for businesses. It doesn’t have a spectacular performance to boast of, but it does have a solid build and it’s going to last you a very long time. If you’re the kind of person who primarily works on documents and spreadsheets with the Internet and likes to chill out watching a movie every now and then, then you’ll find this to be a good long-term purchase.
Updated 23 May, 2013, 11:30 am IST
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