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Dell Latitude D630
Over the past year or so, Dell has seen a dip in fortunes in the laptop market. Once considered the brand to emulate, both in terms of business support and product reliability, it's now been eclipsed by HP and a surprisingly resurgent Acer who's nipping at its heels. Rumors that Acer will soon surpass Dell as the world’s second largest notebook manufacturer has not helped the cause.
Despite such predictions of doom and gloom, Dell continues to offer some very good products. Its Latitude range is still among the best business laptops currently available. One of these is the Latitude D630 – the product we will be reviewing here.
Design and Features
Being a business class laptop, the D630 is very sober in its design and color. It comes with a two-tone matte black-and-gray chassis that looks quite elegant. The construction material is sturdy – the lid and underside of the laptop are made from magnesium alloy. This imparts the body of the D630 a certain amount of stiffness, which eliminates any squeaks that might develop over time. The hinges, while not super reinforced as in Lenovo’s products, are quite sturdy, nicely designed, and long-lasting.
Another good thing we noticed is that the area surrounding the LCD panel is thicker than normal, that is, the screen is a bit more recessed than usual. This helps to prevent the screen from developing LCD pattern problems that could occur if excessive pressure is applied on the laptop.
Thanks to the lightweight materials used, the weight of the D630 is a good deal lower than laptops in its category, and is actually quite slim. All these factors combine to give it a very pleasing and welcome profile. It does not, for example, look as if you are lugging a large aluminum sheet to mug people with.
The keyboard of the D630 is surprisingly soft. It offers very good tactile feedback as it has the right amount of elevation. The keys themselves are made of a soft plastic and have a good matte finish, which allows for hours of typing without fatigue.
As in almost all business class laptops, both a trackpoint and touchpad are on offer. What's more, both of these are actually usable. The touchpad has good recession, tracking and no annoying side buttons to accidentally press. The trackpoint has a nice grooved plastic construction that offers just the right amount of friction.
The LCD panel of the D630 is what we like to call 'routinely generic'. Though it offers a nice widescreen 14.1 LCD panel with a native resolution of 1440 x 900, the brightness and color levels are strictly muted. Even at maximum brightness the screen hardly stands out and while text is legible enough, multimedia activity won't be quite as pleasurable as on a normal consumer machine.
The D630 offers adequate peripheral and wireless connectivity. It comes with four USB 2.0 slots, a dual-layer DVD-RW, one IEEE 1394 (Firewire) slot, VGA in/out, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR and 802.11n support.
The D630 is based on the current-generation Centrino Duo platform and comes with a C2D T7300 processor, 2 GB RAM, X3100 graphics chipset and a surprisingly Spartan 80 GB HDD. In this day and age these specs are rather middle-of-the-road, and this was naturally reflected in our tests.
Our next test was the battery life of the machine. We tested the laptop in three settings: mixed mode (medium brightness, light processor usage and strictly document work), high performance mode (Excel number-crunching, highest brightness and intensive CPU use), battery saver mode (low brightness, very little CPU use and low usage such as web surfing). The results with a 9 cell battery were as follows.
Test no 1: Battery lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes
Test no 2: Battery lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes
Test no 3: Battery lasted 5 hours and 25 minutes.
As you can see there was quite a bit of difference in the prevalent battery life and it strictly depended on the level of use. The good thing is that the despite being pushed hard, the laptop achieved battery life figures comparable to ultraportables. These are excellent figures and a good tradeoff for the average screen it sports.
The D630 is a solid product. It offers good performance, decent build quality and really good battery life at a somewhat expensive Rs 86,000 upwards. Despite that it’s an ideal machine for anyone who’s in the market for a laptop, as it offers a good balance of features, good performance, light weight, and great battery life.