On my recent trip overseas I packed my new Latitude E4300 notebook and was extremely impressed with how well it performed. This ultra portable platform was designed to offer many of the comforts and features associated with larger notebooks, but in a form factor that was easy to carry around. It delivers on all counts.
One of the first things I noticed is that it’s so light and easy to pack. I spent over 45 hours in airports and flying round trip, and I also carried the unit back and forth to the Mall of the Emirates daily – where there are Wi-Fi hotspots. On previous trips with my 15” Dell M65, I returned home with a sore neck and shoulder from lugging around the bag. This is the norm for me. On this trip I experienced no stress or soreness.
One of the highlights was when I took the laptop out for the first time on the plane. I was in coach from Austin to Atlanta on an MD88. As the pictures show below, the unit fits easily on the tray table, and the LCD panel opens into the well area giving a perfect view angle without any trouble. I actually was able to move the unit over to one side and put my coffee on the table, but figured I was one episode of turbulence from a wet laptop at that point.
The backlit keyboard is a must. On all my flights and in my room this feature was invaluable. Gone are the days of aiming my screen down into the keyboard to see what I was typing. The keyboard itself is the best I’ve felt. In addition, I had some curious passengers who noticed the new look (maybe the color had something to do with this?) and one man asked to try the keyboard. He astutely noted that this was an improvement for Dell and said he thought it looked and felt as good as the ThinkPads he had used in the past. I could have sold him my unit on the spot, but instead directed him to the Dell website.
The E4300 also uses the smaller adapter than my old D620, and this made it even easier to carry around. Boot and recovery times are quick. We measured the time to resume from suspend at around 30 seconds yesterday. This is much improved over previous Latitude models. Screen brightness and clarity are great, too. If there is one negative about this system, it’s that the fan on the left side of the chassis blows hot air that I often felt when my left hand rested near the unit. Everything else worked great. The wireless connectivity was solid, and even where I got low signals the speed remained fast for uploads (Facebook photo albums) and page loading.
Lastly, I noticed the improvement in the point stick device. I am a lifetime touchpad user, but every now and then I caught myself trying out the point stick. For example, when I had my bag on my lap in front of the notebook getting ready to shut down, it was easier to reach around and use the point stick. I’m no expert on these, but it works very well compared to others I’ve tried. I don’t think it would take much time at all to make the switch if I wanted to.
This is the best notebook I’ve ever traveled with, period.