New Dell Latitude Notebooks: No More Business as Usual

Today we’re officially unveiling our new line of Latitude laptops to the world. Based on the amount of internal buzz and the volume of work it took to get us here, this is about the biggest product rollout I can remember—besides maybe the launch of the Latitude brand back in 1994 when Dell re-entered the notebook business. Enough with the history… let’s talk new products.

We’re introducing seven new Latitude notebooks today—they are the ones we build for business customers. For the entire lineup, our product teams have been focused on designing laptops that can meet a variety of business user needs. If you consider yourself a demanding user who rarely works in an office, take a look at my post over at to better understand what mobility features set these notebooks apart from the competition.

For notebooks, thin and light is a barrier of entry. Battery life is critically important. So is connectivity.  And these days, design matters more than ever. As we store more of our work on laptops, reliability and data security are also key. Our teams focused on making improvements in all these areas across the product line. Beyond that, we’re also introducing new technology options like backlit keyboards, external SATA drive connections, DisplayPort capability; USB PowerShare allows users to charge mobile devices via the Latitude’s USB ports even when the system is powered down.

For an overview of the new Latitude notebooks, watch this video from Brett McAnally from our commercial mobility products team:

Here are some examples about what to expect from these new Latitude notebooks:

  • Excellent battery life: some system configurations can get up to 19 hours. But it’s not just the largest batteries that benefit—we’ve made improvements on battery life whether you use a 6-cell, 9-cell battery or a battery slice. In this video, Jim Leftwich, the engineering lead behind these new notebooks, offers insight into how we did just that.
  • All models offer lots of connectivity options: Wi-Fi (802.11n), several mobile broadband options, WWAN, Ultra-wideband and Bluetooth 2.1. Most are WiMAX ready, and can be ordered with an optional GPS.
  • All kinds of security options: smart card and fingerprint readers, hardware-based disk encryption, contactless smart card technology. Another hardware-based security feature is Dell’s ControlVault solution that centralizes user identity key management and storage.
  • Centralized control via software—Dell’s ControlPoint software allows users to manage battery power, network and connectivity configurations and system security settings all in one place. I’ll blog in more detail about it soon.
  • In the coming weeks, we will offer color options on the E4200, E4300, E6400 and E6500 in addition to Mica-Brushed Metal Black: Regatta Blue and Regal Red. The E4200 adds Quartz Pink as an option, and the Latitude E5400 and E5500 are available in Matte Black.
  • Slick design that doesn’t sacrifice functionality: our team focused on balancing a aesthetics with durability and functionality.  Besides the looks, these laptops feature full-frame magnesium alloy construction and all-metal hinges. Take a look at this video where Steve Belt from our engineering team talks about how we tested things like the keyboards and the metal hinges on these laptops.

And for a bit more on the design front, I got a chance to sit down with Eric Bogner, who was one of the design leads for these new Latitudes to ask him a few questions:

Ultra Portable: When portability matters most

We have two models here, and they will both be available in the coming weeks. The 12″ Latitude E4200 (pictured below, note: click on any of the images here to see larger versions) starts at about 2.2 pounds—making it the lightest corporate laptop we’ve ever built. And besides the color options I mentioned above, the E4200 can also be decked out in Quartz Pink.

Dell Latitude E4200

And the Latitude E4300 starts at about 3.4 pounds. It’s our first Latitude to feature a 13.3-inch inch display.Update: I stand corrected: Direct2Dell reader KMan correctly informed me that his “venerable” Latitude CSx sported a 13.3″ display. Thanks for keeping me honest.

It supports options like a contactless smart card and a built-in camera. Both models come standard with backlit LED display to make them smaller and lighter and to give them an edge in battery life. They can also be ordered with a backlit keyboard and next-generation SSD drives.

Another cool option that will be available on both the Latitude E4200 and E4300 in the coming months is something called Dell Latitude ON. It is an application that gives you access to your e-mail, contacts, calendar, attachments and the Internet without the need to boot into the system’s main OS. The Dell Latitude ON mode will enable multi-day battery life since it utilizes a dedicated low-voltage sub-processor and operating system. I’ll share more specifics on this feature in the future.

Essential: The features that you need

The Latitude E5400 and the E5500 laptops are designed for customers who want the best value possible in a business laptop. But that doesn’t mean we skimp on features: both models support options like fingerprint readers. The Latitude E5400 supports options like mobile broadband and GPS while the larger E5500 offers options like dual pointing devices. The 14.1″ E5400 starts at $839 and the 15.4″ Latitude E5500 starts at $869.

Dell Latitude E5400

Mainstream: A balance between top performance, extensive feature set and price

These two notebooks offer the widest range of battery options and overall features. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a feature, either of these laptops probably offer them. These support options like backlit keyboards, LED backlit displays, a battery slice option, a camera or even a 256MB discrete card graphics option. The 15.4″ Latitude E6500 provides support for the stringent Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). The Latitude E6400 starts at $1,139 while the E6500 starts at $1,169.

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Besides these Latitudes, today we also unveiled the Latitude E6400 ATG semi-rugged laptop and two mobile mobile workstations:The Dell Precison M2400 and M4400 products. We also introduced a concept 17-in mobile workstation that supports up to 16GB RAM, upcoming quad-core processors, a graphics card with 1GB and up to a terabyte of storage on two hard drives. You can find more information at I’ll blog about all of these products soon.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca