With the new Dell Latitude E5400, Dell has carved out an impressive laptop for your business needs. It hits a sweet spot with regards to solid build quality, the right combination of features, performance, and price tag.

First off, as is the case with most Dell notebooks, design matters. Despite its all-black industrial design, the Dell Latitude E5400's looks aren't lacklustre. With a metallic hinge and latch system, Dell has improved stability and security of the notebook, and the chassis is rock solid as well. The 14.1-inch matte screen (max resolution 1280x800), encased in a lid with smooth metallic finish, is average at best.

Powered from the Intel Core 2 Duo P9500, clocked at 2.53GHz (1066 MHz FSB, 6MB L2 cache), the Dell Latitude E5400 has a very fast processor. Complementing it is a handy bunch: 2GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB), 160GB (7200rpm) hard drive, and Intel X4500 HD graphics accelerator, along with an 8X DVD writer. All this is based on the latest Centrino 2 platform, Mobile Intel 45 Express chipset. Packed with this potent combination, rest assured you won't face a dearth of processing power and should be able to multitask with ease.

The Dell Latitude E5400 came pre-installed with Windows XP Professional only, though it included a Windows Vista Business disc. This initiative from Dell caters to satisfy both who are happy with XP and folks eager to try out Vista. We ran our benchmarks on Windows Vista and realized just how good this laptop is. WorldBench 6, our in-house real-world benchmark suite, pegged the Latitude E5400's overall performance score at an impressive 98, falling a point shorter than the 99 garnered by Dell Studio 15.

PC Mark 2005 score of 5350, PC Mark Vantage at 3498, and 3D Mark 06 score of 814, all agree to the fact that the Dell Latitude E5400 is a very good machine. Seldom is gaming associated with a business laptop, but F.E.A.R and Doom 3 played at medium settings averaged 15fps and 19fps, respectively. It has the potential for handling casual gaming well, if the rigors of a tiring day call for a quick stress buster. However, the six cell battery fell short of the four hour mark, lasting 3 hours 50 minutes on MobileMark 2007.

In terms of usability, input devices become all the more crucial in a business laptop. Those who have never navigated using a trackpoint don't know what they're missing. On the Dell Latitude E5400, once you get used to controlling the cursor with your index finger and the touchpad keys with your thumb, it is crippling to shift back to a traditional touchpad. Apart from that, the Latitude E5400's keyboard was well laid out, with full-sized keys and minimum flex. However, the traditional touchpad lacks palm detection, and led to berserk mouse movements whenever my palm encroached on the area while typing.

The speakers are mediocre and positioned vertically on either side of the keyboard. A fingerprint scanner is tucked away on the right. A well-looked after software bundle includes Dell ControlPoint (similar to Lenovo's ThinkVantage), useful for installing a host of recommended system apps and utilities. Among the standard input-output ports, the inclusion of an S-video, PC Card Type II and 3-in-1 memory card is especially handy, along with VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire, docking port and draft-N Wi-Fi.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

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Dell Latitude E5400: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processors/Intel Celeron M Processors
  • Genuine Windows 7/XP Professional/ Vista
  • Intel 45 Express Chipset
  • 14.1in Premium WXGA display
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 Memory, 800MHz
  • 7200 RPM Free Fall Sensor Hard Drive up to 160GB, 5400RPM to 250GB
  • DVD-ROM, CDRW/DVD, DVD+/-RW or Travel Lite Module
  • Intel 4500MHD Graphics Accelerator
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, 56K v924 Internal Modem (Optional)
  • 802.11g/a/g/n
  • Intel WiFi Link 5300
  • Bluetooth Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth 2.1
  • steel-reinforced Cable Lock Slots, Media Module and Hard Drive Locks
  • 2.54kg
  • 338x244x37mm
  • 4-cell, 6-cell or 9-cell extended life primary batteries
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processors/Intel Celeron M Processors
  • Genuine Windows 7/XP Professional/ Vista
  • Intel 45 Express Chipset
  • 14.1in Premium WXGA display
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 Memory, 800MHz
  • 7200 RPM Free Fall Sensor Hard Drive up to 160GB, 5400RPM to 250GB
  • DVD-ROM, CDRW/DVD, DVD+/-RW or Travel Lite Module
  • Intel 4500MHD Graphics Accelerator
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet, 56K v924 Internal Modem (Optional)
  • 802.11g/a/g/n
  • Intel WiFi Link 5300
  • Bluetooth Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth 2.1
  • steel-reinforced Cable Lock Slots, Media Module and Hard Drive Locks
  • 2.54kg
  • 338x244x37mm
  • 4-cell, 6-cell or 9-cell extended life primary batteries

OUR VERDICT

For a 14-inch laptop, the Dell Latitude E5400 weighs 2.56kg and is well worthy of your choice for a business laptop.

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