This review appears in the October 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents.

If you're in the market for a well-built, functional and versatile business laptop, you could do worse than the D520. The beauty of the Latitude is in its simplicity – and its low price tag.

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It isn't the most portable laptop at 2.9kg, but it won't be too much of a pain to carry once in a while. It's not geared for entertainment either, as it uses a conventional screen form factor, it doesn't have a standalone graphics card and the speakers aren't much cop.

However, everything else about the D520 is appealing. It's sturdy and looks smart – but not flashy – and the keyboard is a good size. The screen is strong, offering sharp detail and, while the lack of a standalone graphics card will prevent graphics-intensive applications running easily, for normal office applications it's more than adequate.

But the real selling point is the performance-per-pound ratio. Not many laptops in this price bracket would achieve a WorldBench 5 processing-speed score of 89. What really impressed us was the battery life: five hours and 45 minutes. And although the screen gets quite dim when it's unplugged, the Dell does a good job of preserving every last iota of power.

For a business laptop, a 60GB hard drive should be plenty; you might even squeeze the odd MP3 track on to the Dell without using up all the storage space. A DVD writer covers backup, and there are options for connecting to wired and wireless networks. There's a VGA output for connecting to projectors, and it slots into a docking station as well.

Dell Latitude D520: Specs

  • 1.86GHz Intel Core Duo T2300 processor
  • Windows XP Professional
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 60GB hard drive
  • 15in 1,024x768 TFT display
  • onboard Intel graphics controller
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11a/b/g facilities
  • Bluetooth
  • 1-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 339x270x33mm
  • 2.9kg
  • 1.86GHz Intel Core Duo T2300 processor
  • Windows XP Professional
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 60GB hard drive
  • 15in 1,024x768 TFT display
  • onboard Intel graphics controller
  • 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 24x/24x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) drive
  • 802.11a/b/g facilities
  • Bluetooth
  • 1-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 339x270x33mm
  • 2.9kg

OUR VERDICT

Provided you don't want it to double up as an entertainment tool, the Latitude has everything that a good business laptop should have: a good turn of speed, long battery life and high build quality. The price tag should please, too.

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