Dell’s Smallest Notebook


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Here I highlight the latest in the Dell Latitude corporate notebook family – the Latitude D420 – and how it measures up in portability, reliability, peformance and connectivity to its big brothers, the D620 and D820.

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29 thoughts on “Dell’s Smallest Notebook

  1. who cares about the D420 if you really were interested in what the public wanted you would be doing a demo of the XPS 2010!  

  2. After seeing the support(or lack of it) for the Inspiron 5150 line of laptops whose motherboards were defective after 12 months or so and which Dell refused to do anything about except charge full price to replace with another defective motherboard,  I would never purchase or recommend to anyone else a dell laptop, especially since the best predictor of future behavior is past actions.  

  3. I really like the media base idea. 🙂

    I hope Dell tried checking the durability of it (e.g. if I drop my laptop w/ the base attached, will the base go flying off?

  4. Nice presentation.  To me, the case/hinge durability and aspect ratio set the D420 apart from the Lenovo X60 which has similar features including the all-day battery.  Ultraportables have come far in a few years and are now a good fit for the high-travel managers in my company.

  5. Doug – if you think that this is in the same league as the ThinkPad X60 than you either work for Dell or have never seen a ThinkPad.  I guarantee the X60 cover and hinges are more durable; with this model Dell are catching up as the previous models made of "high quality ABS Plastic" were amoung the most flimsy notebooks I have seen, but, it does not come out on top.  

    The X60 is both lighter and smaller which is what counts on an ultraportable imho.

    The aspect ratio is a personal call but for most business users 4:3 is still the way to go, despite what the marketing machines would like us to believe

  6. Chris – The M2010 is pretty sweet. I’m using one right now. The D420 is for the complete opposite. I’d love to have BOTH.

    cajunspike – Yes Dell lacked customer support for the 5150 motherboard problem, but a customer can’t fix their 5150 if the motherboard is broken. Mine broke after 2 years of use, and it was replaced at no cost to me.  You are right that the best predictor of future actions is past actions, but that only means that Dell will try harder not to release a laptop with a defect like the 5150.

    Corey – You are so right, but I don’t think marketing it as the second smallest is a good plan. The D420 is a sort of X2.

    Snife – 4:3 is on the way out in laptops because of form factor. You can sit with a wider laptop on your lap more easily, the keyboards can be fullsize at a smaller screen size, and the D420 is about the size of a 8×11 piece of paper perfect for a normal briefcase. Business usually requires multitasking which has been proven to be more effective on a widescreen. The only area that is hurt by widescreen is older games that don’t support it. Thats just opinion though.

  7. funny that only X60 being mentioned.

    If I were shoppping for ultra-portable notebook, I’d look at:




    -Small (if not smallest)

    -Light (if not lightest)

    -Extra Long Battery Life

    -Optical drive built-in (not like other ultra portable that don’t have optical drive)


    Price (why? Because Fujitsu or Panasonic is not Dell)

  8. If you got yours fixed, then tell me how you did it, because all I get is ‘we can’t help you’.  This resulted in a $2400 laptop being a very expensive paperweight.

  9. I’m disappointed that the D420 seems to be positioned as an entry-level model! My clients who have the money to buy whatever they like all want the same thing: ultraportable, without compromising on CPU and video. Why only integrated graphics? Why only single core? Why only a 4200 rpm hard drive? Why stop at 60 gig? Vista is coming, and calling a laptop with integrated video ‘Vista compatible’ is, to my mind, borderline dishonest. I’m constantly explaining to people what ‘Vista compatible’ means when it comes to systems that lack 128-256 meg of VRAM.

    C’mon – where is the executive model? The Lenovo X60s doesn’t have separate video, true; but it’s dual-core, it’s *less* than 1" thick (not ‘thin’, that’s weasely marketing speak), it’s got great battery life, you can get a larger hard drive, etc etc. Maybe I don’t spend my life on airplanes, but I remain unconvinced of the superiority of widescreen ultraportables. "30% more pixels" just don’t help me when the world is a portrait-oriented one. The spreadsheet guys may find widescreen useful, but not me. Perhaps you can offer a video blog demonstrating creative ways to take advantage of 16:10 that haven’t occured to me? I don’t use AIM/MSN Messenger/etc, so that’s one skinny vertical screen-space filler that’s not relevant.

    Oh – and the 9 cell battery sticking out the front is unbelievably fugly. While the Thinkpad’s rear battery extension means you lose the rear edge of the system for cable connections, it doesn’t affect the overall depth of the unit while the screen is raised – because of the backwards slope of the screen. Or the aesthetics. And no cables on the back edge means you can rock the system backwards without worrying about stressing the cables and the system’s sockets by flexing them.

    Having the media slice is far better than the external DBay box w. cable. But please, please: if you have to grow the form factor for a 9-cell, go thicker, rather than that buck tooth/funky chin design. Make a dual core available. Offer separate video. I could place plenty of those with happy clients.


  10. Cajunspike, I published your previous comment, but removed the last sentence so your e-mail address would not be public.  My sincere apologies for not responding to your e-mail that I did indeed receive 11 days ago.  I will get it to the support team.

  11. It seems Dell may be serious about ‘doing the right thing’ by their customers.  Was contacted by dell customer advocate offering to correct the problem with the 5150.   It’s currently in their hands being massaged.  Follow up to come as things progress,  Thanks Lionel…

  12. Follow up to the 5150 saga.  Dell tried fixing the unit, but could not get it working satisfactorily.  They ended up replacing with a refurb(practically new) current model laptop.   My thanks(and this laptop isnt even for me) to Lionel and those at Dell in their efforts to make good on a dissatisfied customer.   Keep it up guys.

  13. I know sometimes you can get frustrated with support. But they have certain rules. I buy many dell products(probably order something every second week) for myself and company. I did have one laptop which had bad motherboard just after one year and was forced to pay $500 repair bill. Well, that’s what warrenty is for. If you bought some other brand, you would have to pay anyway.    

  14. Dell d420 looks a very good step in the way to get what most people who tavel a lot want:

    Weight: 1 Kg

    Height: 20 mm

    Screen: 16:9, graphics media accelerator not shared

    Core 2 duo, at least 2 gb sdram, > 1.8 100 gb encypted hard drive , external dvd

    Windows vista when available

    > 5 hours real batery life

    Wifi, 3G HSDPA mobile broadband

    Type II pc card, 3 USB, VGA, Tv out, RJ-11, RJ-45, headphone/speaker out, AC power, integrated microphone , infrared, IEEE1394, multicard slot

    Good speakers

    Price: €1,000

    When can I buy it?

  15. Hi – overall a very good and light computer.

    I have one question : I am unsure how to connect my dell d420 to a tv via the vga port – does the card support a tv-out function (would then only need to buy a vga/s-video cable) or not (in that case I believe I have to buy a separate converter ?) – Thanks for your help

  16. I have been using the D420 dual core since the summer when it was just released. I upgraded from a D410 that I used for about 4 months. As a previous Sony Vaio and IBM T40p user, I have been relatively pleased with the Dell systems. The 3-year business user warranty is a good safety net and we have not been let down by Dell. The D420 is a great little machine to use. The only gripe I have is the speed of the machine. It being a dual core I had expected it to be more snappy but in the beginning it felt that the D410 was faster. If you run Super-Pi this is confirmed: the D410 is faster than the D420 (possibly due to the tine HD used in the D420). So, do not look for a speed monster. The portability is what counts. Comparing the D410 and the D420 the styling has definitely improved and, arguably also the durability. So far is has been good going.

  17. I can’t say that I have ever been “in love” with a laptop computer (and I’ve owned my share) before the D420.  It was like an old friend from day one.  So solid, so light, so adaptable, so perfect for everything I need. 

    People can talk about and compare various specs all they want, but nothing will compare, or prepare you, for the experience of owning this little masterpiece of Dell’s.  I can afford any high-end subnotebook I want. This was my choice, all things considered – except cost. The fact that it’s extremely affordable was an unintended plus for me.  

    I couldn’t be happier. If it was lost or stolen tomorrow, I would immediately order an identical system with which to replace it. 

    Good work, Dell. Big kudos for striking what I consider a perfect balance all the way around.

  18. When is the next line of Latitude coming out?  I considered buying D820, but didn’t really care for nVidia graphic card options that come with it…  Love everything else about it, though.  I noticed the trend that the new models usually get released between Feb and May of every year.  Would this be the same case?

  19. Why kill the D4xx line?

    The D420 should have been named X2, for it is an upgrade to the X1.

    I have been using and in love with the D4xx line, using the D400 and the D410. Almost all of my colleagues at my company have switched from other machines to the D410 now. Why? Simple:

    It is very small but does not sacrifice computing power. It does compromise video (ie only shared video memory, etc), screen size and no optical drive – BUT the D4xx deal was:

    Small laptop, BIG laptop CPU performance.

    Which is what all IT pros need. We can develop on it when traveling, do demos on conferences and still enjoy not breaking our backs on a big hunk like the D6xx or even worse, the D8xx.

    So, now when everyone started switching, and I started noticing more IT/dev commuters with the D410, Dell kills the deal. There is no longer an upgrade. There is no machine that carries forth the offer that the D400 and D410 had.

    So my question is: When is an upgrade for the D4xx offer coming along? A latitude with big size computing power, hold the kilos, hold video performance, video size and optical drive.

    A laptop that focuses on work. Not an oversized PDA to “mail, surf and use office” on. A small machine that one can use for real work. Where is it? I need an upgrade!

    I demand an upgrade to D410 in 2007. Soon!!! 😉

  20. i just upgraded to D420. Is the SIM compatible with other Mobile company in other country? or just in US? I noticed, it doesn’t have internal microphone. I’m still testing it since our company switched from HP/Compaq to Dell i hope this is a good choice.

  21. I’m on the verge of purchasing a D420 and have a question which I’m not able to easily find an answer to.

    I think this machine is limited to 2GB of RAM addressable in Windows, and in order to get to 2GB you install a 2GB module in addition to 512MB of soldered RAM in the system.

    Is this true? Does this mean that a D420 so equipped has 512MB of RAM in it which isn’t of any value?

    Where does this limitation come from?


  22. I have Dell D410 laptop. It doesnt have any S port ( Tv port) . How can I connect my TV ( AV mode) to laptop in VGA port.





  23. [email protected]

    I can make up my mind about wich Latitude to purchase I still holding on to my D600 because I can’t make up my mind. I like the xps1330, but it can not be Ddock  that I have set up with a matrox 4head pci video card that I used when Dock at the office with 3 dell 20″ monitor. this are some suggestion that I have for the next model latitudes D4xx, D6xx, D8xx with (the gospel of unified communications) the standard options should be intergreated microphone, webcam, bluetooth, HDMI, USB,Serial, ethernet port, smart card, SD slot. drop the modem and pcmcia options. replace the vostro line with the D5xxx in three flavors.  that’s my 2cents.  

  24. if you have a secondary screen output you could get and adapter for the minitor output and just use that.

  25. I have had two dells. A dual core desktop that is still being used and the C400 that i just sold. That little C400 lived by the saying "take a pounding and keep on ticking!"

    My first pc was a TIny and it worked perfectly fine – 8Yrs in total! After that I've had a Toshiba A30 Acer Travel mate, HP DV6116eu and i've just sold the C400 to "upgrade" to the D410.

    I was dissapointed and let down by Dells service support (i even had insurance!) but they do know how to make and put together a solid machine – hence why i'm coming back to them and look forward to pushing the D410 to its limits.

    Any one got any advice to give about buying it second hand?

    Oh and dont upgrade to XP Service pack three – its rubbish!

    Both my Dell desktop and Hp laptop were working fine untill i had it put in and now explorer keeps crashing – Dr watson (running about 2/3 times) uses more then 5000Kb memory and causes it.

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