Top ultraportable laptops
With screen sizes less than 14 inches and weights less than 4 pounds, ultraportable laptops strike an appealing balance between portability and performance
Dell Latitude E6220
Dell Latitude E6220 Review, by Jon L. Jacobi December 20, 2011
Excellent battery life
Very good performer
Heavy for an ultraportable
Bottom Line: Though pricey for a 12.5-inch laptop, this ultraportable delivers in performance and battery life.
Though not particularly svelte or eye-catching, the Dell Latitude E6220 fits the bill perfectly for a corporate ultraportable laptop. It's fast, it has state-of-the-art components, and it has the warranty and service options that large businesses expect. It also provides battery options that let you travel light or compute for nearly a day, depending on your need.
A 128GB Samsung solid-state drive combined with an Intel Core i5-2540M CPU and 4GB of system memory powered our test E6220 configuration to an impressive WorldBench 6 score of 132. Graphics work falls to the integrated Intel HD 3000 GPU, but the E6220 still managed smooth 1080p video playback, as well as frame rates between 30 and 40 frames per second in our low-detail, low-resolution gaming tests.
The E6220 is also available with a Core i7-2620M and 8GB of memory if for some reason you need even faster performance. At just over $2,000 (as of December 20, 2011), our test unit is hardly entry-level; with the faster CPU and doubled memory, you'll pay $2,300 and change. A 256GB SSD is an option for an additional $350.
This laptop can run for quite a while isolated from wall sockets. In fact, if you add the optional bottom-mounted battery slice, you can increase the E6220's run time from the "mere" 7 hours, 28 minutes that the internal battery provides to somewhere in the region of 20 hours. Of course, that fat bottom battery turns the normally 3.7-pound E6220 into a heavy little 5-pound rascal, but if you need the extra computing time, you need to accept that trade-off. The bottom slice also adds a nice forward rake to the unit, which helps when you're typing.
The E6220 is more accurately described as sedately handsome rather than stunning. Put another way: You won't get your head lopped off for showing up the boss's laptop, but it still looks like you forked over more than just a couple of Benjamins for your machine.
Ergonomics, a far more important quality, are first class. Despite the small footprint of the E6220 -- with its 12.5-inch, 1,366-by-768 display -- I'd fully adjusted to the keyboard after only a few seconds. It has a nice little bounce to it that lets you quickly set up a typing rhythm. The touchpad and buttons are, in a word, smooth. The screen has a wide viewing angle and plenty of usable brightness.
We found little in the way of junkware to clutter up the Windows 7 Professional operating system our unit shipped with. The PC comes with a utility for the webcam plus Trend Micro's Client/Server security software, and that's about it. You can opt for lesser versions of Microsoft's OS if you want to cut down on the price of the E6220. Most larger businesses and corporations will have their own productivity software and licenses, but you can add Microsoft Office 2010 Professional if you'd like -- for the full price of $349.
Although lacking USB 3.0, the E6220's ports and connections are otherwise state-of-the-art. You'll find a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports, as well as both VGA and HDMI ports to handle any type of external display or projector you encounter. Bluetooth is available ($20 and present on our test unit), and Dell offers options for 802.11a/b/g/n. Ethernet is gigabit, and the laptop includes an ExpressCard slot for legacy devices. A headphone jack and dual-array microphones sit next to the 1280 by 720 Webcam for voice input.
As part of Dell's Latitude line, the E6220 sports a standard three-year warranty, and the model is promised to be available for 18 months, with parts available for quite a bit longer. You'll also get around-the-clock telephone support -- and to be honest, you'll be treated better than if you'd purchased a box-store unit.
The Dell Latitude E6220 is a great performer with good battery life and all the support and warranty options necessary for a fleet rollout. It's sturdily constructed, it's up to snuff technology-wise, and overall it's a well designed and well conceived business laptop.