Dell Latitude D420: test and review

For its laptops for professional use, Dell has so far rather privileged function to form. Or the 420 Latitude provides satisfactory technical characteristics while being attractive and small. It is currently the smallest ultraportable proposed by the American manufacturer. With a range of almost a day’s work, the D420 is placed well vis-à-vis its competitors, including Lenovo. Weighing 1.5 kg, the new version with an Intel Core Duo processor, is available from 1300 euros before tax.

Black anthracite and silver, the case remains classic. Measuring 28 cm wide, 22 cm deep (24 cm with the 9-cell battery) about 2.5 cm thick, it holds easily in a bag. Its basically metal framework gives it a rugged look and gives the impression to cope with the vicissitudes of nomadic life. Like all Latitude laptops, Precision and Inspiron, Dell D420 qualifies as “RoadReady” (ready for the road), attribute meaning it has passed the moisture resistance test, the temperature , altitude, shock, and falls.

Like most ultraportables, the Latitude D420 is equipped with a 16 / 9th screen diagonal of 30 cm (12.1 inches) native resolution of 1280 x 800 WXGA UltraSharp type. Such a resolution for a screen this size can make the text difficult to read. We did, however, encountered no difficulties of this kind, either when using a word processing or conventional web consultation. Sharpness also compensates in part the impact of loss of image due to the small size of the screen. While the D420’s screen is not the brightest of those laptops we’ve tested, it is very readable, even in a brightly lit environment.

Despite the small size of the case, Dell has managed to insert a standard keyboard without key misplaced, cramped or hard. Ergot score and touchpad coexist, thus satisfying the two large mouse pointer control schools. Two mouse buttons games (left / right) are available: one above the touchpad, the other below. The touchpad allows vertical and horizontal scrolling -indispensables for navigating Web pages and long documents.

For professional use, the connector set is somewhat reduced: two USB 2.0 ports and a mini FireWire rear, a PC Card slot, a Smart Card reader, a microphone and a headphone jack on the side left. The video output is limited to a VGA connector. The highlight of the D420 has more ability to be able to offer internet access on the move at all times: 56K modem, Ethernet jack, wireless connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a / g, Bluetooth and is again integrated 3G modem. The latter, available as an option, provides access to the cellular network SFR / Vodafone. Warning: this option includes the integration of the SIM card is costly: more than 180 euros excluding tax. Like other models of the Latitude range, the D420 has a “Wi-Fi Catcher”: pressing the power on / off Wi-fi also serves locator Wi-Fi network, which remains active even when the lid the laptop is closed or the computer off.

Ultraportable, the D420 does not include an internal optical device, but Dell offers several options in this area. Thus the test computer contained a Home Media Base station equipped in particular with a DVI output, a parallel port, and a DVD burner.

For a system of its size, the D420 test was equipped with components perfectly adequate: Intel Core Duo processor clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB DDR2 (533 MHz) and 60GB (4200 rev / min). The graphics were managed by the chipset Mobile Express 945GM Intel which should perfectly suit the office work and occasional multimedia display. If performance is your least priority and if your budget is more limited, know that Dell also offers a processor-based configuration Core Solo, in France from 1150 euros.

In tests conducted by our colleagues at eLaptopComputer with iTunes and Photoshop CS2, the D420’s performance was lower than other laptops with Core Duo chips, such as the Satellite P105-S6024 Toshiba (admittedly desktop replacement more powerful). The highlight of the D420 is nevertheless its autonomy: 7 hours and 8 minutes (score obtained with the high capacity 9-cell battery, to 65 euros optional), 3 hours more than the Lenovo 3000 V100 ultraportable with Core Duo Processor similar configuration.

The basic warranty is three years, with on-site next business day. Telephone support is available throughout the lifetime of the product. Dell offers a range of complementary services: international warranty onsite service the next day (4 to 5 years), coverage against accidental damage and theft (CompleteCare), etc.

Test Results

eLaptopComputer testing applications

(More bars are short, the better the performance.)

convert AAC to MP3 for iTunes

Photoshop CS2

Toshiba Satellite P105-S6024



Dell Latitude D420



performance test MobileMark 2005 BAPCo

(More bars are long, the better the performance.)

Toshiba Satellite P105-S6024


Toshiba Satellite A105-S4074


Dell Latitude D420


autonomy test MobileMark 2005 BAPCo

(More bars are long, the better the battery life)

(Results in minutes

Dell Latitude D420


Toshiba Satellite A105-S4074


Toshiba Satellite P105-S6024


Configuring systems tested

Dell Latitude D420

Windows XP Professional, Core Duo U2500 processor Intel 1.2 GHz, 1GB of PC2-4300 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz, graphics chipset Mobile 945GM Express chipset, 224 MB hard disk Toshiba MK6008GAH 60 GB, 4,200 revs / min.

Toshiba Satellite A105-S4074

Windows XP Home Edition, Core Duo T2050 Intel 1.6GHz, 512MB PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz, Chipset Mobile Intel 945GM Express, 128 MB, MK1234GSX HDD Toshiba 120 Go, 5400 rev / min.

Toshiba Satellite P105-S6024

Windows XP Media Center Edition, Intel Core Duo processor clocked at 1.6 GHz, 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM PC4300 533MHz graphics chipset Mobile 945GM Intel, 128MB hard disk MHV2100BH PL Fujitsu 100 GB, 5,400 revs / min.