Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dell Latitude E6400 first impressions

Where to begin? It has a completely redesigned exterior and IMHO looks a bit more like the stinkpad laptops. That aside, the slick black top does look nice. The battery has been relocated to the rear of the unit and they added firewire, usb powershare (which allows you to charge devices off of it while it's off), HDMI output, SD Card slot, eSATA port, and an optional built in webcam for the lid. It also feels lighter but I'm haven't decided yet if it feels as sturdy as the D630 series that it replaced. The only downside so far is that it only has 3 USB ports but honestly it's a fair trade. The power cord has a glowing blue light near the plug which is probably just for bling but to me it's a power system troubleshooting tool (confirming power is getting there).

The new BIOS interface looks like it was designed by the guys who did the UI for the diagnostics CD. It has built in mouse support and a few menu tweaks. It didn't prompt with an option to go into BIOS from the boot Logo so I used the F12 boot menu option to get into it. One step backward is that it wouldn't let me use special characters in the admin password (ie $%^@). These type of things are common for major version changes and will probably be ironed out in a few patches.

The new docking station selection is pretty snazzy and come with multiple elevation options. The one I got has Dual DVI and HDMI ports as well as the base VGA port.

Overall the performance has been good so far.

Updated: 10/12/08 - Upon closer inspection, it's actually a DisplayPort in the back and not an HDMI, but you can buy an adapter from Dell. It appears they're still trying to push the DisplayPort technology even though the rest of the world is going HDMI.

5 comments:

OneManThreeKids said...

I got the E6500 with a docking station. Do you know if you can get both the laptop display and DVI ports to be active all at once for three monitors? I tried everything I knew and only got two.

Gnawgnu said...

Unfortunately I think you can only do two displays total with the Dell dock due to a limitation with the video controller. (which I know sucks). I'd say try the HDMI out but I think it's tied to the same DVI controller as well.

Alternately, you could try out one of those USB to DVI dongles to enable that third monitor.
http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/19/gefens-usb-to-dvi-adapter-handles-uxga/

LuminaryPizza said...

I have an E6400 but no dockingstation. What I am wondering is whether the display port and vga port can be used to run to seperate external monitors.
Secondly if you can do that I wonder if the laptop screen can work as a third screen (that would be nice ;))

L

david said...

Sadly the docking station for the E6400 isn't all that useful ... because there's no capability to 'undock' the laptop.

Dell has dismissed this as the system is optimized for 'hot undock'.

They seem to have ignored the fact that using the undock function (built into Windows) tells the OS to shut off external devices connected to the dock.

Failure to use this can cause data that hasn't been written to an external disk to be lost.

I've written up my problems with the E6400 on my blog.

Paul in Maryland said...

At work, I have an E6400 running Windows XP. Using the docking station, I run two Philips 23-inch LCDs (1920x1200), each run in portrait mode through a DVI port. I've tried connecting a third Philips 23, using the dock's VGA port, but only two eternal monitors can be recognized at a time. If I open the lid when the E6400 it's docked, the "two portrait Philips" profile goes haywire and the laptop's display replaces one or both of the Philipses. Try as I might, I can't get the Nvidia control panel to let me see, much less use, three displays.