There are no dedicated buttons for enabling or disabling wireless, but this can be done instead by using the function key and pressing F2. To the left of the power switch are two lights that indicate when the integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios are enabled, and in the base of the screen are indicator lights for power, hard disk activity and charging status. The function keys also provide shortcuts for Standby and Hibernate modes. Dell has also done well to supply both a trackpoint and a trackpad so you can choose which control method you prefer. A utility enables you to turn off the track pad if you want to avoid unwanted screen taps.
There's no built-in optical drive - instead, there's an external MediaBase docking station, which Dell supplied with a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. This also adds extra Ethernet, modem, USB (two), serial, parallel port and PS/2 ports. There's also a VGA output, a headphone out and an external power connector. Attaching the D410 to the MediaBase was straightforward though I found that it I had to push it down a few times to get it to click into place. Once attached, the MediaBase's connections and the optical drive appear in Windows Device Manager.
Dell has provided a 40GB hard disk, which isn't huge but is reasonable for a machine of this size. Round the back of the notebook is a VGA output, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection and an analogue modem port. There's also a power socket and the connector attached to the external power block is pleasingly solid, ensuring that it will last the course of a life on the road. Indeed the build quality of the D410 is very good, with no flimsy surfaces or spongy plastics that often afflict cheaper machines.
At the right-hand side of the notebook is a single Type II PC Card slot. There's no Express Card support - something to bear in mind for the future. Next to this are headphone and microphone sockets, so you can use a headset, useful for making Skype calls. On the opposite side is another standard USB 2.0 port and a lanyard security connector. Finally, there's a 'ye olde' infra red port.
Ultimately, what's so impressive about the D410 is the amount of performance that Dell has managed to squeeze into such a small package. True, the 915 chipset's integrated graphics aren't that impressive but no one would think of doing any serious gaming on a notebook like this. More impressive are the CPU and I/O scores. The overall SYSmark 2002 score of 215 is great, and the Dell thoroughly outpaced the Sonoma-based Sony Vaio VGN-FS115B. This includes the battery tests, with the Dell system running for almost three hours.
The biggest criticisms that can be levelled at the Dell is that it lacks style. When you open it, you won't be as impressed as you would as you might be by an IBM ThinkPad or a up-market Sony. But when you're in an airport somewhere, and need to get some work done quickly, this won't matter too much.
The D410 is typically Dell. It may not be stylish but it is an impressive business sub-notebook, with a docking station for the hot-desker. Though the screen is average and the keyboard a touch cramped, when you consider the features, performance, build quality and the price, the Dell D410 will win over your mind, if not, perhaps, your heart.
|Dell Latitude D410|
|Price||£1291 inc. VAT|
|More info||The Dell D410 site|
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