* Prices may differ from that shown
Let me make one thing clear from the start of this review: I've never reviewed a computer before. I'm not a technically minded person. This isn't going to be full of discussion on the various complicated sounding specs of the Dell Latitude E6220 - I can only write about my experience of the laptop, and how it performs on what I use it for.
Earlier this year, after much frustration with my previous work laptop, I was given the go-ahead to order a new one. My previous laptop wasn't huge, but it was heavy, so I wanted a lighter one, especially after carting the old one to and from a conference for nine days on the trot. I had a choice of two standard laptops (I didn't need the higher spec and massive workstations our developers and geoscientists use): the E6420 and E6220. Although it was more expensive, the E6220 was by far the lighter and smaller sized laptop, and so with my boss's agreement I placed an order for a Latitude E6220 with upgraded 8GB memory, upgraded i7 processor and external DVD +/- drive. I won't tell you the price the company paid for mine, as we have a corporate agreement with Dell, but the website price for a standard E6220 starts from £839 excluding VAT and shipping.
As soon as the Latitude E6220 was delivered, I was delighted with it. I was the first in my office to have one, and so I hadn't realised just how compact it was. I can't find the exact measurements online, but measuring mine it is around 30cm x 22cm x 2cm It has a nice sleek case, which Dell calls Tri-Metal and claim is hard-wearing, and a simple and understated keyboard and screen surround. The casing does seem to be hard-wearing, showing only a few marks after six months of use, including regularly getting battered around in my backpack. The only downside on first appearance was the battery, which sticks out the back of the laptop rather than being flush inside. I believe I have a 9 cell battery, but the 6 cell is the same. I was a bit concerned about breaking it, or removing the battery by mistake when moving the laptop about, but as it happens I have only done that once in six months. The Latitude E6220 has 3 USB sockets and an HDMI socket.
The laptop was set up for me by our IT department, but if it wasn't for the fact that I needed company specific stuff installed and my hard drive copied from my old laptop, I could have switched it on and used it straightaway with no complicated set up.
I use a docking station at work, and when I docked the laptop for the first time, I discovered a bit of a design flaw. The slot for a cable lock to insert into is on the back of the laptop, and can't be used when the laptop is docked. I can lock the docking station, but this involves a bit of faff with a switch as well as the cable lock, so it would be preferable to be able to lock the laptop directly. Incidentally, I should note that although I use a docking station in the office, I have used the E6220 extensively on its own, while attending conferences, meetings in the office, or working from home.
In terms of usage, I don't do anything particularly complicated. I run Microsoft Office extensively, including Outlook, and I also use the internet heavily as we have many network based applications. The Latitude E6220 copes very well with this. I have had no problems with running multiple Excel sheets alongside various applications, and I find that there is a small but noticeable difference in loading speed online from my previous laptop.
I use Windows 7 on the E6220, which I had only used a little before I got it. This isn't a review of Windows 7 so I'm not going to go into loads of detail, but I find it runs smoothly on the E6220, although even after six months I find myself confused now and then when expecting it to look like XP which I used for so many years.
One of the most complex things I use my laptop for is a company specific program which is similar to a database. This was one of the real instigators for me requesting a new laptop; I started using this program in January, and the slowness of it was driving me mad. It took five minutes to load, and then another five minutes to get into the section I needed to use. Colleagues with better laptops assured me it shouldn't be like this, and this was something that was instantly apparent when I started using the E6220. The program now loads within 30 seconds, which is much more acceptable, and working on it is no longer a chore and something I want to put off.
I have also used the E6220 for personal use, such as playing the odd online game - outside working hours when I've had the laptop at home I should add! The difference in performance to my own ancient personal laptop is incredible, the games run smoothly and quickly, with no sluggishness. Since the London Olympics have started I have been naughty on occasion and watched a bit online while at work - normally I stick to the live text coverage on the BBC site (which is brilliant by the way, highly recommended for all sporting events if you haven't tried it). The E6220 loads the BBC live video coverage quickly, and I've had no crashes or delays yet - it plays very well, and the picture quality is excellent.
On the subject of the display, I don't know a great deal about graphics and pixels and all that sort of stuff, but I do know that the display of the E6220 is very good. It is never fuzzy or blurry, and I find everything to be sharp and crystal clear.
The keyboard on the E6220 is, to me, excellent. I like the feel of the keys, they depress easily but not noisily, and typing on the laptop is a pleasant experience, preferable to my desktop keyboard.
Battery life is of course an important aspect of a laptop, and this is one part of the E6220 which did not perform well early on. In March I attended a company conference overseas, and one of my roles involved managing executive meetings. While doing this on the day, I used our online event planning software, but unfortunately the desk I was using had no nearby power sockets. The meeting sessions lasted three hours, but after two hours I had to swap my laptop for another one as my battery had died - no one else had an E6220 so I couldn't swap the battery only. This seemed incredibly poor performance to me, given that all I was running was one Internet Explorer window and Outlook on wifi, and I changed my display setting to be as dim as possible, and the blank screensaver kicked in after one minute. I was very disappointed by this early indication of poor battery life, and warned colleagues about it when they were considering new laptops.
However, on the few occasions since that I have pushed the E6220 to the limit of its battery power, it hasn't seemed quite so bad. For example, I had it at home last week when my partner took our laptop while he was away from home, and I managed 3 hours in an evening, running the BBC Olympic live text and constantly checking for ticket availability. Not only that but I left it on hibernate overnight and was able to check tickets again in the morning. And the reason I was running it on battery is because I forgot to bring the charger home from the office. The only difference I can see is that perhaps the wifi at the conference venue wasn't very stable and this caused the laptop to use more battery searching for stronger signal, although I never noticed any connectivity issues. And I'm only guessing at that anyway, I'm not sure if that does use more battery on laptops - but when my phone is searching for a signal, the battery drains quicker.
The E6220 doesn't have a built in DVD drive, but I have an external one which was purchased as an upgrade. I've only used it once, but it installed itself easily and worked quickly. Other USB devices have all installed and worked easily as well.
There may be those of you reading this who are wondering how some particular technical aspect of the Latitude E6220, but I'm afraid I've reached my limit and can think of nothing else to add. For average user experience, I hope I've covered everything. I am very happy with the E6220. I've found that it has sped up the programs I use, and it makes for a much pleasanter working day than my previous laptop and the cursing it brought from me. The only real negative is the battery life, but as I say I'm not entirely sure about that. The Latitude E6220 is a considerably more expensive machine than I would ever look at for a personal purchase, but for those of you who do want to spend a bit more and get a higher spec laptop, I would suggest you consider the E6220.
Starting at 1" thin, the E6220 offers ultra-mobility with its sleek 12.5" HD LED display. Stylishly armored top to bottom with a hard-wearing MIL-STD 810G tested Tri-Metal casing, a highly durable anodized aluminum display back, strong magnesium alloy wrapped corners and a tough powder-coated base - the Latitude E6220 is ready for whatever your work might dish out. This business-rugged durability carries through, inside and out, with a spill-resistant keyboard, a protective LCD seal and a 360 degree LCD bumper for added screen protection that can outlast the bumps and spills of everyday work. You can enjoy outstanding productivity while in flight or in low light settings with the optional backlit11 keyboard, long battery life with 3 and 6 cell ExpressCharge battery options and hot swappable USB 3.0, optical and hard drive external media modules that help to keep productivity in full swing. As a member of the Latitude E-Family, the E6220 provides go-anywhere productivity, confident security and efficient manageability in a durable design that's built to last - all that you've come to expect from the Latitude E-Family.