Latitude 13 Review

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by Tsunade_Hime, Dec 3, 2010.

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  1. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    By Mike Wu

    Overview

    The Latitude 13 is an ultra slim notebook with a 13.3" screen and houses the GS45 chipset. Weighing in at little over 3.33 pounds, it leads the ultra slim class without breaking the bank. Pricing starts at 459 as of this post and there are a variety of options available through Dell.

    Specifications

    My Latitude 13 is configured as:

    - Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 @ 1.3 GHz
    - 13.3" WLED backlit screen (1368x768)
    - 2 GB DDR3 1333 RAM
    - Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics
    - 160 GB 5400 rpm HDD
    - 65 W AC Adapter
    - 8x Dell External Slim ODD
    - Intel WiFi Link 5100
    - 6 cell 30 WHr battery
    - Windows 7 Professional 32 bit with media
    - Dimensions .65" x 13" x 9"
    - Weight is 3.36 pounds including 6 cell battery

    Reasons for Buying, and Purchasing

    I've been looking for a new notebook for a few months now. I knew I wanted a lighter, slimmer notebook. I absolutely love my Vostro 1500 but for surfing the web, it was way too bulky to lug around. I also had a ASUS 900HA netbook, but was way too weak for surfing the web or just doing general tasks. I knew I was looking for an 11-13" slim notebook.

    I have only owned Dell notebooks, so I was inclined to purchase another, although I did look at other vendors. I looked at the dm3 HP series but quickly realized it was out of my price range, as well as a poorly designed power button quickly evaporated my interest at getting an HP notebook. ASUS didn't have anything that fit my budget either.

    Funny enough, it was during my work shift when I was given a work order to remove a WiFi card from a laptop for 30 dollars which is where I saw for the first time a Dell Latitude 13. It quickly grew on me how light and thin it was. Then a quick Google search revealed they started around 400-500. Although it wasn't until a few weeks later another work order was given to me, backing up data on a water logged Vostro V13, very similarly spec'd Latitude 13.

    I checked the prices again on Dell, and although I was set on a Vostro V13 as I had good experiences with Vostro, did not have the configuration I wanted. I search Latitude 13 on the Dell Outlet store, and found exactly what I wanted for the price range. So hurried I ordered it on November 29th, and it arrived December 2nd.

    First Impression

    [​IMG]

    At first I saw the refurbished box, my heart dropped. I have seen very many refurbished machines in the same type of box. I thought oh jeez is it another bad experience with a refurbished unit, as I had not bought a refurbished Dell before. After opening it up, I was shocked to find no foam, no packaging peanuts. I guess that's how Dell sells refurbished units for cheaper, no packaging. This quality packaging was lower than how we ship units at work to Vendors for warranty repair. Thankfully everything came out good.

    Construction

    [​IMG]

    When I first opened it, it was like when I did the work on the Latitude 13 and Vostro V13 at work. Almost no flex, very smooth gliding hinge. The outer part of the notebook is brushed aluminum, the inside bezel, and palm rest made of plastic isn't the greatest quality, but is perfectly acceptable for a notebook of this price range.

    [​IMG]

    Back side where almost all the connectors are. You get 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 USB/eSATA combo port, 1 VGA out, charger port and the RJ-45 10/100/1000 port.

    Don't know where my right side and front pictures are, I'll upload it later

    [​IMG]

    Left side with no connectors/ports

    [​IMG]

    How the LED screen looks with the lights on.

    [​IMG]

    And how the LED screen looks with the lights off. Hardly a difference.

    Keyboard, touchpad and LED's

    Keyboard is nicely laid out, your atypical 13" keyboard. The keyboard has very short travel length, although you get used to it easily, is very good for typing. No keyboard flex as I can see, so I rate the keyboard decent.

    Touchpad in my opinion is less responsive than some notebooks I have used in the past. My Vostro 1500 touchpad was very responsive to the touch. This touchpad reminds me of the 15R, and many new touchpads where it feels kinda laggy or disconnected. Nonetheless easy to get used to. Touchpad buttons have short travel length and are very responsive and less clack than my older Vostro.

    Power button has a fair push to it and is LED lit, as well as the activity lights which include: HDD, Wifi, Bluetooth, Num lock, Caps lock, and Scroll lock which aren't overly bright but are clear to see.

    Display

    Though this is my first laptop with an LED screen, I have seen many before it. For the price tier, I put this up there among brightness is concerned. Turned up to the highest levels and it maybe be a bit blinding but overall very good.

    Sound

    As predicted, the sound quality isn't so great. The speakers aren't awful, but certainly nowhere near Apple quality speakers. The speakers do get fuzzy at highest volume settings, but headphones are good enough for being a sub 550 dollar business oriented notebook. Volume is clear nearby and across the dining room you can still hear it though sound doesn't follow all the way through.

    Processor and Graphics

    Coming from a faster Merom based Core 2 Duo as well as using my i7 gaming desktop, the SU7300 processor is absolutely fine for web browsing, the occasional flash game, and Youtube. I have used many other thin, low power notebooks and by no measure is this one of the worst. Though during startup when loading it does kinda take it's time loading, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    Graphics are again what you would expect from a thin notebook. It can do Word, emails, yet handle Youtube, HD video, and basic Flash games without any trouble. My friend even ran Day of Defeat Source on 1024x768 resolution on mediums settings lag free, I have yet to try that.

    Noise and Heat

    The fan is inaudible almost 90% of the time. When browsing the web or writing emails, you won't even notice it. Even under heavy load, like running Prime95 the fan is barely audible.

    Under idle conditions, the palmrest is very cool to the touch. Under even heavy load with the HDD located right on the left bottom palm rest, you do not even feel the heat. The top of the keyboard starts to exhibit some heat, but again barely noticeable for me.

    Battery life

    Now upon ordering this notebook, I knew it only had a 6 cell 30 WHr battery. Leaving the WiFi on, and the screen 1/2 brightness and idle, I managed to squeeze 3 hours and 50 minutes before the battery got to 10% and the warning. Then charging it back and the next morning, I simulated 2/3 brightness and WiFi on and browsing forums and the web, and I got to 10% in about 3 hours 2 minutes. Again, I simulated heavy use by playing my Kenshin anime in VLC DVDrip with 2/3 brightness. After about 2 hours and 25 minutes, the battery 10% warning came out, kind of disappointing to me. The thin and lightness is sort of pointless if you have to find a wall outlet every 2-3 hours.

    Conclusion

    After I placed my order, I kept on checking on the arrival day. After about 1.5 days of testing, I still believe I made a good choice for a web browsing notebook. I went through work and multiple places today (McDonalds, Starbucks) and people were goggling their eyes at my thin Dell notebook. Many were more shocked when I told them I only spent 560 dollars on it. People who think Dell is a second rate electronics company, I urge them to buy their business line and think twice about their opinions. Overall I am very happy with my purchase.

    Pros

    - Very study construction for sub 550 dollar notebook
    - Aluminum outer housing is visually appealing
    - Good performance for this price tier
    - Ultra thin and low footprint
    - Very cool operation
    - You get alot of computer in a very small package for uber cheap.
    - As expected from a business model, NO bloatware at all.

    Cons

    - Mediocre battery life
    - Placement of the hard drive (prone to damage if user pounds on palm rest)
    - Very few connectors
    - Prone to scratches
    - Subpar speakers


    Did you like this Post? Did you learn something from it? Then vote for it in the NBR Amazing Content Contest
     
  2. Nick

    Nick Mr.Mischief

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    Cool review!
     
  3. Rodster

    Rodster Merica

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    Enjoy your new laptop :cool:
     
  4. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    Heh thanks guys. I absolutely love my Latitude 13. The are only 2 small drags if you can call it that; No backlit keyboard (I've been looking for like a month now) and the mediocre battery life (but I already kinda knew that).
     
  5. flatsix911

    flatsix911 Notebook Evangelist

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    Great review ;)

    I have also been looking for a thin and light laptop to supplement my Monster ASUS G73JH.
    I first considered the Adamo - too expensive and poor keyboard design - and the Alienware M11 R1 - too thick and bulky for an ultra portable.
    Ultimately, I found that the Latitude/Vostro 13 had the best combination of consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) CPU, small form factor and cool looking design.

    The deciding factor was the price point. Right after CES 2011, Dell started a series of promotion deals to clear out most of the Core 2 Duo low-voltage processors to make way for the new Sandy Bridge CPUs next month. I could not pass up the $399 deal for the Vostro V13 with the SU7300.
    The expected delivery date is February 2 and my planned upgrades include 64-bit Win7, 4GB RAM and a 128 SSD.

    Here are the promo specs if interested:

    Dell Vostro V13 13.3" Ultra Thin Notebook $407at Dell Business The Dell Online Store: Build Your System
    Dell Business has the Dell Vostro V13 13.3" WLED Ultra Thin Notebook for $399 + $8 shipping = $407 shipped.

    Features
    • Intel Core 2 Duo ULV SU7300 1.30GHz,
    • 2GB DDR3,
    • 320GB HDD
    • Win 7 HP x32,
    • Intel GMA 4500MHD,
    • 1.3MP webcam,
    • 802.11b/g/n
    • 6-cell battery
    • Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband

    Interesting reading on why CULV Notebooks make sense:
    Quick Look At Asus' CULV Notebooks: The "Premium Netbooks" : CULV Notebooks: The Premium Netbooks

    [​IMG]
     
  6. sdotahn

    sdotahn Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hey Tsunade_Hime.

    just came across your review for the Latitude 13 and i'm quite impressed with the overall thoughts on this little machine. I'm actually thinking of getting one with exactly the same specs as yours but with a 500gb HD instead. I live in the UK and know a place that selling one for pretty cheap. A fully configured from Dell can cost around 800 pounds here but i've found a refurbished one for 400.

    What i wanted to ask is are you still satisfied with it? in terms of daily basis usage....word, excel, HD video, and surfing internet.

    i just need a small laptop that i can use for maybe 6-12 months that i can use on the go and at home (as a desktop replacement).

    Do you think its the best in the market at this size, considering price, design etc?

    Ta!
     
  7. Rodster

    Rodster Merica

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    I own a Vostro V13 which looks identical to the L13 and I love mine. For price vs quality, it's an amazing value. I'm seriously considering buying a new one for $349.
     
  8. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    Yeah it's after nearly 4 months, I still absolutely love it. I just put in a 80 GB Vertex 2 SSD in it so I reinstalled Windows 7 Professional but 64 bit as I have the recovery media.

    The SU7300 and 4500MHD can easily tackle office work. YouTube, HD videos, and light gaming can also be done on it.

    For the price and the build quality you aren't really going to find anything else besides like a netbook but I would take this machine over a netbook. The only real contenders against this would be the Lenovo ThinkPad x120e and the HP dm1z both with the Fusion APU.
     
  9. sdotahn

    sdotahn Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yeah i was also looking at the x120e but heard there were fan problems and shuttering audio. Plus it was not released in the UK so therefore have to order from the US which is inconvienent.

    L13 is the way to go for me i think!

    cheers.
     
  10. sdotahn

    sdotahn Notebook Enthusiast

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    well i considered the vostro v130 but figured latitudes are better built and the overall quality is superior to vostros? i might be wrong on that...
     
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