Nitpicking in Nirvana
Unforutnately, there are a few configuration drawbacks. Dell includes a smart-card reader that, frankly, most people could do without, but its a fashionable check-off item in todays security-conscious enterprise. Unfortunately, unlike Gateway, Dell hasnt implemented IEEE 1394, so you iPod users are out of luck without a clunky PC Card. Dell also recently released the slightly thicker and significantly cheaper D500 line. It dispenses with the smart card reader and Gigabit Ethernet, but unfortunately also the Mobile Radeon and SXGA option. Also, no DVD writer appears to be available yet for the D line. However, with the lineup at the beginning of what seems will be a long, successful run, you can expect one to be available as DVD+RW drives accommodate the series design.Dell has even introduced an innovative docking system with the D line which, while a bit harder to sort out than it should be, allows you to orient the system at a good angle for use with an external keyboard, similar to the Sherpaq Oyster. While its hard to decide whether Dells recent commercials, starring the brown-nosing interns, are more obnoxious than the last round starring the ingratiating "dude" Steve, the Latitude D is definitely a step forward for the companys notebook efforts, at least on paper. Its the first Latitude that wouldnt get laughed out of a beauty contest with IBM and Sony, and in the Dell tradition, seems to have them both handily beat on price/performance. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:
Perhaps since this premium option isnt available, you can configure a reasonably loaded system for under $2,000 that includes all of the above options, including 512MB of RAM and an extra modular bay battery; carrying case; and your choice of three throwaway peripherals, including the miserable Palm Zire. Even without paying users to take the Zire off its hands, Dell certainly seems to be one of the value leaders in the Pentium M field.