Dell's E-Series Latitudes have a strong business streak, sitting within the class of notebook that the company delineates to its small and medium business customers. The E6220 is a 12.5-inch notebook that measures in at 309x24.8x226mm and weighs a scant 1.43kg, making it very portable indeed. At this size you can't expect much more than a regular keyboard, and aside from inlaid volume controls at the top of the keyboard bezel, that's all you get. The keyboard is nicely spaced and has a good feel to it for basic typing tasks.
The E6220's brushed metal design looks decent, although the way the battery clips onto what is essentially a module on the back of the main body and display screen does give the E6220 the impression of having a rather large backside. It's not a huge problem in a laptop of this size, but it's quite noticeable when the system's being used that it juts out further than you might think it would, which could be a concern for frequent travellers wishing to use plane seat trays to rest it on.
Like most things Dell, you can configure the Latitude E6220 in a variety of configurations. The unit supplied to us for testing came with an Intel Core i7-2620M 2.7GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD graphics and a 128GB Samsung PM810 SSD drive, putting it at the top of the pricing pile with an online estimate cost of AU$2864.20. You could shave some of that cost off by dropping down to the standard 2GB of memory or swapping to a mechanical hard drive.
Dell's specification page for the E6220 suggests that a Core i5 or Core i3 processor are also within the product line, but when we checked there was no option button for the processor — or even a clear explanation of which processor was the standard, making it tough to guess what our asking price included. It'd also be possible to bump the price up slightly by including a six-cell battery rather than the three-cell model that comes standard. The standard installation calls for Windows 7 Professional 32-bit, but our review unit was running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, which you'd want on any system running more than 2GB of RAM.
In casual day-to-day usage the Latitude E6220 performs well. The keyboard is responsive, the screen is large enough to accommodate basic business tasks and it's not littered with features that are unlikely to be needed by most of its core SMB market. The SSD and 4GB of RAM combined with the Core i7 processor led it to a very solid PCMark05 benchmark score of 12,443. While graphics are unlikely to be a core concern of a machine like this, it even managed a little more than we'd typically see out of Intel's HD graphics, notching up a 3DMark06 score of 5141.
Having been sent a unit that was otherwise top of the specification line we were a little surprised that Dell supplied us with only the basic battery for the Latitude E6220. Usually when a vendor tries to sweeten the pot by supplying the best system in a range they go all out, but it did allow us to test how well the three-cell 30Wh battery performed.
Disabling all battery-saving features, pumping screen brightness up to full and running full-screen video, we were able to run the Latitude E6220 for an impressive three hours and 32 minutes. That's not the best battery life we've seen out of a portable notebook by a wide margin, but it's a good score for the entry-level battery, and suggests that it'd be well worth spending the AU$55 extra that the six-cell 58Wh battery will cost you.
We've been impressed with the notebooks shipping out of Dell recently — the budget-but-excellent value Vostro 3550 is a good example. At an asking price north of two thousand dollars at the time of writing the Latitude E6220 doesn't entirely sit in that kind of value space, although it's undoubtedly a very solid performer if pure grunt is what you need out of a compact travelling laptop.