Hardware

Review: Dell Latitude E5500 Laptop

The newly redesigned Dell Latitude E5500 laptops are all business; they are built for flexibility, mobility and security.

The newly redesigned Latitude line of E-model laptops replaces Dell's older D series. These laptops are all business; they are built for flexibility, mobility and security. Best of all, they are backed by a standard three-year Dell limited hardware warranty.

Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs (up to 2.66GHz)
  • RAM: Up to 4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM
  • Screen: 15.4" Premium WXGA, WXGA+ or WXGA+ with TrueLife
  • Storage: 7200RPM Free Fall Sensor up to 160GB, 5400RPM Encrypted Hard Drive up to 120GB or 5400RPM to 250GB
  • Optical Drives: CD-RW/DVD-ROM or DVD +/- RW
  • Dimensions: 13.99" x 10.24" x 1.48", 6.36 lbs
  • OS: Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Business with Downgrade Rights Service to Windows XP Professional
  • Price: Start at $549 direct
  • More Info: Dell Latitude E5500 information page
  • For a closer look, check out the Dell Latitude E5500 Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

The Dell Latitude E5500 targets business users requiring flexible, secure and reliable mobile computers. Small, medium and large businesses will all tap the Latitude E5500 line for reliable laptops. Whether used exclusively in the field or often as a desktop (with an optional docking station), these systems are highly customizable and (properly configured) possess the capacity to meet the needs of most every business user, whether those needs include common database crunching or office productivity tasks.

What problem does it solve?

Dell Latitude E5500 laptops provide business users with dependable, highly customizable systems. Whether organizations need a reliable data entry system that can be taken in the field or a versatile, high-powered unit for a traveling sales agent or an IT professional, E5500 series laptops can be configured to meet most businesses performance and mobility needs. Docking stations with a wide range of connectivity options (and several available security features) also make them great fits for executives who need to take their PCs on the road but easily connect to a variety of peripherals when in the office.

While priced higher than value or entry level models, the E5500 is backed by Dell's three-year limited hardware warranty. With hardware worries eliminated — which helps translate to lower costs of ownership — organizations can focus their energy on fulfilling business operations — which helps translate to improved productivity and profitability. The E5500 also supports systems management tools, such as Dell ImageDirect and Dell Client Manager, to further manage administration costs.

Organizations needing to ensure mobile devices are well-served by the E5500 series. Several security features are available. Purchasing managers can opt for encrypted hard disks and even a fingerprint reader.

Standout features

  • Highly customizable performance - Dell Latitude E5500 models are highly customizable. Users can opt for a wide range of performance capabilities, from Intel Celeron 2.0GHz CPUs to Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz chips, 1GB to 4GB of RAM and anywhere from 80GB hard disks to 250GB drives.
  • Numerous connectivity options - In addition to integrated 10/100/1000 gigabit Ethernet and integrated 802.11 b/g wireless, other networking options include 802.11 a/g/n wireless, an internal 56K modem and integrated Bluetooth 2.1. PCMCIA and SD/MMC slots are also available for connecting peripherals and memory cards, while four USB 2.0 ports grace the chassis (along with an IEEE 1394 Firewire port).
  • Strong standard warranty - Purchasing managers can add Dell's limited hardware warranty to Latitude E5500 orders, thereby extending next-business-day warranty replacement service several more years (up to five), if so required.
  • Numerous security features - Several security options enable locking down Latitude E5500 models. Among available security features are a 120GB encrypted hard disk, a fingerprint biometric reader, a 3M privacy filter, a Computrace BIOS Tracking Agent and even certified data destruction services.
  • Attractive design - The Latitude E5500 boasts a new sleek design that updates the older D series models that were beginning to look dated. The E5500 is as comfortable in suburban coffee shops as it is within mahogany-paneled boardrooms.

What's wrong?

  • Weight - Dell Latitude E5500 laptops aren't the lightest models in their class, especially when configured with longer-lasting 9-cell batteries. That said, the unit's 6.3 pounds is more than reasonable for a 15.4-inch business laptop.
  • Limited graphics card options - At the time of this writing (first quarter 2009), Dell only offers a Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD graphics card on the E5500. While the 4500MHD delivers more than adequate performance for completing most common office productivity tasks, the card doesn't boast any onboard memory. As a result, users needing to fulfill demanding video or photo editing tasks will be better served moving up to the E6500 series (where an nVidia Quadro NVS 160M upgrade is available).

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

The Dell Latitude E5500 is highly configurable and offers numerous connectivity and security features. Organizations needing a customizable, secure and reliable laptop capable of powering six hours of work via an available 9-cell battery will find the E5500 is a potent mobile computer.

While there are flashier, more stylish models available, the new sleek, simple design of the E5500 makes the series appropriate for most any business environment. With proven Intel components and several cost of ownership benefits (including reasonable pricing, an above average standard hardware warranty and centralized management features), the Latitude E5500s are a solid bet for most business users.

User rating

Have you encountered a Dell Latitude E5500? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit and compare the results with other TechRepublic members. Give your own personal review of the Latitude E5500 in the TechRepublic Community Forum or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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