by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2010
The delivery of four new laptops for another purpose presented the ideal opportunity to get some mileage in with Windows 7 and to do some comparative benchmarking on identical technology platforms - a low-stress, low-risk look at the sequel to the Vista farrago.
Presently the vast majority of the Windows user-base is entrenched in XP, having spurned Vista as being too bug-ridden and altogether a nasty little mess on the carpet. The most likely opportunity then is to leapfrog Vista altogether and jump straight to Windows 7 - but only if you think you're hard enough! Dell are wised up to this desire and the subject laptops were provided with Windows 7, but with an opportunity to 'recover' back to XP should the need arise. An additional backup is the provision of 'XP compatibility' mode as standard in W7 Pro Ultimate. Interestingly all the IT professionals for whom these Dells were destined plumped for XP - a conservative lot indeed!
The machines were Dell Latitude E4300, equipped with 6-cell batteries, Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 2.5GHz processors, 4GB of RAM and 250GB/7200rpm hard drives (phew that sounds like the script for a PC World advert!). Each was equipped with two 6-cell batteries which are swappable and each carries its own state-of-charge meter. The 6-cell batteries protrude outside of the case area by some way, but the benefit is almost 12 hours of running time with two batteries. The machine weighs 1.8kg, light for a 13-inch ultra-portable and some 200g lighter than the equivalent Macbook Pro. The screen is a back-lit matt surface encased in a metal alloy frame and back panel. The black, brushed finish is quite attractive.
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