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Dell Latitude 6430u offers high quality throughout

Jon L. Jacobi | April 1, 2013
Whatever happens to Dell in the near future, let's hope that the company keeps making notebooks as nice as the Latitude 6430u. In a world of cheap-feeling merchandise, it stands apart. It's sedately handsome, ruggedized, remarkably stable in your hand and on the table, and a tactile joy to use. It's also fast and available with a wide variety of warranty and support options, as a good corporate computer should be.

The 6430u's port array is a nice blend of legacy and modern ports. The unit's left side sports VGA output, a USB 2.0 port, a Wi-Fi switch, the headset jack, and the power cord jack. The right side is home to a USB 3.0 port, the gigabit ethernet port, and a Kensington lock port for securing the unit. Another benefit of positioning the battery at the lower front is that Dell could center ports on the back of the unit, including a combo eSATA/USB 3.0 port and an HDMI output. Our test unit came with both dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Broadband (including LTE) and WiGig (60GHz) cards are available as well.

The unit we tested costs $1279 (as of March 27, 2013). Besides the already mentioned options, you can provision the 6430u with faster or slower CPUs, more memory, a larger hard drive, a smart-card reader, and the modular external USB drive enclosure that in our model came fitted with a DVD drive. Pricing starts at around $900 for an entry-level model and rises to a little under $2100 for a fully loaded system. A three-year warranty is standard, but you can opt for a 4- or 5-year option, as well as onsite service.

I rarely get this enthusiastic over a corporate product of any sort, but I'm a sucker for products that are tactilely and ergonomically superior. The Latitude 6430u is expensive, but most truly superb things are. Even consumers should seriously consider this ultrabook, since the entry-level configuration is more than adequate for most purposes, and the three-year warranty makes a big-box store's extended warranty unnecessary.


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