I have always had an HP for my work at GreenDot. Now, out of that place, my new employer’s preferred tool is the Dell Latitude. When I started, I got the Dell Latitude 6430.

Never one for posting a review of anything technology the moment I get my hands on it – and having used it for 3 months now – I thought that this would be an appropriate time to post a review as a user.

First thing first – if you are in the market for an ultra-portable, easy to carry laptop – this isn’t the machine for you. Its heavy and large. Heavy enough that if I were traveling like I was in my prior job, I wouldn’t want it.

Also, for a laptop in the premier business segment, it could do with a better display. It’s not bad – its wide screen, large and the matt display does well to keep out reflections – but at least on my model, it seems a little washed out. And the viewing angles aren’t the best.

While on the list of gripes, the 6430 comes with a CD / DVD player / burner – and it probably is the worst designed aspect of this laptop. It resides on the front end on the right side of the laptop – and will pop open with the slightest touch of the machine (as in while picking it up during meetings and such).

Usual ports that most users need – 3 USB, 1 HDMI and one SD card reader (which I haven’t used). Also comes with standards like an integrated webcam and such.

Now for the good stuff. This thing probably has the best laptop keyboard I have used outside of a Lenovo ThinkPad. Fantastic feedback, great spacing. Its backlit with 3 levels of lighting which is more than adequate for my use. It has a fantastic, large palm rest with a rubberized covering – which is one of the best in any laptop I have used – including the Macbook Pro. Fantastic for marathon Powerpoint, Word and Excel projects. The palm rest is often an under appreciated aspect of a work laptop – god knows, we spend 8-10 hours on this thing everyday – and where you keep your palm and how comfortable it feels really, really makes a difference.

The touchpad is also adequate for a windows laptop. Its not Apple class – but then Apple redefined the touchpad for a laptop – however, it does support limited multi-finger gestures (like scrolling), which is nice.

Another great aspect about it is the battery life. Just fantastic – I don’t think I have ever had a machine (save for the Macbook Air) that comes even close. I easily get 4-5 hours out of it with 75% brightness at regular work usage – Powerpoint, Word, email and some browsing.

In terms of performance, it is easily the fastest Windows 7 laptop I have ever owned. Start to login screen is about 10 seconds – and this isn’t a fully loaded machine. Its an Intel Core i5 with 4 GB of RAM – which is fairly mid-market in today’s term. But I am nothing but seriously impressed by its performance and the way it handles the key tasks I throw at it.

And finally (but not the least), is aesthetics. Like I mentioned at the onset – this isn’t a light machine. It is large and fairly heavy. But Dell has done a fairly good job at “corporatizing” this machine. The lid is a grey / black brushed aluminium which looks pretty decent. It seems fairly well built (sorry, no unibody here) and is free of creaks and such.

I had a very low impression of Dells before I got this. For most of my professional career, I have always had either HP or Lenovo. I have to say that this machine has impressed me mightily.