Construction: Field Tested (cont.)
Keyboard – This is one of the better keyboard layout designs out there, as the function and page up/page down/home/end are all located in a logical and ergonomically sound places. Of course, we should note that while the home/end/page up/page down keys are situated well, like using a desktop keyboard you will have to stretch your fingers to use them. This has nothing to do with spacing the keyboard, which Dell has done just right; rather this is something you even need to do on desktop keyboards for the most part. Either way, this is technically the correct placement, and better/more intuitive than the aligning these keys on the right side in a single column.
The Latitude line typically has better tactile feedback than the Inspiron line, and the D810 follows that tradition. If you have used any Latitude notebook, you should have an idea of what to expect from the D810.
LEDs – There are two LED strips: one above the keyboard and one on the right hinge for the display. The LED strip above the keyboard include LEDs for (left to right, top to bottom): wireless connectivity (green when active, green blinking when connecting), and Bluetooth status (blue when active), num lock (green when active), caps lock (green when active), scroll lock (green when active). The LED strip on the right hinge of the notebook include LEDs for (left to right): power status (green when active), hard drive activity (blinking green when active), and battery charge status (solid green when charging, blinking green when charging- roughly when battery is equal to or above 90%, blinking orange when low - roughly when battery is equal to or less than 8%, solid orange when very low - roughly when battery is equal to or less than 1%).
TouchPad & Buttons – Like the keyboard, the touchpad is spaced appropriately, enough so that switching between the two is about the same as any other average notebook. Compared to the 6000, the touchpad for the 6000 has a better feel and comfort-ability factor, as it has a good compromise between fine grain and silken texture for cursor movement.
There is no scroll function available via a scroll touchpad section or separate toggle. Personally, we can live without one, as we tend to use USB mice with notebooks this large. Either way, Dell also includes the DualPoint system with their Latitude notebooks. In a nutshell, this is basically the same as IBM's TrackPoint, except that Dell calls their device "Track Stick." Again, this is a love it or hate it feature, but we like it and would rather take it than be without it.
Compared to IBM's TrackPoint, the buttons for Track Stick have less of a tactile feedback, shallower impression to click, and less distinction of a clear click. This is something we would like to see improved in the future. Additionally, Dell only offers one cap for their DualPoint system.
Speakers & Microphone – Unfortunately, there is no integrated microphone in the Latitude D810, which is too bad for those that like audio messaging and the like. The only way to get a microphone up and running is to hook up one via the microphone port. This is somewhat disappointing considering the size of the notebook, which is large enough to accommodate this design addition.
The speakers on the D810 are perhaps one of the loudest speakers put to use on a business notebook. Considering that Dell shares a base construction profile between the D810 and the 6000, we are inclined to believe they use the same speakers.
We normally test at 20% but that volume level on the D810 is equal to roughly 35% on many other notebooks. Even though this is clearly not a multimedia notebook, we are glad to see a wider volume spectrum, because this is built on a desktop replacement profile.
The audio quality on the D810 is about average, but in comparison, it isn't as good as the audio setup on the Z80K, in our opinion. For example, when we were listening to Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know, the audio started to lost its crystal clarity after the 45%~50% level. There wasn't distortion, but the crystal clarity associated with great speakers wasn't as apparent above 50%. As far as movies go, we put in the Matrix Reloaded DVD and the audio sounded fine, regardless of the volume setting. Audio quality will no doubt vary depending on what is being piped through the speakers, i.e. sporadic fight scenes from Matrix Reloaded make it harder to distinguish speaker quality compared to constantly playing harmonics.