Dell Latitude D430 Versus Sony PCG R505GL

Wow it has been a long time since anyone has posted on this blog, I have been extremely busy with work and school but since school is done and I took the rest of the year off, well here I am.  I bought my 2nd laptop back in 2003 that was a 12.1″ screen model which I loved, I recently bought my 3rd laptop and bought another 12.1″ screen model. I was currently looking at Dell Latitude D420s, Dell Latitude X1s, Sony Vaio TZs and a few other laptops. When I took my new job, I found out I was able to get a Dell Latitude D430 (upgrade to D420), that was configured to my companies specs for a really great deal so I jumped on it. Before I found that deal I was leaning towards buying an X1 because it is a tad smaller. I already have a powerfull desktop machine so I’m really just looking for portability in my laptop. I didn’t research the D430 as much as the X1 but when I received the D430 I very pleased with the laptop.

First off, I will list the specs of the 430 it is 1.2Ghz Core 2 Duo processor with a biometric reader, 2GB Ram, 80GB 1.8″ HD (ipod size), Intel GMA950 video card, bluetooth module, 12.1 WXGA screen, SD card reader, PCMCIA card,  external DVD RW, Windows Vista Business (XP Pro also included) all for around $1200. The laptop I’m going to compare it too is my Sony PCG R505GL, it is a 1.2Ghz P3M processor, 640MB Ram (256 orig), 80GB 2.5″ HD (30GB orig),  Intel 82830GM video card, memory stick card reader, PCMCIA card and a docking station with DVD /CDRW. I bought this for around $1200 in the spring of 2003. I was already use to having a compact laptop so when I got the 430 I was extremely surprised in how lightweight and smaller it was than my R505.

This machine did not come with a docking station like I received from the Sony, but I was able to pick one up from ebay for a cheap price, a lot cheaper than what Dell would have charged. There are only a couple quarrels that I have with the dell. First off, since it uses a 1.8″ HD and not the regular 2.5″ the hard drive is slow due to the RPMs only being 4200, so when it reads or writes to the disk it takes forever! There is a 430 model that comes with a SSD that should definately speed up the process. Another thing is that the Sony had a magnesium alloy casing around the monitor which is very strong. I can push down on the outside of the Dells casing which I don’t like. Also, one last minor thing is that the Sony came with a Jog Dial wheel which I used as a scroll wheel near the touchpad, I really miss that feature, don’t know why other manufacturers don’t add something like that.

Some cool new features that I get with this laptop is that it has a pointing stick in case I don’t want to use the touchpad. It has a biometric fingerprint scanner which provides added security. Dual Core is great, I don’t know the spec comparison of Core 2 versus P3M so I can’t tell you if a single core is the same speed as a P3M, but having an extra core really helps out. I have Maxed out the Memory to 2GB but I’m going to attempt to try for 3GB since the chipset handles up to 4GB.  Also I have built in wireless which is standard now of days but it wasn’t when I bought the sony. I still have an extra mini pcie slot in which I can put hopefully put wirelss USB, Sprint EVDO card, or possibly SSD in the future. I feel that its great to have the ability to upgrade minor things.

This machine came preloaded with XP since that is how my company orders it but I quickly installed Vista and truely am loving it. I beta tested Vista on a machine that could barely handle it, it is nice that I now have a machine that can use vista to its full potential. One other thing that wish, is that laptop manufacturers can make laptops better by providing better graphics cards. This laptop of course uses built in graphics card that is minimum to run Windows Aero. This also gives my Vista rating a 2.0 where every other category is around 4+. I know that the laptop is marketed towards the business user but they should still be able to have a better running graphics card.

My future plans for this machine is to attempt to put in a 2GB Ram chip in it to see if it can handle 3GB overall, that would be superb in which this machine will last me longer than 4 years. Find out if the SD card reader handles SDHC cards if it does find a 4GB card and if it does not put in a 2GB card to use Vista’s ready boost so it will cache to the card and not the slow hard drive. Buy a PCMCIA Mogo bluetooth mouse. This is where I can keep a bluetooth mouse inside my PC card slot while it charges and pop it out to use it on the go. I really hate lugging around large items or even having something stick out of my laptop. I really hated that my Sony didnt have a mini pci slot to put in internal wireless so I had to use a PCMCIA wireless card. I want to get my hands on the extended battery so I can sustain those long trips to caribou coffee with out brining my charging adapter. I really would like to make this machine a real pack up and go and not carry around a 100 extra things to use it.

Now for the comparison, as you can see in the pictures that the dell is quite smaller than the sony, and the sony is already a small laptop. The dell weighs half as much as the sony, at least it feels like that much. I feel that the Dells Keyboard is a well built keyboard where the sonys keys were smaller. The Dell has a brighter  and definately runs a hell of a lot faster. This of course is due mostly because the 4 year difference between the builds. So if you are looking for a replacement for your ultra mobile laptop give the D430 a look! Leave some feeback on what you guys think.

UPDATE: The Dell D430 does accept 4GB SDHC cards, I am using one right now for Vista’s ReadyBoost! Hopefully I can see some minor performance and battery gains!

UPDATE: The Dell D430 does not work when a 2GB memory stick is in the dimm slot. I believe this can’t be fixed with a bios update because it will not even boot to the bios. I really hoped for 3GB in the D430, especially when running Vista. The Latitude XT tablet is heavily based of the D430 and I was hoping it would work.  Now I will attempt to run Windows 7 on the D430 which should fix all the Vista issues with the laptop.


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