Answer

Trying to decide on whether to buy a Latitude system or an Inspiron notebook?   Dell offers two types of notebooks to meet the educational needs of students.  Both Latitude and Inspiron offer Intel Pentium processors as well as many student-friendly features such as integrated modems, network interface cards (NIC), integrated wireless and DVD/CDRW combo drives. 

Why choose Latitude?

Latitude notebooks are designed for users who require a flexible, reliable and stable mobile system.   They are ideal for use in a highly-networked environment and for users who want standard and relevant technology at the lowest available price. 

Dell Latitude C-family systems (C840, C810, C640, C510 and C400) are also all designed to be compatible with one another.   This type of design allows you to leverage peripherals and components, meaning a CD-ROM for the C840 will also work with the C400. 

The new 2003 Dell Latitude D-family systems (D800, D600, D500) offer the latest technology while maintaining the same compatibility story of the C-series.  For instance, DVD-ROM drives and port replicators are interchangeable between D-series models.

Dell Latitude systems are also designed to provide you with the lowest possible total cost of ownership, meaning these systems are designed with the thought of providing longer technological lifecycles.  This means if you decide to upgrade your CD-ROM to a DVD/CDRW combo drive in a couple of years or if you want to add a docking station or port replicator to their system, Dell and the Latitude systems can help you do so.

Why choose Inspiron?

Inspiron notebooks were created to provide users with the latest notebook technologies with the most aggressive prices.   This means that Dell’s Inspiron systems are typically equipped with the latest and greatest technology (such as DVD/CDRW combo, Nvidia Graphics, etc.).  Inspiron systems are designed for use in stand-alone environments (not networked) and are the ideal system for multimedia and gaming programs. 

Because Inspiron systems often have the latest and “hottest” technologies, the system’s lifecycles are much shorter.   In addition, the Inspiron family does not provide the ability to leverage peripherals and components, meaning you can’t borrow your roommates’ Latitude DVD player or AC adapter if you left yours at home during fall break.   

Typically, users who choose Inspiron are high-end “techies” searching for the latest and greatest technology at the most affordable price. 

Need Assistance in Comparing Prices?

Be sure when you are comparing a system recommended by your school to one you see in an advertisement that you are comparing apples to apples.

There are a few key items that are typically not on aggressively advertised promotions that may be on your school configuration as follows:

  • Review the warranty information and ensure that it is right for you.   Typically your school will select a Next Business Day On-Site warranty, while promotional systems often offer a mail in or a return to depot service.
  • Review the standard software on the system.   Most schools recommend selecting a business class/professional operating system rather than the home edition.
  • Review any custom software loads or other components that are unique to your school.  Some schools may elect to add their custom software that enables your system to be compatible with the school network from day 1.
  • Review each item in the configurations you are reviewing to allow for an accurate comparison.