Sure, the Dell Means Business event this morning was a bit of a snore, but amidst all the talk of backlit keyboards (egads!), four-times faster hard drive encryption, and cookware-inspired design, we spotted a rather attractive (perhaps even enticing) enterprise system -- the Dell Latitude E6220 laptop. According to Dell, this 12-inch thin-and-light is targeting "field workers" like us, so we wasted no time getting some hands-on time with it alongside our trusty 11-inch MacBook Air. Check out the gallery below, and read on for our first impressions.

Dell Latitude E6220 hands-on

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Despite being a pre-release unit without a battery installed, the E6220 felt solidly built. The screen lid is inlaid with brushed metal while the main body of the laptop is made of black plastic with a silver rim. The edges of the bottom cover are tapered in the front and sides, making the system look thinner than it actually is. The rear protrudes beyond the hinges and contains all the ports, just like the Adamo -- in fact, the styling reminds us of the XPS 14. On the left side you'll find smart card and SD card readers, as well as audio, eSATA / USB, and VGA connectors. On the right side there's an ExpressCard slot, wireless switch, two USB ports, and an HDMI connector. Power and Ethernet are located in back, with a docking interface on the bottom.

The 12-inch screen uses a matte finish and while we're not sure of the exact resolution, it's likely 1366 x 768 pixels. Quality seemed on par with LCD panels found in other modern laptops. There's a webcam above the display, flanked by a pair of microphones. We liked the full-size keyboard, which is backlit and features standard key travel. The trackpad works as expected, including two-finger scrolling, but the buttons felt a little too mushy. In addition to the trackpad, the palmrest incorporates an RFID reader and a fingerprint scanner.

Under the hood, you'll find an Intel Core i3 CPU with integrated graphics, your choice of hard drive or solid state storage, plus a plethora of wireless options (including 3G). Performance seemed adequate for a Core i3 laptop running Windows 7, despite a reported Windows Experience Index of 1.0 (which we suspect is inaccurate, since this was not final hardware). Our unit, which was equipped with a 2.1GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a hard drive, loaded Engadget and other websites without any drama. Dell was mum on pricing, availability, or battery life, but we expect the E6220 to be competitive in the enterprise market.

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