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August 7, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Dell Latitude USB ports

DellIschai Cohen writes in:

I recently got a new Dell Latitude laptop.

It has two USB ports on the right side, but you can't put two USB plugs in at the same time because the plastic covering is too thick.


The usb hub manufacturers must have paid them off.

Fix TIB! Support IE!

Posted by: gmangw at August 7, 2006 12:14 AM

My older Inspiron is like that too. It's a tight fit, especially for 2 flash drives.

Posted by: Entropic Decay at August 7, 2006 12:59 AM

Apparently there's a difference between "feature" and "usable feature"?

Posted by: Nutsy at August 7, 2006 01:14 AM

I was never a big fan of Dell, that is definitely poor design. Just wait until the battery explodes, then it becomes "This broken thing breaks other things."

Posted by: klew at August 7, 2006 02:47 AM

Could it be tahat those usb cables are "extra thick". I have a laptop with 4 usb ports on the side, and occassionally I'll run into a plug that the handle of is too thick, and won't fit in with the other 3.

@gmangw I browed the site with IE and everything seems fine. What's so broken about the IE support on this site?

Posted by: Joshua Wood at August 7, 2006 07:21 AM

Actually, that connector is for the external drive bay USB power (it's a double connector). The USB connections you sould use first are on the back of the PC.

If you would RTM.... :O)


Posted by: Mark0 at August 7, 2006 10:32 AM

As Mark0 points out, the upper connector is not an USB port. You could use the bottom as any other USB connector.

If you manage to get an USB device in the upper then either the USB device or the power connector is what's broken...

Posted by: haqwin at August 7, 2006 10:35 AM

I've been wondering what the brouhaha over IE is all about (I use Firefox), so I fired up IE to post this...without any problems whatsoever.

So what exactly isn't supported about IE?

Posted by: Erich at August 7, 2006 12:18 PM

Isn't it obvious? The site is This Is Broken ... so obviously gmangw's internet explorer IS Broken

Posted by: Gerrard Iaroos at August 7, 2006 12:26 PM

I have this exact model as my work computer. I have absolutely no problem plugging two USB devices into the side ports. I do it every day when I'm at the office.

BTW, Mark0 is incorrect, at least on some Latitude models: both ports are standard USB connections. I routinely run a mouse and a Palm synch cable through those two ports.

Posted by: Steve J at August 7, 2006 01:30 PM

that's weird, what IE's do you guys have? I still can't log in with it on any computer here.

Posted by: gmangw at August 7, 2006 01:45 PM

I can't tell for sure which model Latitude that is, but it appears to be a D600 series, at any rate, there ARE 2 USB ports on the right side. The ports Mark0 is talking about are usually seen on the D400 series, and they are on the left side. He is right that they are for the special external drive adaptor, but that isn't the case in the 600 series... and yes, I am a computer tech, who works on these model laptops every day. I just went and double checked the ports on them before posting.

As for its broken-ness;

I would agree that it is semi-broken. There are also 2 more USB ports on the back of the laptop, both of which can be readily used, and as another poster mentioned, the thickness of the connector end of the USB cable itself is often the problem.

The ports on the side are too close together in general, but their usablilty is also affected by the USB device you are plugging in. That, and the 2 other ports on the back, only make this semi-broken to me.

Posted by: Memnon at August 7, 2006 05:19 PM

I tried to install IE to see what the fuss is about, but I cannot find the package listed in Synaptic.

Posted by: ebob at August 7, 2006 06:54 PM

> I tried to install IE to see what the fuss is about,

> but I cannot find the package listed in Synaptic.

It's only available as an RPM. Use Alien.

Posted by: Simon at August 7, 2006 07:06 PM

I can't sign in while using IE, either, but I use Firefox 99% of the time anyway, so this is not a problem.

Maybe only older version of IE aren't supported?

Posted by: Alcas at August 7, 2006 08:24 PM

Sorry, I meant to say "older versions."

Posted by: Alcas at August 7, 2006 08:25 PM

@ Mark0 : A power connector? In what way? It is certainly logical that it would be designed to have 2 perfectly functional USB connetors there, as it is more convenient than the ones on the back. (Have you ever tried to plug in a flash drive in the back as the unit is on your lap?)

As to the poor design of Dell, I am right there with you.

Problems with my 2002 Dell Dimension 8400 :

The front USB ports are very close together.

Also, they are installed upside-down, a minor inconvenience.

The front USB are USB 1.1, and therefore not a good place for my flash drive.

With the screwless drive racks, the extra floppy bay is unable to hold a hard drive or fan controller.


Let that be a lesson to you: Always build custom PCs

Posted by: freedomlinux at August 7, 2006 09:33 PM

@Joshua Wood:

with IE you can browse TIB but not post comments. TIBIB!

@everyone else: get firefox!

Posted by: Sean at August 9, 2006 06:00 AM

I currently use the model preceding this one (Latitude D610, this one is the 620), and I have noticed that when I setup a 620 about a week ago that the USB ports over there were different than they were in the 610, in that they were more compact and more difficult to put two of any USB connector into those. However, I'd call that bottom black connector more broken than the ports themsevles, as that thing looks like it's pretty large on the high side in comparison to what I'm used to for USB connectors.

PS: I usually use those on the 610 constantly for a USB stick and mouse, but I did buy a multi-port adapter for those ports because of this issue.

Posted by: bradleyjx at August 9, 2006 03:42 PM

That's Really Sad, or just plain Crappy Design on everyones part...

Posted by: Keith L. Dick at August 10, 2006 01:26 AM

The side ports on his laptop sure look like the USB/DBAY ports I have on my Inspiron dock:

The stacked USB ports I have on the rear of my laptop are fine:

Notice that on the USB/DBAY ports there is no separation show between the two ports like the picture of the unfortunate laptop here. The two USB ports have a plastic gap between them not like the picture. Sorry :/

Posted by: Dave Reid at August 10, 2006 03:09 AM

Yep, those look like those Powered USB ports that are on modern computers. The standard supports from 5V (30W, 6A) to 24V (144W, 6A). They had to make the standard because people started using USB ports as power plugs for various devices, and that wasn't enough because of the 500mA limit, so they designed this.

Visit for more details.


Some computers have the powered port, some don't - ALL USB-only ports have some type of spacing between the slots.

Posted by: Trent Chernecki at August 10, 2006 05:16 AM

(I'm replying to the post by Dave Reid, not the original topic. And I just realized this is on Digg too.)

Posted by: Trent Chernecki at August 10, 2006 05:20 AM

I have had countless problems with Dell's disigns in the past years like Front mount USB ports being 1.1 (what's the point then since most of what you plug in the front of a desktop would be to transfer files?). My most recent problem with them was two days ago. I had to restore a client's desktop with the restore ***DVD's*** that came with her computer but I couldn't boot off them. I looked at the drives to make sure Dell wasn't stupid enough to have a primary drive that can't read DVD's...but they were. There was nothing I could change in BIOS to make it boot off of the secondary drive, so I had to switch the drive placement before I could restore the machine. Dell has problems...

Posted by: DigiSiah at August 10, 2006 09:56 AM

No problem here. Must be a nut loose on your keyboard.

Posted by: mrneko at August 10, 2006 09:58 AM

I've had similar problems with USB ports with a Dell tower PC (Optiplex GX280).

I've blogged about it on

Posted by: iQ Content at August 10, 2006 03:06 PM

it is plain broken, Dell once again obsession with shorter time to market keep producing crap, that does not work.

Posted by: Gordonii at September 11, 2006 04:59 PM


I own a Dell Dimesion 4600 and the front USB ports are USB 2.0, Perfect for flash drives, I'm not saying that Dell did not mess up your product, but I am very pleased with mine.

Posted by: Shadow at September 28, 2006 09:40 PM

Haven read the posts posted. But you should know that almost all laptops made are made in Taiwan. Sony, Dell and others all source their laptops from Taiwan. The "Made In" stickers only indicate where the casing was made.

Posted by: Zeus at October 1, 2006 04:51 PM

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