We don’t review many laptops aimed at commercial buyers, but this particular one from Dell is a little special. We first saw the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 during CES this year, where it was billed as the world’s first PC to use Intel’s Context Sensing technology. What this means is that sensors in the display bezels can detect when you’re away from the laptop or in front of it, in order for it to lock itself or wake up automatically. It’s a cool trick, which worked well when we tried it at CES.
As the name suggests, this is a convertible so it can be used as a tablet. It also has an optional 4G SIM slot for LTE connectivity, and lots of enterprise-level features for security and remote management thanks to the vPro-enabled Intel CPU. All in all, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 looks like a good package, and it’s time to see how it performs.
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 design
The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is premium business laptop, which is very evident from the moment you take it out of its box. It doesn’t have a very large footprint, so it’s easy to carry around, and the weight of about 1.36kg means it’s not too heavy either. Most of the body and lid are made from machined aluminium, which feels very premium and well put-together. The edges and corners are rounded too, so it’s not uncomfortable in the hand.
Dell has gone with a drop hinge design, which keeps the bottom of the display close to the surface of the lower half and hides a bit of the bottom bezel. This, coupled with the slim bezels on the other three sides, give the appearance of a larger screen. The 14-inch full-HD (1920×1080) display has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a maximum brightness of 300nits. It’s also touch-enabled, since this is a convertible laptop, and there’s Gorilla Glass 5 to protect it against scratches. The hinge allows the display to rotate all the way back, so this laptop can be used as a tablet. There’s support for Dell’s Active Pen too, which is a Rs. 6,500 (plus GST) optional accessory.
The lid offers excellent reinforcement for the display with little to no flex and absolutely no pixel warping, even when we applied pressure. The base of the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is quite slim and houses all the ports. You get two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, one on either side of the laptop; two Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left which can be used to charge the laptop; a full-sized HDMI 1.4 port; a microSD card slot; a Micro-SIM tray for LTE connectivity; a Noble Wedge lock slot; SmartCard reader; and a headphone/microphone combo port. We would have preferred a full-sized SD card slot here instead of a microSD one. There’s also no Ethernet port, which is worth noting for a commercial laptop.
The keyboard area is a bit sunken so the keys are at the same level as the palm rest area. This prevents the keys from making a lot of contact with other surfaces when you’re using the laptop in tent or tablet mode. The keys themselves are a little smaller than usual, which took some getting used to. However, the travel is good and they aren’t noisy even with vigorous typing. The power button is located separately on the right and on our review unit, it had an integrated fingerprint sensor, which is an optional feature. The glass trackpad is large and works very well, thanks to Microsoft’s Precision drivers.
The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 has cutouts on the bottom for airflow, along with two separate ones for the stereo speakers. The base is held together by standard Philips screws placed around its the periphery, so it shouldn’t be too hard to access the internals.
Our test unit came with a 65W USB Type-C charging brick. The adapter is quite compact so it’s not a big problem to carry around.
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 specifications and software
Since this is a commercial laptop, typically an IT manager or an individual buyer would have to send Dell the exact configuration they require in order to get a price quote. However, Dell does sell a few predefined configurations of the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 as retail units on its website, and buyers can customise these to some extent or simply buy one as is. Unfortunately, LTE connectivity is not available even as an option on the pre-configured units, so you’ll have to special order one if you want the SIM slot.
The configuration that Dell sent us for review includes an Intel Core i7-8665U quad-core CPU, based on the 8th Gen ‘Whiskey Lake’ architecture. This also includes Intel’s vPro extensions, aimed at providing IT admins the tools needed to remotely push updates, run diagnostics, and manage security. This CPU is a 15W part, with a base clock of 1.9GHz and a maximum turbo frequency of 4.8GHz. Our unit was configured with 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM which is soldered on; integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620; and a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD. There’s also dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE modem.
Our version of the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 came with Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, along with Microsoft Office Professional 2019. Once again, the bundled software is configurable so you can opt for no Office suite or add a subscription to McAfee Small Business Security, based on your company’s needs. You also get a three-year basic onsite warranty as part of the package, or you can opt for one with a longer duration and ‘next business day’ service, by paying more.
The laptop also ships with a bunch of Dell utilities such as Power Manager, Support Assist, and Command Centre, which we’ve seen before on some of its other laptops. One tool that’s new is Express Sign-in. Once you’ve set up face recognition for Windows Hello in the Settings menu, you can simply flip a toggle switch to enable Express Sign-in. You can set a timer (up to 3 minutes) for when the laptop should lock after you move away. The laptop will wake up if it detects the presence of anyone in front of it, but will only unlock with your face. It works pretty seamlessly, and requires no manual intervention, which adds a bit of convenience.
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 performance and battery life
The Core i7 version of the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 that we reviewed ran very well. Boot times were quick thanks to the speedy SSD; the fingerprint sensor and face recognition worked very well; and Windows in general ran smoothly. We didn’t find the laptop too warm either when doing basic tasks. The screen’s touch response was good too, although this device isn’t the most comfortable to use as a tablet.
Windows Ink workspace lets you access some stylus-friendly apps, and more can be downloaded from the Windows Store. Dell sent us the optional stylus to try out. It’s powered by a single AAAA battery and has a flattened side which can snap onto either side of the laptop with the help of magnets. The pressure-sensitive tip is ideal for sketching, and the latency is very low, which makes it feel like you’re using an actual pen.
The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is great for productivity. The keyboard is very comfortable for typing on for long stretches at a time, once you get used to the slightly smaller keys. There are two levels of backlighting. The glass trackpad works very well for using the mouse pointer and gestures. The display’s brightness is more than adequate, and colours are vivid and lively.
Besides work, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 does a decent job with media playback too. High-resolution videos looked good, images appeared sharp, and colours were mostly on point. There’s WavesAudio Pro software for sound tuning. The stereo speakers get decently loud and sound alright for personal listening.
Cellular connectivity worked very well in our experience. We popped in an Airtel 4G SIM card, which Windows automatically detected and configured. A little ‘Cellular’ toggle switch in Windows’ notification area lets you manage the connection. In terms of privacy features, the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 doesn’t have a shutter to physically cover the webcam or the SafeScreen privacy feature for the display which severely restricts viewing angles. Some of Dell’s other models do offer these features,and Dell has informed Gadgets 360 that they should be added to the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 as options in the near future.
Speaking of the webcam, the camera produces good quality videos even indoors. It’s ‘Skype for Business’ certified and is accompanied by two microphones for better audio.
We ran our suite of benchmarks on the Latitude 7400 2-in-1, which returned decent results. Starting with CPU tests, Cinebench R20 returned single and multi-core scores of 419 and 1,336 respectively, while the POVRay benchmark took 3 minutes, 29 seconds to render a ray-traced scene. Coming to benchmarks that test the system as a whole, we got 3,889 points in PCMark 10 and 5,802 points in 3DMark’s Night Raid test for integrated graphics. Real-world tests showed promise too. It took about 4 minutes, 4 seconds to finish compressing a 3.2GB folder of assorted files; 1 minute, 44 seconds to encode a 1080p AVI file to 720p H.265; and 14 minutes, 22 seconds to finish the BMW test render in Blender.
The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is rated to deliver more than a day’s worth of battery life, but this claim is for the Core i5 version with a 78WHr battery, as pointed out by Dell itself. All the pre-configured models in India ship with 52WHr batteries. Our review unit, with its Core i7 processor, didn’t get anywhere close to Dell’s claim. With Wi-Fi enabled, the brightness set to 50 percent with the keyboard backlight at its lower level, and the Windows power mode set to ‘Better battery,’ we were able to get around 10-11 hours of near-non-stop usage. This typically involved working within Chrome and watching videos on YouTube.
If you’re not using demanding apps then you should be able to get through an entire workday or even a long flight without needing to charge this laptop. When using cellular connectivity for similar work, we noticed a slight reduction in battery life. The Battery Eater Pro benchmark ran for 2 hours and 8 minutes, which is a little less than what we expected.
Dell’s Power Manager utility is worth mentioning here, as it has some neat features when it comes to charging the battery. Besides being able to set different power profiles, there’s a feature called ‘Peak Shift’ which lets you specify time slots for when the laptop will charge, use battery power, or simply use power from the mains without charging the battery. This can be set for each day of the week, depending on your work schedule.
The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 doesn’t come cheap. At the time of this review, prices start at around Rs. 1,35,000 (with taxes) for the Core i5 model, and go up to about Rs. 1,63,000 for the top-end pre-configured model. If you were to custom-order one of these, the price would vary depending on the configuration and services you opt for.
Dell tells us that the model we received should cost around Rs. 1,45,000 (plus GST) but this exact configuration, with the 4G SIM slot, isn’t one of the pre-configured models on sale on Dell’s website. You’ll have to place an order for it, only after which you’ll get a quote for the final price. The number of units you order could also affect the final price.
The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is a well-built laptop that looks and feels very premium. It offers good battery life, even with a Core i7 CPU. It has a vivid display and a very comfortable keyboard, and delivers good overall performance. The proximity sensing feature is pretty cool too.
There are a few things we would have liked done differently. A full-sized SD card slot instead of a microSD one would have been more useful, and a volume rocker and even a power button on the side, would have made for a more comfortable tablet experience. The HP Spectre x360 13 (Review), which we recently reviewed, had similar shortcomings, but it did offer privacy features for the webcam and display, which are yet to arrive on the Latitude 7400 2-in-1.