Dell is attempting to increase its focus on the enterprise in order to counter falling sales of PCs in the consumer market, and its Latitude range of laptops is a key part of that strategy. This latest addition to the Latitude range doesn’t have the eye-catching gimmicks of convertible devices such as Dell’s XPS 12, but the Latitude 14 7000 is an attractive Ultrabook that provides the features and performance that business users require in a straightforward and efficient manner.
Built To Last
There are a number of configurations available for the Latitude 14 7000, with prices ranging from £849 (ex. VAT) to £1,240 (ex. VAT). There’s a variety of OS options available, including Windows 7, Windows 8 and Ubuntu Linux. However, all four models share the same basic design with an attractive 14-inch display and lightweight, slimline design.
Build quality is excellent, as the laptop’s aluminium casing is underpinned by a rigid metal framework, and the entire unit is designed to meet United States Military Standard 810G, which specifies standards for resistance to heat, altitude, moisture and vibration. The display is also coated with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, so the Latitude 14 7000 is well suited to life on the road.
Despite the sturdy design the Latitude 14 7000 manages to be slim, smart and highly portable. The laptop measures just 21mm thick when folded flat, and weighs 1.63kg, so you can easily pick it up with one hand or carry it around in a briefcase with no trouble at all.
Dell also pays good attention to detail. The matte-black ‘soft touch’ finish applied to the outer casing gives the Latitude 14 7000 a smart look and feel, and it includes a firm, comfortable keyboard along with both a trackpad and a separate pointer. A simple switch on the base of the unit allows you to pop out the battery pack, and there’s a handy switch on the right-hand edge that allows you to instantly turn off the Wi-Fi and mobile broadband and enter AirPlane Mode.
Audio & Video
The entry-level model in the 7000 Series costs £849 (ex. VAT), but the screen on this model only provides a resolution of 1366×768 and no touch-controls. However, our review unit was priced at £1,139 (ex. VAT) and steps up to full 1920×1080 resolution as well as providing touch-sensitivity for the tiled interface of Windows 8.1 Pro.
The more expensive display is a worthwhile investment, as it produces a bright, sharp and colourful image with good viewing angles that make the Latitude 14 7000 an excellent choice for business presentations, Web browsing, or simply viewing some streaming video when you’re off-duty.
Even the speakers are above average, producing a full sound with attractively firm bass response. It’ll certainly allow you to play presentations without needing to plug in external speakers, as well as letting you listen to some music in your hotel room.
Our only minor complaint here is that the Gorilla Glass coating is very glossy and throws off quite a lot of glare and reflection in bright sunlight or overhead lighting. And, of course, there’s no room for a DVD drive in the slimline case, so you’ll need to provide an external drive if you want to install software from optical media or archive old work files.
Performance is good too, with our review unit including Windows 8.1 Pro powered by a dual-core Haswell i5-4300U processor running at 1.9GHz (2.9GHz with Intel’s Turboboost option) along with 4GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive.
That’s a very respectable mid-range specification, and while the Latitude 14 7000 isn’t in the same league as Dell’s Precision range of workstation laptops, it will be more than adequate for running Microsoft Office and a spot of photo- or video-editing for presentations work. Most of the models in the 7000 Series use the same i5 processor, but if you need even higher performance then there’s one top-of-the-range model that provides an i7 processor and 8GB of memory for £1,240 (ex. VAT).
Many Ultrabooks suffer from poor connectivity, sacrificing features such as Ethernet ports in order to keep their size and weight down. However, the Latitude 14 7000 provides an impressive range of connectivity options, including Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks, three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces for connecting to large-screen displays, and Intel’s WiDi for wireless video streaming.
And, in addition to the built-in Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, the Latitude 14 7000 includes Dell’s own NetReady mobile broadband service. Here in the UK, the NetReady service is set up in conjunction with the O2 mobile network, so the laptop includes an O2 SIM as standard and you can then use Dell’s NetReady app to connect to the mobile network and select the 3G or 4G tariff that you require. The SIM slot is easily accessible, though, tucked just under the battery pack, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to insert your own SIM if you prefer.
One disadvantage of the Latitude’s slimline design is that there’s only room for a relatively modest 47Whr battery pack. Dell doesn’t quote a figure for battery life, but the Latitude 14 7000 managed to last for 6 hours and 15 minutes when using its built-in Wi-Fi to stream video from BBC’s iPlayer. That’s a respectable result, and you should certainly be able to stretch that to 7 hours if you’re not using the Wi-Fi all day long. However, there are now numerous Haswell laptops that can provide 8-10 hours of battery life, so there’s room for improvement there.
Still, you can buy a spare battery for £99.99 (ex. VAT), and it’s small and light enough to carry with you if you think that you’re likely to need it. Dell also provides a variety of docking accessories for the Latitude 14 7000, as well as a number of extended warranty and support options in addition to the basic three-year NBD warranty.
There are less expensive laptops available that can provide comparable performance. However, the strength of the Latitude 14 7000 is that it manages to combine good performance and multimedia features with an attractive and highly portable Ultrabook design. Battery life could be improved a little, but the Latitude 14 7000 will make an excellent workhorse for business users who need to give presentations to clients or colleagues when they’re on the road.