Dell Latitude Z review
A truly innovative business laptop with hordes of interesting features, but its three-hour battery life is a disappointment
The Dell Latitude Z is possibly the strangest laptop we’ve ever reviewed. It’s as if Dell has taken all the conventional rules of building a business notebook, cut them up into tiny pieces and reassembled them to form this: an ultra-wide, ultra-thin, ultra-odd laptop.
The result is certainly striking. The Latitude Z’s chassis stretches all of 396mm wide, a good 50mm wider than a normal laptop. Meanwhile, the rear of the Z extends by an extra 25mm to accommodate the battery: there’s no room in the main body (measuring less than a centimetre thick) for even the four-cell, 2,620mAh unit Dell supplies as standard.
It's a weird shape too, with that jutting battery set off by a couple of angled brackets. Yet the Latitude Z still manages to look executive, a look that stems from a strip of brushed aluminium bordering the main body, and the sober, dark grey tones everywhere else. Apart, that is, from the soft-touch lid with its dark, maroon hue.
The little things
A multitude of neat touches abound elsewhere. The most headline grabbing is the touch-sensitive strip found to the right of the screen: slide your finger up or down and the page you’re currently looking at moves with you.
Press the button just to the right of the screen and a list of shortcuts appear, and you can adapt these to whatever you like – from launching your favourite programs to playing back media. The trackpad is multitouch-enabled too, so you can pinch, zoom, rotate and scroll to your heart’s content.
More subtly, there’s a contact-free smartcard reader sitting to the right of the trackpad. Press your RFID-equipped smartcard against this and, along with the fingerprint reader to the side, you’ll have two extra layers of security to go above and beyond the usual Windows password.
The wires-free approach even extends to the optional charging station. For an extra £162 exc VAT this lets you slip the Latitude on and, by the miracle of inductive technology, the Z will start to charge. Be warned, though, it’s huge.
In our view, it’s also an utter waste of money. Of much more use is the (again optional) wireless docking station. This uses UWB (ultra-wideband) technology to not only add an extra four USB ports to the two that sit on the Latitude Z itself, but also to provide headphone and microphone sockets, plus a DVI output. The latter takes advantage of Displaylink technology to extend or mirror the Windows desktop onto an external monitor.
The only annoyance is the lack of an Ethernet connection, so if you want to use a wired connection in the office rather than the wireless you’ll need to plug it in each time. A tiresome oversight.
|Price ex VAT||£1,975|
|Price inc VAT||£2,321|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||3|
|Warranty||3yr on-site next business day|
|Dimensions||396 x 272 x 20.1mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel GS45|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,600|
|Resolution screen vertical||900|
|Resolution||1600 x 900|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMAX4500MHD|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk usable capacity||238GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk||Samsung SSD PB22-JS3 TM|
|Optical disc technology||External DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||yes|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||0|
|SD card reader||no|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||no|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Intel HD Audio|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||2.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 53min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 35min|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.85|
|Office application benchmark score||0.87|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||0.97|
|Encoding application benchmark score||0.75|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||0.79|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||N/A|
|3D performance setting||N/A|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|