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Dell Latitude Z review


A truly innovative business laptop with hordes of interesting features, but its three-hour battery life is a disappointment

Review Date: 12 Feb 2010

Reviewed By: Tim Danton

Price when reviewed: £1,975 (£2,321 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

3 stars out of 6

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.

Dell Latitude Z

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.

Dell Latitude Z

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.

Dell Latitude Z

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.

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User comments

so wide why doesn't it have a full keyboard???

By nicomo on 12 Feb 2010

lol, you'd have understood if they'd needed the space for the battery

By felefant on 12 Feb 2010

Not fit for business

So a business laptop that's not fit for business user. Round of applause for Dell.

By treadmill on 13 Feb 2010

I love this sort of thing but can never understand why some laptops are so big, you are better of with a desktop.

By ive.

By ivonnaclick on 17 Feb 2010

For Executive posers only

Hard to imagine a company rolling out many of these. Far too fiddly to support with all the different bits. Separate ethernet plugin!! wait till that gets lost, the user will be whining, best to order a box full of spares.

By russv1 on 18 Feb 2010

Just a shame its a Dell

Sounds like an interesting bit of kit. Just a shame that you have to cross the minefield of Dell account management and "customer service" to get to it. I therefore shalln't be bothering

By projexe on 18 Feb 2010

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