Review

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 review: A solid all-around business convertible

Dell's Latitude 7400 2-in-1 has all of the things that you'd expect from a premium business convertible, such as eighth-gen vPro processors, a 4G LTE option, and an aluminum build. It packs a 14-inch FHD display with pen support, narrow bezels, and more.

What's interesting about this device is that it includes a feature called ExpressSign-in. It uses proximity sensors to lock the PC when you walk away from it, and wake it when you come back. It then recognizes you with the IR camera, and logs you in without you ever having to touch it.

All-in-all, it's a solid all-around device, weighing in at under three pounds and about a third-inch thin at its thinnest point. Read on for our review.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-8665U 1.9GHz
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
Body 12.59x7.87x0.34-0.59in (319.77x199.9x8.53-14.89mm), 2.99 pounds
Display 14” 16:9 FHD (1920x1080) WVA Touch, Antireflective and Anti-Smudge, Corning Gorilla Glass 5, Super Low Power, 300 nits, Active Pen Support
Ports (2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(2) Thunderbolt 3
(1) HDMI 1.4
(1) microSD
(1) 3.5mm combo audio
Battery 6-Cell, 78 WHr Polymer, ExpressCharge capable, 90W USB Type-C adapter
RAM 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 2133MHz
Storage

M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 solid state drive

Windows Hello IR camera (facial recognition)
Material Aluminum
OS Windows 10 Pro
Price $2,802


Obviously, there are tons of configurations that you can get with this. You can add a fingerprint sensor in the power button, a Snapdragon X20 4G LTE modem, and up to a 1TB SSD. On the lower end side of things, it starts at $1,599, so this one is fairly specced out.

Day one

Design

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is an all-aluminum build with diamond-cut edges. The lid and sides have a brushed metal look, which frankly, is a business look. There's nothing that really stands out about the design; it's kind of bland, but not too bland. It's that typical business PC that looks nice, but it's not too flashy. This isn't going to catch anyone's eye at Starbucks.

Right in the middle of the lid is the chrome Dell logo, which is probably the flashiest part of the laptop. The two hinges are also chrome-colored.

On the left side of the device, you'll find two Thunderbolt 3 ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort support, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, and an HDMI 1.4 port. Sadly, HDMI 1.4 means that you can't use a 4K screen at 60Hz, so you'll need to use Thunderbolt 3 for that. USB 3.1 Gen 1 is good for 5Gbps, which is fine, although USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) would have been nice.

On the right side, there's another USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card slot. You might notice that there's something under the microSD slot; that's where you'd put a SIM card if you got the cellular option. Dell didn't send me a cellular model, something that always saddens me.

4G LTE in PCs is something that I always appreciate though, so I want to give Dell a shout-out here. It's not just gigabit 4G LTE that's being offered. With a Snapdragon X20, you can get 1.2Gbps download speeds. While public Wi-Fi networks are pretty common, they're not very secure, and they can also be a pain. No one wants to have to give Starbucks their email address, or find the Wi-Fi password in the airport lounge.

The bottom panel is easy enough to remove, with 10 Philips-head screws. Obviously, this will gain you access to the internals of the device.

Display and audio

The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 includes a 14-inch 1080p touchscreen, which is actually pretty good. The colors are vibrant but accurate, and it has a wide viewing angle. I couldn't find a solid spec on what the viewing angle is, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's a full 178 degrees.

The only issues are that it's very glossy and the brightness is only 300 nits, which might cause an issue outdoors. I found it to be usable in bright sunlight with the brightness turned all the way up (as you can see in images), but I've seen both better and worse in outdoor performance.

The screen has pen support, and Dell sent me the Dell Premium Active Pen (PN579X). Dell actually says that the pen has a multi-mode controller that allows it to support Microsoft Pen Protocol 1.51, Wacom AES 1.0, and Wacom AES 2.0. Unfortunately, that pen will cost you $99, as it's sold separately.

It's also worth noting that the screen has narrow bezels on all sides, making for an immersive viewing experience. In fact, as far as Dell PCs go, it's probably the best you can do while still including an IR camera for facial recognition. Naturally, smaller bezels mean a smaller footprint, and that means that the PC is more portable.

The audio quality on the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is pretty solid for a PC that has dual speakers below the keyboard. Unfortunately, that means that there's nothing actually firing up at you, at least while you're using it as a laptop. As a tablet, those speakers do fire at you, since the display is folded all the way back.

As far as clarity and accuracy goes, the audio quality is fantastic. The speakers get loud enough, although since they're on the bottom, it's possible to block them if you're using the device on your lap. I'd really have liked speakers above the keyboard though, just to complete the experience.

Keyboard and trackpad

This PC has a standard chiclet-style keyboard, and again, I've seen better and I've seen worse. One thing that I really appreciated about it is that the keys are exceptionally sturdy, and they're accurate. Something about the resistance feels a bit off though. Typically, convertibles have shallower keyboards and more resistance, so that it feels like a full key press. That doesn't really seem to be the case here.

Like the title of this review says, and like many other aspects of this PC, the keyboard is solid. And I like using the word solid here because while there are few parts of the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 that actually stand out, there aren't any parts that actually let me down, and that's what's really important.

The bad news is that Dell's competitors are doing amazing things with keyboards these days in business laptops. Lenovo has its ThinkPads, which are renowned for their keyboards, and HP has recently upped its game in its EliteBook lineup. As I said, this keyboard is pretty good; it's just not as good as what competitors are offering.

The trackpad is made out of glass and uses Microsoft Precision drivers. That means that the performance is great and that it supports all of the gestures that you're used to. It makes use of most of the real estate that's provided by the chassis and not taken up by the keyboard, and it's super comfortable to use. I've actually noticed this before about Latitude machines, but the texture on their trackpads always feels good to use.

ExpressSign-in

ExpressSign-in is Dell's feature to allow you to sign into your PC without ever touching it. It's actually pretty cool and it works better than I expected it to. The idea is that it uses proximity sensors to tell when you leave the room and when you come back.

You can set the ExpressSign-in app to decide how long after you leave the PC should lock. The options are one, two, or three minutes. I'd recommend going for two or three minutes. I was just using it to listen to music one day and the music shut off while I went to the bathroom, and that was while it was set for one minute. Of course, it all depends on your situation.

Once you return to your PC, it automatically wakes up, and then activates the IR cameras, recognizing you and logging you in. Dell's IR camera works well here, and I want to point that out because I've used so many PCs where the IR camera doesn't work well at all. Some third-party PCs (meaning not Microsoft's Surfaces) have this issue where it takes too long for IR cameras to start up, or it's hard to train them properly. This one works great, because if it took 10 or 20 seconds to start up the IR camera (yes, I have seen 20 seconds), ExpressSign-in would be useless.

It's only supported when using the device in clamshell and stand modes. More specifically, when the display is folded between 60 and 150 degrees, or between 210 and 300 degrees. You won't be able to use it in tablet or tent modes. Also, the only way to launch Dell ExpressSign-in is through the Power settings on your PC, oddly enough. I had a hard enough time finding it.

It's also worth noting that the proximity sensors can't actually see who you are. That means that if anyone sits in front of your PC, it will wake up. They just won't be able to log in with facial recognition.

Performance and battery

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 that was sent to me includes an Intel Core i7-8665U, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It's the ultrabook/convertible specs that you'd want to get the job done.

The Core i7-8665U is Intel's vPro CPU from the Whiskey Lake family. If you're unfamiliar with Whiskey Lake, it's sort of like the second-generation eighth-generation family. It has four cores, eight threads, and a 15W TDP, just like you'd expect in an ultrabook or convertible.

It gets the job done, and it can easily do anything that you use an ultrabook for. What I mean by that is that this isn't your primary gaming or video editing machine, although it can handle some light workloads of either one.

But really, you'll want to use this for productivity. If your work relies on having a couple dozen tabs open, along with other apps like Microsoft Office, OneNote, Skype, Slack, and so on, you're good to go here. You can use some Adobe CC apps on the regular like Photoshop and Acrobat, but don't spend too much time in Premiere Pro. Again, this is the standard performance that you'd expect from an ultrabook with a U-series CPU and integrated graphics.

Battery life is pretty good, lasting through a good six hours on normal usage. Dell sent me the big battery though, which is 78WHr. The standard one is 52WHr, which obviously wouldn't be as good. They both support fast charging though (it's optional on the 52WHr battery), which is called ExpressCharge. The company sent me a 90W USB Type-C charger with this unit, which is what you'd need for fast charging.

For benchmarks, I ran PCMark 8 and PCMark 10. PCMark 8 has three tests: Home, Creative, and Work, while PCMark 10 has an all-in-one test.

PCMark 8: Home PCMark 8: Creative

PCMark 8: Work PCMark 10


The tests are right where you'd expect them to be for a device with a U-series CPU, integrated graphics, and a 1080p display. You might want to take a look at the productivity-focused Work test, which beat 91% of other results.

Conclusion

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is a solid business laptop, and again, solid is the key word here. It just doesn't disappoint in any area. It has great performance, decent battery life, a good keyboard, and a comfortable trackpad.

I really only have three complaints, although none of them are major. One is that the pen doesn't come with the PC, adding $99 to the total cost. After all, it's a convertible. The second is that there aren't any front-facing speakers. The audio sounds good and it gets loud enough, but it could be better. And then, there's the bland design, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest for a business laptop. Well, the display could be brighter too, I guess, but I wouldn't complain much about it.

One thing that took me by surprise was ExpressSign-in. I've seen things like this before, and they're usually gimmicky, don't work well, and cost battery life. Dell's ExpressSign-in is surprisingly good, working accurately, quickly, and it doesn't seem to affect battery life in any meaningful way. And if it does, you get that 90W charger to boost it up pretty quickly.

The word here is that it's a solid all-around business PC. If you're looking for the best of any single feature, you can find a 4K display in plenty of places, but that will cost battery life and performance. There are better keyboards out there, but I really love the trackpad on this PC. Ultimately, Dell puts together a great overall package with the Latitude 7400 2-in-1.

 

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