Dell Latitude E7440 review

Pros

  • Decent performance for an Ultrabook
  • Full HD touchscreen
  • 256GB SSD
  • Good value for a corporate notebook

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Only 4GB RAM as standard

The E7440 is the 14in model from the new Dell Latitude 7000 series, launched alongside the 12.5in E7240. Dell is actually still calling the E7440 an Ultrabook, although the chassis is a little large and heavy compared to the 13in versions of the genre. The 1.63kg weight is half a kilo heavier than some, although this is still a decidedly portable notebook.

The E7440 is quite similar in specification to the Toshiba Tecra Z40-A-11U. Our E7440 was based around an Intel Core i5-4300U, although an i7-4600U is also an option, adding £303 plus VAT to the price. The 4300U runs at a nominal 1.9GHz, but Turbo Boost means a single core can increase to 2.9GHz when required, and an 11.5W low power mode is also available, where the processor runs at 800MHz. Hyper-Threading is on hand as usual, turning the two physical cores into four virtual ones for improved multi-tasking performance.

This is backed by a mere 4GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM, which can be upgraded to 8GB. But this isn't a user upgrade, and unfortunately Dell only offers 8GB of RAM with the premium Core i7 version of the E7440, which as mentioned above is £303 extra. The Intel processor supplies the graphics, as well, in the shape of HD Graphics 4400. This is a mild improvement over the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that was integrated into the previous Ivy Bridge processor generation, thanks to a 25 per cent greater number of shading units. However, the effects won't be hugely noticeable, and 3D acceleration isn't an important aspect of a business-oriented Ultrabook anyway.

Dell offers two storage options with the E7440. Our model came with a 256GB LiteOn LMT-256M6M solid state disk, but the cheapest model has a 500GB hard disk instead, to reduce the cost. There are two screen options with the E7440, too. Our sample came with the 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, but there's also a more pedestrian 1,366 x 768 non-touch alternative if you want a cheaper system. Allied with the hard disk option described above, this shaves £300 off the price of the system.

Strangely, the top model with a Core i7 processor incorporates a non-touch 1,920 x 1,080 display. We've not been too convinced by the inclusion of touchscreens with non-hybrid notebooks anyway, but it's still strange to lose this on the higher-end model. The screen in our E7440 sample was generally impressive. Viewing angles are good in every direction, although better horizontally than vertically. The glossy finish does pick up reflections in bright lighting, but not as badly as some. Overall, it's an impressive, detailed display with rich colour.

The E7440 has an even more sober appearance than the Toshiba Tecra Z40-A-11U, with the whole system dark grey in colour, although the lid has a stylish carbon fibre finish. The keyboard is very pleasant indeed. The keys are full-sized, and the action plots a happy medium ground between stiffness and smoothness, giving you just about the right amount of feedback for a comfortable touch-typing experience.

The trackpad is reasonably sized, and has large, comfortable discrete buttons at the bottom. It's also placed precisely below the spacebar, which will minimise accidental activity. The E7440 also gives away its corporate focus by offering a trackpoint as well, situated in the usual position between the g, h and b buttons. This has its own extra set of buttons directly beneath the spacebar. Then, of course, there's the touchscreen as a third pointing device option.

The E7440 takes a slightly unusual approach to connectivity compared to most Ultrabooks. The majority of ports can be found round the back, and only the SD card reader is located on the left. The rear is home to the power connection, HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, Micro DisplayPort, and LAN, whilst the right only offers the combined headphone and microphone socket, alongside a third USB 3.0 port and a switch to turn Wi-Fi off and on, which is always handy if you fly frequently. The one thing missing is VGA, although this is only really useful these days if you have a legacy projector or screen you need to connect to.

The E7440 also includes a full complement of wireless options. There's a dual-band Wireless-AC 7260 chipset, which includes dual-aerial 802.11ac networking as well as support for 802.11a/b/g/n. Bluetooth 4.0 is also included. Mobile broadband is built in too, with a SIM slot beneath the battery. However, only the Dell 5570 chipset is provided on this model, so there's support for HSPA+, rather than the 4G LTE that comes with the premium Core i7 model.

With an identical processor and RAM complement, the E7440 has a very similar performance to the Toshiba Tecra Z40-A-11U. The result in the Maxon Cinebench R11.5 render test is an almost identical 2.79, and the OpenGL result of 15.15 is also virtually the same. Whilst the rendering score is respectable, the OpenGL result is rather mediocre, and this is mirrored in the 830 obtained in Futuremark 3DMark11 and 509 in 3DMark's Firestrike 1.1 test, which are also in the same ballpark as the Tecra. More important is the result in the PC Mark 8 application-based testing. The E7440 achieved a result of 2,309 in the Home test, and 3,444 in the Work test, which are again in the same ballpark as the Tecra, and good for an Ultrabook.

Battery life isn't quite as impressive as the Tecra, however. In Dell's own recommended mode, the E7440 only lasted a measly 181 minutes of the PC Mark 8 Home test, although this clearly didn't entail any significant drop in processor power compared to the maximum, as the performance score remained a similar 2,278 compared to when we ran the test on the mains. So we switched to an alternate Maximum Battery Life option and the time lifted to a more respectable 263 minutes, whilst the performance score dropped to 1,608. This is still more than a couple of hours behind the Tecra, though, even if it is a respectable duration for an Ultrabook. Fortunately, the battery is also removable, so you can bring a replacement if time away from the power socket is important, or if the original unit deteriorates with age.

Verdict

The Dell Latitude E7440 is a serious corporate contender. Although there is no smart card or fingerprint reader, the higher resolution screen and larger SSD give it the edge over Toshiba's Tecra Z40-A-11U in sheer value terms. However, the considerably inferior battery life puts it behind the Tecra as an out-and-out road warrior, even if the battery is removable. So if time away from the power socket is an important concern, the Tecra will still be the better solution, even if it is noticeably more expensive and less well-featured in other areas.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Dell Latitude E7440

Processor

1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U

RAM

4GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM

Graphics

Intel HD 4400

Storage

256GB LiteOn LMT-256M6M solid state disk

Optical disc

None

Display

14in Anti-Glare LED backlit touch TFT with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Networking

Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, HSPA+

Interfaces

3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Micro DisplayPort, combo headphone/microphone, SD card reader

Width x Depth x Height

337 x 231.5 x 21mm

Weight

1.63kg

Warranty

3 years NBD