A laptop for business should last as long as the workday, which makes extended, swappable batteries invaluable. The $1,024 Dell Latitude 14 3470 (starting at $449) has an option for a six-cell battery that extends the battery life past 10 hours while its Intel Core i7 processor delivers solid performance. Unfortunately, the laptop is saddled with a stiff keyboard and dull display, which detract from its usability.
The Dell Latitude 14 3470 has an utterly forgettable design: a big black plastic rectangle. It's just boring. The lid features Dell's logo in black, but it's otherwise unadorned. When you open the notebook, you'll find the touchpad, island-style keyboard and a 1920 x 1080-pixel display.
The notebook is 13.5 x 9.6 x 0.9 inches, but it's on the heavy side at 4.4 pounds. The Lenovo ThinkPad T460 is slightly smaller at 13.3 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches and 3.8 pounds (4.2 pounds when you add an extended battery). The 3.97-pound Toshiba Tecra C40 is 13.4 x 9.6 x 0.9 inches, and the 3.4-pound HP EliteBook 745 is a slimmer 13.3 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches.
Our review configuration included an extended battery that juts out of the bottom of the notebook, bringing its height to 1.7 inches. A slight slant isn't a problem, but this amount of tilt made me consider breaking out a protractor. The ThinkPad T460's extended battery does a better job in this department: It's wider but shorter, and adds less than half an inch to the laptop's height.
The sides of the Latitude 14 3470 are packed with ports for expandability.
The left side is home to the power port, Ethernet jack, HDMI output, two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone/mic combination jack. An SD card slot, USB 2.0 port, VGA output and security lock slot are located on the right side.
Security and Durability
Dell claims that the Latitude 14 has gone through MIL-STD-810G testing, which means it should stand up to shocks, vibrations and extreme temperatures.
As far as security, the notebook includes the Trusted Platform Module standard to protect sensitive data, an optional fingerprint reader ($14) and optional encryption software ($20 for a one-year personal license). If you're looking for vPro remote management, you're out of luck, as no configuration of the Latitude 14 3470 currently has a processor that supports the feature. However, the Latitude 14 7000 series does support vPro.
The Latitude 14's 1920 x 1080p screen is duller than a used pencil. When I watched the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I was disappointed by imprecise hues and a lack of detail. The Rebel pilots' orange jumpsuits were several shades too dark, and an AT-AT's red lasers looked a little too pink.
The Dell's display covers only 61.5 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is far lower than the category average of 81 percent. The ThinkPad T460 (67 percent) and Tecra C40 (68 percent) were also below the average, while the EliteBook 745 delivered a superior 84 percent.
The colors on the Latitude 14 3470's screen are not only dull, but also inaccurate. It has a Delta-E score of 3.76 (the closer to zero, the better). The ThinkPad T460's display is very accurate at just 0.5, but the Tecra C40 and EliteBook 745 are even less precise, with marks of 5.1 and 4.4, respectively.
You'll probably want to max out the brightness setting on the Latitude 14, as it measured just 226 nits on our light meter -- less than the category average of 249 nits. The Tecra C40 (205 nits) is dimmer, but the ThinkPad T460 (239 nits) is slightly brighter, and the EliteBook 745 (317 nits) is more luminous.
The speakers on the Latitude 14 3470 are a mixed bag that varies greatly, based on where you keep the laptop and how you use Dell's audio program. I listened to Yellowcard's "Lift a Sail" and found that while the vocals overpowered the instruments, there was a decent amount of bass. When I moved the laptop from a table to my lap, everything sounded muffled.
In the Dell Audio app, I switched from the default MaxxSense setting to the Music preset, which resulted in a much better balance of vocals and instruments. It did, however, weaken the bass a bit in the process.
I took a photo of myself with the laptop's 720p webcam.
The result was a sharp, accurate photo that picked up details, like the buttons on a phone behind me, and the exact shades of blue, orange and gray on my shirt. The only downside is that the lights were a bit blown out.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The relatively stiff and shallow keyboard on the Latitude 14 made typing a tiring activity. The keys have a fairly shallow travel of 1.25 millimeters and require 60 grams of actuation to press.
While other laptops with this level of travel have felt good, I continually bottomed out on this layout, and I found myself frequently taking small breaks to rest my hands. I typed at 108 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is about average for me, but my error rate tripled from 2 percent to 6 percent.
The 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad is perfectly functional, but it produced more friction than I like as my fingers dragged against it. Still, I was able to navigate, scroll and use gestures without any issues.
Performance and Graphics
With its 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD and Nvidia GeForce 920M GPU with 2GB of VRAM, our review configuration of the Latitude 14 is primed for productivity. When I typed in OpenOffice Writer and browsed the web in Chrome, I didn't experience any slowdown until the browser had 13 tabs open (one of which was streaming a 1080p episode of Last Week Tonight).
On Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark test measuring overall performance, the Latitude 14 earned a score of 6,446. That's slightly higher than the thin-and-light category average of 6,403. The Intel Core i5-6300U-powered ThinkPad T460 conquered the competition at 6,708, while the Tecra C40's score of 5,738 (with its Core i5-6200) and EliteBook 745's 5,494 (with the AMD Pro A8-8600B) both fell short.
The SSD in the Latitude 14 isn't very fast. It copied 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 53 seconds, a transfer rate of 94.9 megabytes per second. The average 14-inch notebook hits 123.27 MBps. The EliteBook 745 (124.1 MBps) and ThinkPad T460 (175.5 MBps) had far faster SSDs, while the Tecra C40's 7,200-rpm hard drive (26.9 MBps) was significantly slower.
The Latitude 14 was competitive in our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro; it paired 20,000 names and numbers in 4 minutes and 3 seconds. That's faster than the category average of 5:59 as well as all of its rivals. The EliteBook was far slower at 6:36, while the ThinkPad and Tecra C40 were only slightly behind at 4:13 and 4:29, respectively.
The Latitude 14 has a discrete graphics card (the Nvidia GeForce 920M), but that doesn't mean it's ready for intense gaming. It notched a score of 69,426 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, which is higher than the 55,948 category average. The Tecra C40 (52,972) and ThinkPad T460 (65,981) came closest to the Latitude 14's score with its integrated Intel HD Graphics 520, while the EliteBook 745's integrated Radeon R7 fared worse at 44,377.
The Latitude 14's six-cell battery could last your whole workday and the bus ride home. It endured for 10 hours and 35 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which continuously browses the internet over Wi-Fi.
MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life
That's longer than the category average of 8:02, as well as competing notebooks with smaller batteries, such as the Tecra C40 (6:49) and EliteBook 745 (5:54). Only the ThinkPad T460's six-cell battery (13:12) had more stamina.
The Latitude 14 gets a little hot during regular use. After streaming 15 minutes of video from Hulu, the bottom of the notebook reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 9 degrees higher than our 95-degree comfort threshold. The touchpad and center of the keyboard were more pleasant at 85 degrees and 90 degrees, respectively.
Software and Warranty
The Latitude 14 is mostly free of distracting bloatware, which is the way it should be on a business notebook. Candy Crush Soda Saga and Flipboard are present in the Start menu, but that's about it for the junk.
Dell's pretty light on its own additions to Windows, which includes Command Power Manager, which provides information about your battery usage, and Command Update, which helps you put the latest firmware and drivers on your system. If you need software for documents, presentations and spreadsheets, a one-month trial of Office 365 is available.
The laptop comes with a standard one-year warranty that can be extended to three years for $113. ProSupport with 24/7 phone assistance adds another $27, and ProSupport Plus with accidental damage protection increases the cost by $63. See how Dell fared in our Best and Worst Brand report and Tech Support Showdown.
Our $1,024 review configuration of the Latitude 14 3470 included a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce 920M GPU with 2GB of VRAM and a six-cell battery.
The base model sells for $449 with a 1.5-GHz Intel Celeron 3215U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB, 7,200-rpm HDD and a four-cell battery.
Dell offers a number of options with Core i3 and Core i5 processors, but they aren't customizable. That leaves you stuck with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. I would usually recommend cheaper options with Core i5, but in this case, I suggest a Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM and SSD (like the one we reviewed) if you have the cash.
The Dell Latitude 14's internal components provide solid performance, and I like that you can get more than 10 hours of juice from the six-cell battery. However, the stiff keyboard makes typing uncomfortable, and the display is dull and imprecise, so this is not a system I'd use for watching videos.
If you want even longer battery life and better typing experience, you should definitely consider the Lenovo ThinkPad T460. That laptop starts at $810 and has an option for a six-cell battery that lasted over 13 hours on our test. The Dell Latitude 14's endurance is admirable, but there are better options.