The first thing you'll notice about the Dell Latitude 7390 is its matte touch-screen display, with its thin bezels and vivid colors. You'll also be impressed by its long battery life and fast performance. However, the Latitude ($1,199 to start, $1,899 as tested) is a mixed bag. The computer's keyboard and speakers both leave much to be desired, the rest of the design is feeling dramatically old, and the fans sometimes run for seemingly no reason at all. If you can accept these drawbacks, you'll be rewarded with a powerful, long-lasting business laptop. Competitors, however, offer much better design and usability for around the same price or less.
The entire Latitude lineup needs a serious makeover, and the 7390 is no exception. It's slightly more visually interesting than its sibling, the 7390 2-in-1, because of its carbon fiber, soft-touch lid. It adds a bit of texture to what's otherwise a black square with a silver Dell logo.
Lifting the lid reveals a 13.3-inch, 1080p display with a thin bezel, and the plasticky deck features an island-style keyboard and a fingerprint reader.
Our review model, which was provided by Dell, wobbled. Specifically, the left-hand side on the wrist rest and the right-hand side by the display acted like a seesaw, especially while typing. Dell confirmed that the one we received was a production model, just like what's out there for people to buy, but said that this is a rare occurrence. The company sent us a second model, which does not have the same issue.
It has a standard selection of ports for a business notebook. On the left side are a Thunderbolt 3 port, an HDMI output, a USB 3.0 port and a Smart Card reader. There's also a barrel-shaped power connector, which is a shame, since the 2-in-1 version of this notebook uses USB Type-C to charge.
At 2.9 pounds and 0.7 inches thick, it's both heavier and thicker than several of its competitors. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) is 2.5 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, the EliteBook x360 G2 is 2.8 pounds and 0.6 inches thick and the Dell XPS 13 is 2.7 pounds and 0.5 inches thick.
Security and Durability
Aside from our issue with a wobbling review unit, Dell claims the Latitude is quite durable. It's MIL-STD 810G tested against extreme temperatures, humidity, vibrations and shock, so it should be fine in a carry-on during a bumpy flight.
On the security front, you can log in to the computer with Windows Hello using either a fingerprint or with facial recognition, thanks to infrared cameras (I personally prefer the latter). The Intel Core i7 CPU includes support for vPro for remote management of the device by IT professionals.
The 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen on the Latitude is vivid, though some others are brighter. When I watched the trailer for Venom, I could see the faint red flush in Tom Hardy's cheeks, accentuatedby the blue light coming from New York storefronts reflected on him during a nighttime scene.
The Latitude covers 132 percent of the sRGB color gamut, easily surpassing the 108 percent premium-laptop average as well as the EliteBook (109 percent), the X1 Carbon (129 percent) and the XPS 13 (118 percent).
But at 286 nits it's not as bright as some competitors. It's better than the average (284 nits) and the EliteBook x360 (239 nits), but the X1 Carbon (293 nits) and the XPS 13 (an astounding 372 nits) are far more luminous.
I appreciate that Dell has switched to a matte touch screen, as I hate how glossy displays show reflections.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Dell's keyboard tired me out. With a shallow 1.3 millimeters of travel and 76 grams required to actuate, I often bottomed out and found myself shaking out my hands after typing because my fingers needed a rest. Even though they have a tactile, clicky feel, I hit the end of the switches too often to be comfortable. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 111 words per minute, which isn't unusual for me, but my error rate hit 3 percent, just over my usual 2 percent.
I wish the 3.9 x 2-inch touchpad was a little larger, but I managed to make it work. While I very occasionally hit the edges of the touchpad, it didn't interrupt my work. However, if Dell removed the two buttons and made the whole thing clickable, it could be larger and more comfortable. As it stands, it's responsive to all of the Windows 10 gestures that I tried, including two-finger scrolling and tapping four fingers to open the Action Center.
I use headphones at the office, and if I used the Latitude 7390, that couldn't change. Its speakers are abysmal. They're quiet, even when turned up to the max, and couldn't fill a small conference room.
When I listened to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," Freddie Mercury's voice came through clearly and I could hear the pianos (though they sounded a bit staticky), but the guitar and bass were almost nowhere to be found. With the included Waves MaxxAudio Pro app, I managed to tease out the drums and make the vocals better but couldn't salvage the rest of the track.
With an Intel Core i7-8650 CPU, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD and 8GB of RAM, the Latitude can handle multitasking with aplomb. It easily handled 25 tabs in Google Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p clip from Late Night with Conan O'Brien from YouTube.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the Latitude earned a score of 13,990, far past the premium-laptop average (9,460) as well as the EliteBook x360 G2 (8,873, 7th Gen Intel Core i7) and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Intel Core 13,173, Core i5-8250U). However, the Core i7-8650U-powered Dell XPS 13 did a little better (14,180).
It took the Latitude 16 seconds to copy 4.97GB of files, or 318.1 megabytes per second. That's faster than the average (266.4Mbps) as well as the EliteBook (299.5Mbps), but both the XPS 13 (339.2Mbps) and X1 Carbon (a blazing 565.4Mbps) were even quicker. On the Handbrake video-editing test, which transcodes a video from 4K to 1080p, the Latitude took 17 minutes, beating the average (22:11) and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (19:00), but not the XPS 13 (16:00).
When it came to our Excel Macro test, the Latitude paired 65,000 names and addresses in 1 minute and 7 seconds, faster than average (1:49) and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (1:11), and just a second behind the XPS 13 (1:06).
One of the Latitude's stronger attributes is its battery life. It lasted 10 hours and 23 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test 2.0, which browses locally hosted websites on repeat at 150 nits of brightness.
That's longer than the 8:23 premium-laptop average, as well as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (10:13). The XPS 13, however, lasts even longer at 11:59.
The built-in, 720p webcam is good enough for conference calls, even though its pictures are a bit off. In a photo I took in our well-lit office, there's a noticeable cool blue tint that makes the dark red stripes on my shirt looks slightly purple.
On the bright side, it was sharp enough to make out individual hairs on my head.
The Latitude gets a little hot under the collar. While it measured a cool 88 degrees Fahrenheit on the touchpad and 92 degrees between the G and H keys after streaming 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, it climbed to 99 degrees on the underside. That's higher than our 95-degree comfort threshold. Additionally, the fans on the Latitude 7390 go off all the time for seemingly no reason. I left the laptop on my desk with no programs running and a blank desktop, and they would make noise for minutes at a time.
Software and Warranty
I appreciate that Dell is conservative with the software it puts on its business notebooks. There are a few apps for updating and changing the power settings, but otherwise, it's all Windows. Unfortunately, you still get all of the pack-ins that come with evert Windows 10 PC, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Drawboard PDF, Spotify, March of Empires: War of Lords, Disney Magic Kingdom and Bubble Witch 3 Saga.
Our $1,899 review unit included an Intel Core i7-8650 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. The base model costs $1,199 with an older, last-gen Intel Core i7-7130 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD. It's hard to recommend a work laptop with those older specs. There are, however, a variety of Core i5 and Core i7 models with 128GB and 256GB of storage in between the base and the model we reviewed, though these are a bit expensive to be coming with just 128GB.
The Dell Latitude 7390 is a business laptop with long battery life, a vivid matte touch screen with thin bezels and speedy performance due to to Intel's 8th Gen Core i7 CPU. But its low- travel keyboard can tire your hands out, the speakers are shoddy and Dell desperately needs to redesign the chassis to make this computer look modern.
If you're dead-set on Dell, the XPS 13 is beautiful and costs less for a similar configuration. For $1,399, you'll get an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU (a slightly lesser processor, but 99 percent of people won't notice), 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. You will, however, need to buy adapters, because it uses only Thunderbolt 3 ports. For those who need a business notebook, look at the ThinkPad X1 Carbon with similar performance and battery life, a faster SSD, configurations with HDR screens and a best-in-class keyboard. It's also thinner and lighter. It does start on the more expensive end -- $1,789 for an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM, but it comes with a 512GB SSD by default, and, for the price, it looks like a premium product.
The Latitude falls short of those computers. The performance is good (at least, on our Core i7 model, though I'd be wary about the one with a seventh gen Core i3), and it lasts long on a charge, so its definitely worth consideration by your IT department. But the mediocre typing experience and fans that run often may make some business employees wish they had a more premium machine.
Credit: Shuan Lucas/Laptop Mag