The Dell Latitude 7440 is a business Ultrabook that packs a lot of technology into its durable 3.9-pound frame. Starting at $999, our $1,849 14-inch Dell Latitude 7440 sports a fourth-generation Core i5-4300U processor, a full HD 1080p touch-screen display and a 256GB SSD for speedy performance. But is Dell's new Latitude the best business notebook you can get?
The Latitude 7440 sports a sleek and attractive all-black design. The notebook's lid is made of a sturdy soft-touch carbon fiber material that reminds us of the Kevlar back on Motorola Droid phones. This carbon fiber is backed by an aluminum frame and reinforced steel hinges.
Underneath the surface, Dell deployed its MIL-STD-810G-tested Tri-Metal chassis for extra durability. This means the E7440 should be able to withstand extreme temperatures and vibrations more than your average notebook. Specifically, MIL-STD-810G-tested notebooks can operate in temperatures ranging between 32 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and at altitudes between minus 50 and 10,000 feet. Both the $1,749 Lenovo ThinkPad T440s and $1,229 Toshiba Tecra Z40 are similarly certified.
The Latitude 7440's keyboard deck sports the same texture as its lid, which felt comfortable while typing. We love the subtle blue accents Dell added to the Latitude's keyboard. The baby blue color of the keys' Fn symbols matches the outer lining of the pointing stick, which adds a pleasant contrast to the otherwise black body. The E7440's display is capable of folding all the way back, enabling it to lie flat. This is a good position for giving presentations.
Measuring 12.2 x 8.3 x 0.79 inches and weighing 3.9 pounds, the Latitude 7440 has a smaller footprint than the slightly heavier Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (13.3 x 8.89 x 0.8 inches, 3.8 pounds with 3-cell battery). The Toshiba Tecra Z40 (13.3 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches) is a much lighter 3.2 pounds, while the Acer Travelmate P645 is taller and wider but lighter (12.9 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches, 3.5 pounds).
Click to EnlargeThe Latitude 7440's 14-inch 1920 x 1080 glossy touch screen produced vivid colors, but it's not the brightest in its class. When watching a trailer for "The Amazing Spiderman 2," we enjoyed bold orange explosions and we were impressed with the energetic red shade of Spiderman's suit.
The Latitude's display registered 238 lux on our light meter, beating the Toshiba Tecra Z40's matte display (169 lux) and the thin-and-light notebook category average (209 lux). The Dell also shined brighter than the Travelmate P645's 1920 x 1080 235 lux display. However, the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s' 14-inch 1920 x 1080 touch screen notched a higher 294 lux.
We found the touch screen to be responsive during everyday use. We had no issue selecting and moving tiles in Windows 8 and using pinch-to-zoom to enlarge images.
The Dell Latitude 7440's bottom-mounted speakers produce boisterous audio for a notebook of its size. When blasting "Royals" by Lorde, we felt the bass notes thump, and the snaps in the background sounded crisp against the singer's smooth vocals.
The 7440 also pumps out louder audio than your average notebook. At 88 decibels, the E7440 scored higher on the LAPTOP Audio Test than the Toshiba Tecra Z40 (79 dB), the Acer Travelmate P345 (83 dB), the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (81 dB) and the thin-and-light notebook category average (82 dB).
Click to EnlargeThere are many things we like about the Latitude 7440, but its keyboard isn't one of them. The traditional backlit keyboard felt somewhat flimsy while typing, exhibiting flex when we pushed down on the G and H keys. Key travel was fairly deep, but shallower than the Dell Latitude 6430u's island-style keyboard. We much prefer the ThinkPad T440s' comfortable keyboard with its stronger tactile feedback.
Using the Latitude 7440, we only managed 57 words per minute during the Ten Thumbs Typing Test with a 2 percent error rate. This is much lower than our personal average speed of about 75 words per minute.
Touchpad and Pointing Stick
Click to EnlargeOverall, the Latitude 7440's 3.5 x 1.8-inch touchpad was smooth. There was no latency when moving the cursor, and the touchpad was responsive to gestures such as two-finger scrolling and pinch-to-zoom. We enjoyed using the touchpad's dedicated click buttons, which provide solid feedback.
The pointing stick located in the center of the 7440's keyboard is a reliable alternative to the touchpad. The rubberized grip makes it easy to manipulate the cursor without having to take your fingers away from the keyboard. Dell also features a button in between the upper set of mouse keys that allow you to quickly navigate to the top of a Web page or document when pointing up with the pointing stick.
We easily highlighted text and scrolled around websites using the Dell's pointing stick, but the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s' AccuPoint pointing stick provided a more accurate experience.
Click to EnlargeBuilt for productivity, the Dell Latitude 7440 comes with all the ports you need. The laptop's right side houses an audio and microphone combination jack, a USB 3.0 port and a lock slot. The left side features a SmartCard reader and an SD Card slot. On the notebook's rear, you'll find a power jack, HDMI, two more USB 3.0 slots, a mini DisplayPort and Ethernet. Dell has also included a docking connector on the bottom of the notebook.
The Latitude 7440's side-mounted vents keep the notebook cool under pressure. After streaming video on Hulu for 15 minutes, the notebook's underside reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit, lower than the 95 degree threshold we consider to be uncomfortable. The touchpad registered 78 degrees, while the area between the G & H keys hit 86 degrees.
Our configuration of the Latitude 7440 supports WiGig technology for wirelessly connecting your laptop to compatible monitors and displays. The notebook is also compatible with the $269 Dell D500 Wireless Dock, which connects to a monitor, mouse and keyboard. However, we found this solution to be much less reliable than a wired dock based on our testing.
Click to EnlargeThe Dell Latitude 7440's 720p camera takes colorful yet grainy images. When we captured a self-portrait, our face looked blurry and pixelated. At least the red hair color shown in the image looked true.
Our configuration of the Dell Latitude 7440 features a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U processor with 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. This combination of components enabled the notebook to multitask with ease. With 10 apps open, including the camera app, Internet Explorer, Bing News and the Windows Store, we streamed an episode of "Family Guy" in one window while playing "Cut the Rope" in another and didn't notice any latency or hiccups.
The Latitude 7440 delivered mixed results in synthetic benchmark tests. The notebook scored 4,544 on PCMark 7, which is higher than the 3,493 thin-and-light category average and the Tecra Z40 (2,542, 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U with 8GB of RAM). Both the 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-4200U-powered ThinkPad T440s (4,970) and 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-4500U Acer TravelMate P645 (4,886) scored higher.
On the Geekbench 3 test, which measures multicore processor performance, the Latitude 7440 score of 5,259 fell short of the 5,939 thin-and-light category average. This is also lower than the Tecra Z40's score (5,326) and the TravelMate P645 score (5,945), but it still beats the T440s (5,151).
It only took 14 seconds for the Dell Latitude 7440 to load Windows 8 Pro, which is twice as fast as the 28-second thin-and-light category average. The Lenovo Thinkpad T440s booted Windows 8 Pro in the same amount of time.
The Dell transferred 4.97GB of mixed media files in 39 seconds, equaling a rate of 130.5 MBps. This is twice as fast as the average thin- and-light laptop (60 MBps) and much quicker than the Tecra Z40's 320GB 7,200-rpm hard drive (23 MBps). Other business Ultrabook SSDs are faster though, including the Acer TravelMate P645 (175.5 MBps) and ThinkPad T440s (188.5 MBps).
The Latitude 7440 matched 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses in OpenOffice in just 4 minutes and 46 seconds, faster than the 6:17 thin-and-light category average. This is also quicker than the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (5:14), but on a par with the Toshiba Tecra Z40 (4:45) and Acer TravelMate P645 (4:42).
Click to EnlargeThe Dell Latitude 7440's integrated HD 4400 graphics are suitable for light gaming and streaming video, but don't expect to play demanding games. The notebook scored 801 in the 3DMark11 benchmark. This is lower than the 968 thin-and-light laptop category average and both scores of the Tecra Z40 (869) and ThinkPad T44s (930). The Acer TravelMate P645 scored the highest with 1,783, but it benefits from a discrete ATI Radeon HD 8750M graphics chip.
When playing "World of Warcraft" at the laptop's native resolution on auto settings, the E7440 mustered an unplayable 23 frames per second. When bumping up the settings to ultra, that frame rate dropped to a barely playable 11 fps.
Click to EnlargeThe Dell Latitude 7440s doesn't have the staying power of other business Ultrabooks. During the LAPTOP Battery Test, which consists of continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 40 percent display brightness, the notebook's 4-cell 45 Whr battery lasted 5 hours and 52 minutes. That runtime is shorter than the 6:49 thin-and-light notebook category average, and also falls behind the ThinkPad T440s' standard battery (7:01) and the Toshiba Tecra Z40 (9:28). You'll have to pay $276 for Dell's 9-cell 97Whr battery slice to get extra battery life.
Dell offers a few security options with its Latitude 7000 Ultrabook line. The notebook comes with TPM support out of the box, but you can purchase additional security and encryption software at an extra cost. These include various versions of Computrace ranging from $26.60 to $104.29, DDPE encryption services that cost between $20.30 and $90.30 depending on your preference, and Dell SonicWALL solutions priced between $310.50 and $1,095. The Latitude 7000 line doesn't come with an option for a fingerprint or SmartCard reader at this time, although those features are likely to come in the future. Both the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s and Toshiba Tecra Z40 have offered biometric security configurations since launch.
Software and Warranty
Click to EnlargeThe Dell Latitude 7440 is mostly a blank slate out of the box, but Dell has included some of its own first-party tools. These include Dell Digital Delivery, Dell Power Manager and Dell Backup and Recovery. Dell Digital Delivery is the company's platform for purchasing software, while the Dell Power Manager provides information about your system's battery, including its condition and how much power is left.
This configuration of the Latitude 7440 comes with three years of basic hardware service and three years of limited onsite service after remote diagnosis. See how Dell fared in our Tech Support Showdown and Best & Worst Brands report.
Dell offers a few configuration options for the Latitude 7440. Our $1,849 review unit came with Windows 8 Pro, a 1.9-GHz Intel Core i5-4300U processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state drive and a 1920 x 1080 touch screen. This is the most expensive model in the 7000 series line listed on Dell's website.
The least expensive configuration starts at $999 and includes Windows 7 with a license for Windows 8, a 1.7-GHz Intel Core i3-4010U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 5,400-RPM hard drive, and a 1,366 x 768 anti-glare non-touch display. It also features a smaller 3-cell 34 Whr battery and 802.11n single-band Wi-Fi, as opposed to the most expensive configuration's 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy support.
Click to EnlargeThe Dell Latitude 7440 is a business Ultrabook that offers solid Haswell performance, a rich full HD touch screen and impressive audio in a design that's both attractive and tough. Frequent travelers and office workers will definitely benefit from Dell's Tri-Metal military-grade chassis, which is built to handle the bumps, bruises and extreme temperatures that come with being on the road.
However, the keyboard on this notebook didn't feel sturdy enough, and the below-average battery life disappoints. Overall, we prefer Lenovo ThinkPad T440s, which offers a better keyboard and pointing stick along with longer battery life. But if you're in a Dell shop or like what the brand brings to the table this Ultrabook is a good choice.