Thanks to their fold-up designs, detachable 2-in-1s are a portable way to get work done on the road. Dell's Latitude 5290 2-in-1 ($899 to start; $1,770.40 as tested) is the company's latest attempt at making a Microsoft Surface-style machine for business, and it features all the security features you need, as well as long battery life and a bright display. But when you look at that price, note that you'll probably want to pay more for extra storage.
From afar, the Latitude 5290 2-in-1 looks like most other Surface clones. That is, it's a tablet with a kickstand and a detachable keyboard. This one is black with the company logo in gray and a fingerprint reader on the right side. The front is where you'll find a 12.3-inch, 1920 x 1280 display surrounded by a bezel.
The coolest part is the kickstand, which auto-deploys. If you stand the tablet up on the desk and press it down, the kickstand shoots out, and you're in business. If you need to adjust it, you just push on the tablet.
The keyboard connects with a magnet. The whole type cover is made of a synthetic material that feels like cheap leather.
The Latitude 5290 is 2 pounds on its own (2.8 pounds with the keyboard) and 11.5 x 8.2 x 0.4 inches (it grows to 8.5 inches with the cover on). For comparison, Microsoft's Surface Pro is 1.7 pounds (2.4 pounds with the Type Cover) and 11.4 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, which is a bend-back 2-in-1, is 3.1 pounds and 13.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches.
Like most detachables, the Latitude doesn't have a wealth of ports, but it has the essentials. On the left side of the machine are the headphone jack, a USB 3.0 port and a pair of USB Type-C ports with DisplayPort functionality. The right side is where you'll find a smart card reader and a Noble lock slot. If you're wondering what peripherals you might need for the Latitude 5290 2-in-1, check out our page with the five best Latitude accessories.
Security and Durability
Dell claims that the Latitude 5290 has passed a number of MIL-STD-810G durability tests, including for vibrations, extreme temperatures and air transport. While it passed most of the tests, the results Dell showed Laptop Mag suggest that in one 30-inch drop test, a battery alignment pin broke and the volume-down button locked in.
MORE: What is vPro?
Users can log in with either the rear-mounted fingerprint reader or facial recognition using Windows Hello. There's also an optional smart card reader for token-based logins. Our review unit included vPro for remote management, though that's not the case with all configurations.
The 12-inch, 1920 x 1280 display has a 3:2 aspect ratio, and I think that taller display will be great for anyone who works on the web or in spreadsheets and needs more vertical space. It also happens to be incredibly bright and quite vivid. When I watched the trailer for Deadpool 2, I didn't need to turn the screen anywhere near its maximum brightness to be able to see, and Shatterstar's dark-red hair stood out against his white suit.
The panel on the Latitude 5290 covers 125 percent of the sRGB color gamut, surpassing the premium-laptop average of 113 percent. However, both the Microsoft Surface Pro (140 percent) and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (201 percent) were even more vivid.
But the Latitude was the brightest of the bunch, measuring a whopping 542 nits and easily beating the category average (301 nits), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (477 nits) and the Surface Pro (396 nits).
Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus
The keys on the keyboard cover offer just 1.1 millimeters of travel and require 62 grams of force to press. (We look for 1.5 mm of travel and 60 grams of force.) They're slightly bouncy, but not uncomfortable. I reached 107 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is the lower bound of my usual range, with a 4 percent error rate, which is twice my usual 2-percent error rate.
The 3.9 x 2.1-inch touchpad has a plasticky feel that gives it an air of belonging in the bargain bin. Still, it's responsive to Windows 10 gestures, like swiping three fingers up to show all open apps, two-finger scrolling and pinch to zoom.
The $60 Dell Active Pen sticks to the right side of the tablet with magnets. It has 2,048 degrees of pressure sensitivity. While I had no issues with palm rejection, I did wish that the pen had a bit more weight and were a teeny bit shorter. Additionally, its middle buttons are comprised of a single rocker, and I wish the two switches were separated. There's no software on board for the pen, but you can make some customizations to the buttons in Windows 10's settings.
The speakers on the Latitude 5290 aren't good. When I listened to Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling," it crackled, especially at high volumes that filled a tiny personal office. I had the same issue with other songs, like Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love." In both songs, guitars and vocals were clear, and on the former song, I was even able to slightly drag out the bass using a knob on the preinstalled Waves MaxxAudio Pro, though it didn't thump the way I like.
The Latitude 5290 is ready for business, with an Intel Core i5-8350U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVME SSD. I had 25 tabs open in Google Chrome, including one streaming a 1080p clip from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and I didn't encounter any performance issues.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the Latitude achieved a score of 11,949, beating the premium-laptop average (10,090) and the Microsoft Surface Pro (8,652, Intel Core i7-7660U) but not the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (14,517, Intel Core i7-8650U). However, we tested the ThinkPad with a more powerful Core i7 CPU, so a more expensive Latitude might match the ThinkPad's score. The Surface Pro still uses last year's 7th Gen Core CPUs.
It took the Latitude 13 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of files, or 391.5 MBps. Only the ThinkPad X1 Yoga was faster (508.9 MBps), while the Surface Pro (339 MBps) and the average (283.2 MBps) were slower.
The Latitude 5290 finished our Excel spreadsheet test (pairing 65,000 names and addresses) in 1 minute and 27 seconds, coming ahead of the 1:39 average but behind the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1:10). Dell's 2-in-1 took 26 minutes and 48 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p in HandBrake, falling behind the average (22:05) and the ThinkPad (18:38).
With its integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics, the Latitude ran Dirt 3 at 68 frames per second. That's higher than both the average (66 fps) and the frame rate from the ThinkPad X1 Yoga (64 fps), but the Latitude still won't run more intense titles like Far Cry 5.
You can expect your new tablet to last a full workday. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test 2.0 -- which continuously browses the web, watches video and runs graphics benchmarks (all at 150 nits of brightness) -- the Latitude 5290 lasted 9 hours and 7 minutes. That's the exact same time as the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. The premium-laptop average is a lesser 8:43.
In our testing, the Latitude 5290 stayed fairly cool. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video from YouTube, the back of the 2-in-1 reached 87.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is comfortably under our 95-degree threshold. In practice, though, the fans went on often, and loudly, to keep this temperature.
The 2560 x 1440p webcam on the Latitude 5290 is excellent for a laptop, and I wouldn't be embarrassed to jump on an important conference call with it. It's sharp, and it caught every hair on my head and in my beard, as well as my dimple, and the red of my shirt was accurate. The light behind me wasn't blown out as badly as it was on some other webcams.
The rear 3200 x 1800 shooter isn't as good with color; a photo I took of my desk toys made my Captain America Funko Pop's blue costume appear far brighter and deeper than it looks in real life.
Software and Warranty
Dell is mercifully light on its preinstalled software. Beyond Waves MaxxAudio Pro, the only major app is Dell SupportAssist, which lets you contact customer support, run system scans and check warranty status.
Of course, the Latitude 5290 does have the same bloat as other Windows 10 machines, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Dolby Access, Disney Magic Kingdoms, and March of Empires: War of Lords.
How Much Does a Latitude 5290 2-in-1 Cost?
The Latitude 5290 2-in-1 we reviewed -- which has an Intel Core i5-8350U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVME SSD -- costs $1,770.40.
The base model -- which includes last year's Intel Core i3-7130U processor, 4GB of storage and an M.2. SATA 128GB SSD -- is $899. The cheapest option with an 8th Gen Core CPU costs $1,299 and includes a Core i5-8250U, 8GB of RAM and the same 128GB SSD.
The most expensive version you can get costs $1,789 and includes a Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD (but it's customizable, so you can add more storage as in our review model).
The Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is a solid Surface clone for business, with long battery life and a cool auto-deploying kickstand. I just wish it came with more storage by default and had better speakers.
Even with the cool stand, though, it's not as artfully designed as the Microsoft Surface Pro. And if you want the latest processor, you'll need to wait for that one to be refreshed. If you prefer a convertible 2-in-1 to a detachable, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is the way to go. Its battery life is the same, and while its screen isn't as bright, it shows off more color.
But if you need a portable tablet with a keyboard and lots of security features for business, the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is a good choice.
Credit: Laptop Mag