Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 review: A nearly perfect combination of power and battery life

18 hours of battery life inside a compact, 2-in-1 PC powered by a leading-edge Whiskey Lake CPU? Boom.

Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG

If you’ve been wondering about whether a long-life Qualcomm Snapdragon PC is for you, Dell would like a word. Dell’s new 14-inch Latitude 7400 2-in-1 achieves a simply incredible 18 hours of battery life using a powerful Intel 8th-gen Whiskey Lake processor. It also offers a full complement of ports and a slightly gimmicky feature called ExpressSign-in (yes, it’s really spelled that way).

As our review shows, Dell has designed a stylish business notebook optimized for life on the road. It’s also optimized for IT rather than personal budgets, as our review unit clocked in at a whopping $2,800. But if you want a business laptop with all-day battery life and performance, the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 delivers.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 primary alt Mark Hachman / IDG

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 basic specs

Other than a surprisingly subpar webcam, Dell’s Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is optimized for the road warrior: A compact form factor, 1080p display, and a massive battery mean you’ll be able to work for hours.

  • Display: 14-inch (1080p) touch
  • Processor: Intel 1.9GHz Core i7-8665U (Whiskey Lake)
  • Graphics: Intel UHD 620
  • Memory: 8GB-16GB LPDDR3 (16GB as tested)
  • Storage: 128GB-256GB NVMe PCIe SSD (256GB as tested)
  • Ports: Two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3, Power Delivery/DisplayPort); Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A; HDMI 1.4; microSD; optional microSIM WWAN
  • Camera: 720p HD Camera (user-facing); Windows Hello capable
  • Battery: 52Wh, 78Wh (78Wh as tested)
  • Wireless: Qualcomm QCA61 802.11ac (2x2); Bluetooth
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro
  • Dimensions: 12.59 x 7.87 x 0.59 inches
  • Weight: 3.30 pounds, 4.08 pounds with charger (measured)
  • Color: Aluminum
  • Options: Fingerprint sensor inside power button; contact smartcard reader
  • Price: $2,802 (Dell.com) as configured; starts at $2,379

A robust, yet chunky build

The Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 invades the long-battery-life territory defined by Lenovo and Qualcomm’s power-sipping Snapdragon through sheer brute force. Almost the entirety of our review unit was defined by its massive 78-watt-hour battery, more than twice the capacity of some competing laptops. That, and a power-sipping display, serves as the Intel ecosystem’s answer to what Qualcomm and its partners promise.

Dell touts the Latitude 7400 as the world’s most compact 14-inch commercial 2-in-1, and that’s probably accurate. What that means, however, is that the Latitude 7400 is decidedly chunky, with a few more millimeters of Z-height than a thin-and-light design. Dell uses this to its advantage, however, by including a full cadre of ports.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 tent Mark Hachman / IDG

As a 2-in-1, the Latitude 7400 flips easily into tent mode,

The Latitude 7400’s 3.3-pound heft, while not svelte, weighs less than expected. It’s also fair to say that the 78Wh battery option will allow you to leave the charger at home in most cases, which would otherwise bring the total travel weight to 4.08 pounds. 

Dell’s Latitude 7400 certainly doesn’t look like the stereotypical function-over-form business notebook. The silvery aluminum exterior offers a bit more style. More and more notebook vendors of this generation are trimming the bezels to streamline their products, and the 7400 is no exception: The side bezels are just 0.4mm thick, with a bit more space (0.6mm) allocated to the top bezel to accommodate the webcam. 

The Latitude 7400’s display also emphasizes battery life, with a conventional 1080p display that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5. Not only does the Latitude’s display use extremely low power, the amount of light it emits is limited: Dell rates it at 300 nits, though ours emitted a maximum of 284 nits. While that’s not enough to combat outdoor glare in the summer sun, we plopped the Latitude 7400 next to a well-lit window and tapped away without issue. We didn’t measure its color accuracy, but after comparing it to several other displays, it matched up well with a Microsoft Surface Book 2.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 washed out Mark Hachman / IDG

While the display in this shot isn’t fully illuminated, the screen didn’t give us any issues when working in illuminated spaces. Outdoors, however, colors quickly washed out.

All told, the combination of slim bezels and the compact 14-inch display mean that the chassis measures just 12.59 inches wide by 7.87 inches deep by up to 0.59 inches thick. We didn't try it on an airplane tray table, but it should fit just fine. That additional thickness also lends Dell’s Latitude 7400 2-in-1 absolute stability, with no detectable flex whatsoever.  

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 vents Mark Hachman / IDG

A well-vented laptop usually means a quiet laptop with little, if any, thermal throttling. The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 runs quietly, even without the fans manually throttled down, as part of its “Quiet” mode.

Dell put equal care into the Latitude’s aural ergonomics, too. Dell ships its Power Manager utility inside the Latitude 7400, with options for the default Optimized setting, plus “Cool,” “Quiet,” and “Ultra Performance.” I found the default Optimized setting rarely turned on the system fan even while running benchmarks. Enabling Performance Mode increases the clock speed and runs the fan more frequently, yet fan noise was exceptionally quiet and unobtrusive to the point that I had to cock an ear to even detect it in the IDG offices. In the quiet of a home office the dearth of fan noise allowed me to hear a slight, intermittent staticky buzz that louder PCs would have drowned out.  

Dell’s ExpressSign-in:  A convenient gimmick 

Dell touts the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 as “the only PC that senses your presence,” with a technology the company calls ExpressSign-in. If configured with Windows Hello, ExpressSign-in will lock your PC automatically when you walk away. But it will also detect you when you approach, then use Windows Hello to log you in.

The technology uses a sensor package to determine when there’s no one nearby, then automatically locks your PC. Windows already does something somewhat similar (if enabled via Windows settings): If you pair a phone via Bluetooth, Windows can lock you out automatically once your phone goes out of range. However, Bluetooth’s range can be long enough that Dynamic Lock doesn’t activate until you’re farther away.

ExpressSign-in isn’t that much better. It automatically turns off your PC within three minutes if it can’t detect anyone in range. (In testing, it took 1 minute, 3 seconds in an empty office.) If someone wanders by and triggers the sensors before then—poof! your PC is back on, unlocked. Manually locking your PC is more effective, though you can always forget.

ExpressSign-in’s complementary “wake on approach” technology is somewhat gimmicky: As you (or anyone else) nears, sensors detect your approach and ready Windows Hello for immediate login. (Otherwise, you’d have to tap the spacebar or power button, like a savage.) I love Windows Hello, but ExpressSign-in is the PC’s equivalent of waving your foot under an SUV’s bumper to raise the back hatch. Do you need it? Probably not, though it’s fun and convenient. 

You expect a good keyboard in a business laptop, but good sound? Keep reading to find out more.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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