Business laptops are clearly similar functionally to consumer devices, but they are also set apart in terms of key features and capabilities. In essence, commercial PC solutions like Dell’s venerable Latitude line are designed to address the needs of corporate users and to withstand the rigors of business usage. At the same time, since laptop technologies and the computing needs of companies and their employees are constantly changing, vendors must proactively evolve and enhance notebook solutions or risk being left behind.
Dell’s new Latitude 7440 laptop offers insights into how that process works.
Evolving by design
Before diving into the new Latitude 7440, let’s consider the points that vendors need to address to ensure that their new solutions stay relevant to businesses. In essence, business laptops are designed for practicality. They’re more durable, flexible, connectable, manageable, and secure than laptops that seldom travel farther from a user’s home than a classroom or coffee shop.
Why are those points important to commercial organizations?
- Durable – Many businesses have salespeople, field staff, and others who spend more time on the road than in the office. However, Covid-19 expanded the portion of employees working remotely by orders of magnitude. Many of those users’ laptops are constantly moved from room to room or place to place, so they need to survive regular jostling, bumps, and even accidental drops.
- Flexible – Laptops also need to be powerful enough to run demanding business applications and configurable enough to meet the needs of various employees and use cases.
- Connectable – Most companies require devices that can be connected to numerous peripheral devices and networks. As a result, laptops for businesses typically sport a larger variety and number of ports and offer advanced wireless options, such as Wi-Fi 6E and 5G.
- Manageable – Device management and maintenance are critical issues for any business, but supporting out-of-the-office workers can be painfully complex and expensive. Remote management and maintenance solutions are effective antidotes for this problem, as are flexible lifecycle programs and services.
- Secure – It is hard to emphasize the critical importance of effective security solutions and services for modern organizations. For one thing, businesses are constantly being targeted by cybercriminals and other crooks. For another, unsecure laptops and other business devices can provide crooks a gateway to corporate networks.
Overall, businesses would do well to consider these points when evaluating new laptops and other PC solutions.
Dell’s Latitude 7440 Laptop
Note: For the purposes of this review, Dell provided a Latitude 7440 evaluation unit with a 13th gen Intel Core i7-1365U vPro processor, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB SSD drive, FHD+ 1920 X 1200 touch display, and Windows 11 Pro.
As background, I’ve used Dell Latitudes for over a decade, so I’ve witnessed firsthand the continuing evolution of the line due to two main factors. First, like other PC vendors, Dell is quick to adopt and to adapt to updated technologies and products from its component and software partners, including Intel and Microsoft.
More importantly, the company actively incorporates advancements from its other product lines into Latitude and other laptop solutions, particularly those in its flagship XPS family. Sometimes, those result in more transformational or leading-edge products, like the Latitude 9440 2-in-1 released earlier this year. That offering marked a significant departure from previous Latitude solutions with XPS features, including a Zero lattice keyboard, Haptic Collaboration Touchpad, and only USB-C ports.
The Latitude 7440 follows a more traditional path with a keyboard similar to previous Latitude 7000 models, a 24% larger trackpad, and ports, including two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports (one with Power Share), two USB Type C Thunderbolt 4 ports and an HDMI 2.0. In daily use, the Latitude 7440 is a comfortable and effective work solution. The trackpad is glass smooth and highly responsive, and I also liked the new keyboard design with battery-saving Mini-LED backlight technology.
System and application performance were fully adequate for the business and day-to-day applications I need. The Latitude 7440’s fan is also significantly quieter than prior generation Latitudes, making barely a whisper during common tasks like keyboarding, web browsing, Zoom calls, and watching YouTube and other streaming services. Though battery capacity is slightly lower than the prior gen Latitude 7420, users performing common business tasks and applications should expect 12+ hours of battery.
So, how does Dell’s Latitude 7440 fare in the five design points noted earlier? So far as durability is concerned, you might consider the 7440 as a workhorse with thoroughbred bloodlines. Though notably light (due in part to its aluminum chassis), the 7440 offers the same feel of robust yet elegantly functional solidity as other Latitude solutions.
The 7440 is also highly flexible in terms of features. The incorporation of stock USB-A with Power Share, USB-C Lightening, and HDMI ports should satisfy the peripheral needs of any business user. Dell also offers a wide range of memory, storage, and other options, enabling buyers to configure systems for their specific needs. Though Dell eliminated the stock Smart Card reader, it is still available as an option on some models.
Dell realizes that connectivity is also a prime concern for customers. So along with Wifi 6E and Bluetooth support, the Latitude 7440 offers 4G and 5G wireless broadband options. Dell also provides customers with flexible options for supporting and managing systems. The Latitude 7440 comes with a three-year upgradeable warranty, as well as optional ProSupport services. Plus, businesses can purchase multiple systems through Dell APEX Managed Device Service.
Finally, the Latitude 7440 includes built-in security features such as a fingerprint reader, Dell SafeBIOS, Dell SafeID, TPM chip, and lock slot, and has passed MIL-STD 810H tests. Security options include ExpressSign-in, which detects your presence to lock your system when you walk away and wake it on your return. Dell Optimizer helps keep sensitive data private with onlooker detection, which texturizes your screen when others are present, and Look Away Detect, which recognizes when your focus is elsewhere and dims the display.
Overall, the new Dell Latitude 7440’s mix of classic features, practical innovations, and attention to businesses’ requirements should satisfy the needs of many or most employers, employees, and commercial use cases.
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