Dell Latitude 7400: Amazing Laptop, but Only in the Right Configuration

eWEEK NEW-PRODUCT ANALYSIS: The first critical option with this new laptop is the six-cell battery, which gives it true full-day battery life. Coupled with the also optional 90-watt power supply, it gives you impressive fast charging and allows you to leave your power supply at home.

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The Dell Latitude 7400 is Dell’s premium laptop for business and a technological showcase. But it comes in several configurations depending on needs. I’m writing this on the second 7400 I’ve received; the first one had a lot of features I didn’t need and traded off those unneeded features for battery life. I find that an unacceptable tradeoff. But with the right configuration, this laptop is amazing.

Let’s talk about the Dell 7400 and the configuration I think is the most useful.

Dell 7400

This is a 14-inch notebook that feels smaller than a typical 14-inch product for transport but has all of the apparent advantages that such a product typically enjoys. These advantages include more screen real estate, so you can more easily have both your source material and the document you are creating on the same screen; a larger keyboard, which is particularly useful for those of us with larger hands; a typically thinner design because the components can be spread out over a larger area; and the room for a larger battery than many typical 13.3-inch laptops have.

But the first critical option is the six-cell battery, which gives this laptop true full-day battery life. Coupled with the also optional 90-watt power supply, it gives you impressive fast charging, which allows you to leave your power supply at home or in your hotel room so you don’t have to lug both around; you may also be able to leave your backpack behind as well. With this last option, I recommend the optional sleeve, because it makes the laptop easier to carry without your backpack. I’ve come to enjoy not having the growing weight of my backpack on my back.

I’ve found the optional proximity sensor with Windows Hello IR camera particularly useful because I go to a lot of meetings and don’t want people looking at my stuff when I’ve left the room. Once synced with my smartphone, it does a reliable job of blanking my display when I leave and auto-logging me back in when I return. I get several phone calls during a typical day, which means I’m up and down a lot.

Another critical option for me is the Qualcomm dual-band wireless WAN adapter. I find I can’t always depend on WiFi, and many of the locations to where I travel are famous for rogue WiFi access points, which are set up to steal information or compromise hardware. With this capability, I can always be sure if I’m within the AT&T coverage area of getting a reliable and secure data connection, giving me peace of mind and assuring my productivity.

While the system can be configured with more, I found the 512GB NVMe storage solution coupled with 16GB of system memory to be more than adequate. I see no point in paying for storage I won’t use, and the speed of NVMe storage continues to impress me.

The processor I’m using is the Intel 8th generation vPro 4-core, which is plenty fast and has, short of gaming, handled everything I typically do on a laptop. Be aware I don’t do photo or video editing though, which typically would require a GPU, but I find those kinds of tasks are generally better on a desktop machine anyway.  

Wrapping Up

The Dell 7400 properly configured is one of the best notebooks I’ve ever had, but it points to the need to properly configure this product because with the four-cell battery and without the facial recognition, I would not be recommending or using this product. You get choices with almost every laptop in this class from every vendor; choosing the right configuration can make, as I found out, the difference between a product like this one that is a joy to use and one that is isn’t.

Rob Enderle is a principal at Enderle Group. He is a nationally recognized analyst and a longtime contributor to QuinStreet publications and Pund-IT.