Dell Latitude E7240 – Get on your workhorse

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image001This was a pleasant surprise for Stuff, since we don’t get nearly enough Dell products into HQ to satisfy our lets-poke-it-and-see-how-it-does cravings. The Latitude E7240 is an all-business 12.5-inch notebook, nominally an ultrabook but we’ll get to that, that would nonetheless provide sterling service if you were just using it as an on-the-couch media consumption and social network update device.

The E7240 is very solidly constructed from tough plastic and metal edging and it looks and feels as though it could stand up to quite a beat. Not that we’d recommend beating your laptop, that’s just not nice. It’s fairly heavy for such a compact piece of computing hardware, weight and thickness combine to take this notebook out of the running for the ultrabook label in our opinion.

It is configured like one though, no matter how chunky it feels. The sample that we received from Dell featured a Core i5 4300U processor, running at 1.90GHz. 4GB of system memory and a 128GB solid state hard drive, along with the lack of an optical drive (where would you put it) completed the ultrabook credentials. Shame about the weight really but that factor doesn’t have an impact on the performance of the E7240, which can be briefly described as ‘pretty damned quick’. Apps and software load up without any lag, though the Intel graphics mean that you should limit the E7240’s use to business tasks.

The keyboard, fairly surprisingly for such a small form factor, is very comfortable under the fingertips though the keys themselves could stand to be more tactile. You might miss a dedicated numberpad but there’s nowhere to put it and it’s not a great loss in any circumstances. The trackpad is accurate, if a bit old-school, with left- and right-click buttons sitting at the very edge of the E7240’s workspace.

What impressed us the most is the Latitude’s touchscreen display, which is a clear, solidly constructed 1080p affair. Tapping your fingers on the screen feels like you’re operating a tablet that just happens to have a keyboard attached, we’re putting that down to the Gorilla Glass construction that the E7240 uses for the display. There are lower res models of this notebook available from Dell but we’d have a hard time going back to a WXGA screen for this model.

What else does the Latitude E7240 have going for it? Ports, mostly. There’s a connector on the underside of the machine for a docking station, since it’s designed for the workday, and the rest of the connectors and holes are arrayed along the right and rear edge of the notebook. USB 3.0 is the order of the day, with SD card support, HDMI out, ethernet (as if they’d forget it), Bluetooth and WiFi (up to 802.11 ac) all rounding out the connectivity option.

As long as you are using the E7240 for its intended purpose, that is, being a business machine, you’re going to get some very good mileage out of it. The specs would also stand it in good stead for general-purpose usage and we could do worse than sit in a waiting room watching movies on the HD display when not knocking out articles with the well-spaced keyboard. It’s not the sexiest machine you’ll ever encounter but looks don’t matter. Not when the job gets done.

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