Dell Latitude 7280 Review

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The Dell Latitude 7280 has all the trappings of a great business-focused laptop. The svelte durable design, powerful seventh generation Intel Core i7 CPU, excellent battery life, and an assortment of security features make it an ideal tool for road warriors that need productivity on the go.  

Unfortunately, in its quest to be the perfect business laptop the Latitude has let some of its other features lag behind. It’s a fantastic business notebook, but it’s not nearly as well rounded as some of the premium ultrabooks on the market.

The Dell Latitude 7280 certainly looks the part of a business-focused laptop with a simple clean aesthetic. The black magnesium alloy chassis is sleek, with straights line and slow moving angles that trail upwards towards the front of the chassis. Dell’s circular silver logo sits in the center of the display lid. The alloy finish has a nice cushioned feel to it, that makes the svelte 12-inch device easy to grip and hold on to.

But don’t let this sleek little black box fool you, it’s built to last. The Dell Latitude 7280 features impressive durability having passed 15 MIL-SPEC-180G testing. Which means the laptop is capable of surviving a drop from 30 inches, heavy blasts of dust, and can operate between both extreme high (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and low (20.2 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures.

Measuring 12 x 8.2 x 0.7-inches and weighing 2.8 pounds the Dell Latitude 7280 offers all this durability in a slim easy to travel with form factor. The Dell is Latitude sits comfortably among its competitors, as it’s slightly lighter than the Lenovo ThinkPad X260 (3.18 pounds) and heavier than the HP EliteBook 1030 G1 (2.6 pounds).

Dell Latitude 7280 Ports and Features

The Dell Latitude 7280 offers an impressive array of ports, making it an excellent choice for enterprise users that need to stay connected. The left side features a power connector, a USB Type-C (Thunderbolt) port, an HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port, and an optional smart-card reader. The right side houses security lock slot, an Ethernet connector, a second USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack.

In addition to the wide selection of ports, the Dell Latitude also comes equipped with a number of security features. For a $35 premium, you can add a smart card reader, a contactless smart, card, and a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor works well easily reading swipes consistently. The only downside is that the reader itself is compressed into the deck, which can make positioning your finger a bit awkward.

Our review unit of the Dell Latitude 7280 also features an optional ($21 premium) integrated infrared webcam. The 0.9MP (megapixel) webcam, doesn’t offer the sharpest picture. It’s certainly serviceable, but the lack of quality will be noticeable (to the more popular 2MP shooters on high-end devices) especially when in something like a Skype Call and VoIP. However, the IR camera does serve its purpose as a security device. The IR facial recognition is quick and consistent, providing users with a secure hands-free way of logging in via Windows Hello.

Dell Latitude 7280 Screen and Speakers

The Dell Latitude 7280 features a 12.5-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) panel. As you’d expect from a business-oriented laptop the screen offers excellent readability and clarity with a 289 nits brightness. The Latitude certainly isn’t a media-focused device, as color recreation is a bit muted. This was particularly noticeable while watching the Overwatch Orisa cinematic trailer the glossy whites greens and yellows of the robotic sentinel appeared a bit stunted. The panel is certainly decent enough to serve in a pinch, but you won’t get the same experience that you would from a more multi-media focused device.

The bright matte panel may not be excellent for color reproduction, but it does afford great visibility. Images hold up well past 100 degrees without any color loss or distortion. The screen also performs well in heavily lit areas. Direct lighting will cause a few reflections to appear on screen, but the laptop is still easily visible.

The speakers offer decent amplification, capable of filling a modest size room with audio. Audio quality was decent, but much like the display, it’s clear that this notebook is not intended for multimedia purposes. The good news is that voice communication was clear and easy to hear, however, the laptop struggles with highs creating noticeable distortion. Additionally, there’s a lack of bass, so you’re not going to get the tactile feel you want when listening to most music tracks. But much like the screen, it’s clear that Dell has a focus and it the notebook excels in the areas that it needs to.

Dell Latitude 7280 Keyboard and Touchpad

The Dell Latitude 7280 features a black glossy chiclet-style LED backlit keyboard. The rounded keys curve inward to create an easy to grip surface. Travel is decent for a laptop as slim as this and feedback is both forceful and consistent. You can expect to type quickly and efficiently with both great ease and comfort.

Located below the spacebar is a black hard rubber pad complete with two discrete black plastic mouse buttons. The touchpad performs well as swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures respond quickly and consistently. The two physical mouse buttons offer a great tactile “clicky” feel as they quickly snap back into place after being struck.

The Dell Latitude 7280 unit that NBR tested was outfitted with a 2.9GHz seventh generation Intel Core i7-7600U CPU, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of DDR4, and a 256GB SSD. This configuration was on the higher-end and is currently available for $1,620. The $1,029 entry-level unit is a bit more a affordable and still packs a punch with a seventh generation Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB, and a HD (1366 x 768 resolution) display. The lower resolution display is underwhelming especially at the thousand dollar price point, but the entry-level notebook still offers solid performance for the price.

As the impressive benchmark scores relay the Dell Latitude offers fast reliable performance perfect for word processing and productivity apps. The Dell Latitude 7280 is also great at multitasking, as we were able to run 12 active Chrome tabs while running an HD video stream and Spotify in the background without any drop in performance.

The 256GB SSD is noticeably faster than your traditional hard drive, but it’s certainly outpaced by higher end PCIe drives. Still programs and files load after only a few moments and it only takes a few seconds for the device to boot up.

The one area where the laptop lags a bit is in visuals. Equipped with integrated graphics the Latitude 7280 is capable of HD video editing and playing less demanding game titles. However, the machine will struggle with more demanding tasks like 4K video editing. However, as we’ve seen from both the display and audio the machine’s isn’t really focused on multimedia, so the weaker graphics performance isn’t too big a deal.

The Dell Latitude 7280 review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:

  • Windows 10
  • 12.5-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution
  • Intel Core i7-7600U CPU 2.9GHz
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • 8GB of DDR4
  • 256GB SSD
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Dimensions: 12 x 8.2 x 0.7 -inches
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Price: $1,620

Dell Latitude 7280 Benchmarks

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Dell Latitude 7280 Battery Life

To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.

 PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):

In our tests, the Dell Latitude 7280 lasted for 6 hours and 16 minutes. Lasting longer than 6 hours the Latitude provides excellent battery life perfect for road warriors. With our benchmark being a bit more strenuous than normal use, you can expect to get upwards of 9 hours on a single charge.

At the end of the day the Dell Latitude 7280 has a laser focus. It’s a business-oriented laptop and it meets or exceeds what you’d expect from such a laptop with excellent connectivity, a durable yet portable design, and strong performance. This laptop features well-placed and reliable inputs, and there are loads of premium security features for those who want them.

The only issue is that this notebook has some noticeable weak points … which become harder to justify at the machine’s arguably expensive $1,620 price point. While the screen has great visibility the muted colors are a bit disappointing. Such issues are far more forgivable with cheaper configurations.

Still, Dell has managed to hit a great balance between, power, portability, and security that is crucial in an enterprise-focused device. If you’re looking for something a bit more well rounded you may want to consider a consumer-focused premium ultrabook like the Dell XPS 13, but the Dell Latitude 7280 is a great option for users that care productivity, safety, and durability first and foremost.

Pros:

  • Fast performance
  • Durable portable design
  • Excellent battery life

Cons:

  • Colors appear muted on display
  • Expensive
  • Audio is lackluster

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