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Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 review: A business-class convertible with good security features

sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel on
dell-latitude-7390-header.jpg
8.0/10

Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1

Excellent
$1,100 at Amazon
Pros
  • Copious security features
  • Good battery life
  • Ergonomic 360-degree screen rotation
  • High-quality screen
  • MicroSD card reader
  • Mobile broadband option
Cons
  • On the heavy side for its class
  • Build quality could be better
  • Slightly cramped keyboard
  • Expensive
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

This 13.3-inch 2-in-1 (rotating screen) laptop is designed to provide knowledge workers with a high-quality mobile computing experience, starting with an 8th generation Intel processor. Dell also emphasises mobile security, with options for fingerprint reader and both contacted and contactless smart card readers, as well as Intel vPro and Windows Hello.

The Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 is a premium laptop with a matching price tag: configurations on Dell's UK website range from £1,359 to £1,729 (ex. VAT).

The chassis is almost entirely black, broken only by the silver Dell logo in the centre of the lid. Even the hinges are black. Still, this somewhat bleak look is not unappealing.

dell-latitude-7390-main.jpg

The 13.3-inch Latitude 7390 2-in-1 runs on Intel's 8th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors. Mobile broadband is available as an option, and it weighs from 1.42kg.

Image: Dell

The rubberised finish on both the lid and underside make for a grippy laptop that's easy to pick out of a bag or case, and which should sit fairly securely among a bundle of papers in the crook of an arm.

There are two long strips of rubber on the underside that are ever so slightly raised from the rest of the chassis, which help to stop the laptop sliding around on a desk. That's very important when you're using the touchscreen, and there's another helpful design feature in this respect too. When you're prodding at the top of a laptop's touchscreen it's common for the whole thing to tip backwards. On the Latitude 7390, two tiny lugs near the hinges raise the base from a table top very slightly; when the screen is pushed backwards the base behind these lugs hits the surface and acts as a sort of backstop. You can push the laptop past this gentle anchor, but I found it was generally enough to stop a complete topple. It's a subtle and efficient feature.

Build quality is good, but not outstanding. I was able to flex the wrist rest and base and, although I had to apply a fair bit of pressure to do so, that's still a concern. The lid section is relatively thick by modern standards at 6mm, but this doesn't supply massive protection against flex. I've seen sturdier laptops.

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Nor is the Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 particularly light, with a starting weight of 1.42kg. Other 2-in-1s make a good job of edging towards the kilogram mark -- not least Dell's own XPS 13 2-in-1, which came in at 1.24kg about a year ago, and has recently seen a refresh and a reduced starting weight of 1.21kg.

Still, the edge-to-edge screen design means this laptop has a relatively small footprint at 305mm wide and 210mm deep. The thick screen gives it a fairly sizeable height, at 11.75-18.03mm.

Unfortunately, this relatively significant thickness has not been able to be used to good advantage in the provision of legacy ports. Anyone looking for the likes of VGA or Ethernet will need to use a docking station. What you do get is a pair of USB 3.1 ports, both with power share, an HDMI port and a pair of USB-C ports, both of which can be configured as Thunderbolt 3 and one of which is used to charge the laptop.

There's also a MicroSD card slot and an optional SIM card slot as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. Because this laptop has a 360-degree rotating screen, there's a power button and volume rocker on the right edge, and a sliver of white LED on the front edge that illuminates when the laptop is charging.

The speakers are on the front underside of the laptop. Oddly, they didn't seem to get muffled by a desk or by clothing when the laptop was sitting on my lap. Output goes quite loud, but audio quality isn't noteworthy.

The hinge mechanism for swivelling the screen is strong enough to hold the screen at any angle. Tent mode can often feel a little precarious, but this is where the thick lid comes into its own, helping to anchor the laptop nicely onto a table so it feels pretty stable.

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Tent mode (top) and tablet mode (bottom).

Images: Dell

The clear, sharp 1,920-by-1,080 pixel screen is perfectly usable at the 40 percent brightness level that's the default on battery power, and touch responsiveness is excellent. Dell says the screen is 'anti-reflective' and 'anti-smudge' Gorilla Glass 4. Well, the screen is reflective, but not as reflective as some and I didn't find it difficult to work with. It's pretty good at resisting fingerprints, although of course it will need a wipe from time to time.

The top and bottom long edge bezels are both reasonably slight at 15mm, while the left and right short edge bezels are just 4mm. This is great when working in laptop mode, but in tablet mode it does increase the possibility of accidentally tapping at the short screen edges. This could be particularly irritating when working in landscape mode.

It's a bit disconcerting that, like so many 360-degree rotating laptops, the keyboard does not lock out when in tablet mode. I always worry that holding a laptop in one or two hands in this mode might create undue pressure on the keys.

There is a two-level keyboard backlight that can be toggled with a Fn key. The keyboard has been neatly designed to fit into the relatively small area that's available on 13.3-inch laptops. Dell has found space for a full-size number row and a two-thirds-width, half-height Fn key row. The Enter key isn't double width, but it is double height. The arrow keys are wider than I'm used to seeing on keyboards that are strapped for space, which is welcome.

But for all that, the keyboard itself is not as rewarding as some to use. The keys seem slightly oversprung, and as a result typing isn't quite the tactile experience it should be. Things are also quite cramped, and even with my small hands I felt squeezed in. Reducing typing speed to about 80 percent of normal delivered error-free results, but speeding up was problematic. Over time I'd expect to get used to it, though.

The touchpad has physical buttons, and the whole arrangement is nicely responsive. No complaints there.

Dell has equipped the Latitude 7390 2-in-1 with an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U or i7-8650U processor with integrated UHD Graphics 620 GPU. There are five models available on Dell's UK website, all of which can be further configured. My review unit matched the specifications of the top-end £1,729 (ex. VAT) model, and ran on a Core i7-8650U processor. Its 256GB of SSD storage can be boosted to 512GB if required.

Battery life is very good. Dell does not make any claims for the three-cell 43Wh battery at its website, but my anecdotal testing suggests that all-day working is entirely feasible. For example, one four-hour session involving writing, web browsing, and some audio streaming drained a fully charged battery to 73 percent.

Conclusions

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Image: Dell

Dell's Latitude 7390 2-in-1 is an impressive 13.3-inch laptop. A high-quality, minimal-bezel screen with neat 360-degree rotation and impressive battery life all stand in its favour. There are plenty of configurable options for the security conscious, while mobile broadband is available as an option. It's nice to see MicroSD card support here, along with two USB 3 and two USB-C ports.

In the minus column there's the relatively heavy weight, the average build quality, and the rather cramped keyboard. This is an expensive laptop, too.

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