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Dell Latitude E7250 5th Gen Ci7 08GB 512GB SSD 12.5"FHD Touch 1080p W8.


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Product Description

Design

The Latitude looks unassuming from a distance, but up close has a polished new look. Gone is the silver aluminum lid of the previous generation, replaced with a dark-colored carbon fiber variant that looks infinitely classier in our book. Both the lid and the palm rest area are silicon-coated for a luxurious feel that pulls double duty hiding fingerprints and smudges.

Dell Latitude 12 7000 carbon fiber

Underneath the exterior is a magnesium alloy shell which provides admirable strength to the system; we had a tough time inducing flex anywhere. The 12.2 by 8.3-inch chassis is just barely bendable side to side while the lid is one of the stiffest we've seen, which is noteworthy considering the Dell is just 0.76 inch thin. No ripples showed on the display panel when we applied pressure behind, a good indicator that the LCD is well protected.

This kind of strength is always important in a notebook, especially one as small as the E7250 since it's likely to be carried around nonstop—at just 2.76 pounds, who wouldn't? It's built to take the bumps and abuse of business travel.

In addition to the exterior design, Dell also updated the keyboard in both feel and layout. We readily admit it's hard to find a better keyboard, especially on a laptop this small. The island-style keys' spacing is a bit more cramped than a full-sized keyboard's, but it took us no time at all to get accustomed. The tactile feedback is very good with plenty of travel—a rarity in the ultrabook world—plus quiet key presses and a flex-free keyboard deck. There are no unusually undersized keys.

Dell Latitude 12 7000 keyboard

Two levels of white LED backlighting are available and can be activated by pressing the Fn and F10 keys together; it's bright enough to be visible indoors during the daytime. The keys have a slightly concave surface with a matte coating that hides fingerprints. Our only complaint is that, while there are dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys, the Home and End keys are secondary functions requiring the Fn key plus the left and right cursor arrows. That's something we can forgive on a notebook this small, however.

The spacious touch pad's smooth matte surface provides predictable tracking and has well-defined borders. The dedicated left and right buttons below the pad are large with good feedback and make hardly any noise when pressed. Pointing-stick diehards are out of luck as the Latitude isn't offered with one.

You might think the E7250's port selection is limited from looking at its sides, but this ultrabook stashes half of its ports along the back edge. The cooling vent and optional SmartCard reader are located on the left side, while an SD card slot, combo headphone and microphone jack, USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, and lock slot are located on the right. At the rear are gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, two more USB 3.0 ports, and the AC power jack. This is quite a respectable selection for an ultrabook.

Dell Latitude 12 7000 right ports
Dell Latitude 12 7000 rear ports

The Latitude 12 7000's single cooling fan draws air through perforations in the chassis bottom and through the keyboard deck. It generally stays off during easy tasks such as word processing and spreadsheeting, though it engages at a low speed for heavy Web browsing. The fan develops a whine at top speed which is audible in a relatively quiet room but is unlikely to be an annoyance to others. The chassis itself becomes lukewarm to hot both on its top and bottom around the cooling vent.

Features

The Dell is offered with two different 12.5-inch display panels, the standard 1,366x768 anti-glare screen or the upgraded 1,920x1,080 touch panel of our review unit. In addition to its touch capabilities, the latter screen also has a slick Corning Gorilla Glass surface which Dell advertises as anti-fingerprint, though we didn't find that to be the case in our testing. The glossy surface was, however, exceptionally easy to clean with a microfiber cloth.

Dell Latitude 12 7000 blue screen

The touch display has very good contrast and pleasing color without being oversaturated. Viewing angles are all but unlimited thanks to the panel's in-plane switching (IPS) technology, and the brightness (Dell rates it at 360 nits) is excellent, sufficient even for outdoor use though you'll want to watch for reflections off the glass surface. The E7250 arrived with Windows text scaling slightly increased, which we found necessary to keep; standard-sized fonts are just a bit too small to make out on a 12.5-inch display with this high resolution.

The HD Webcam mounted above the display has good quality, better than what we're used to seeing. Colors are reasonably well-balanced and there's minimal grain. This solution more than suffices for videoconferencing.

Stereo speakers project out of dedicated grilles below either side of the palm rest. While they get a little muffled if you're using the Latitude in your lap, their sound tops that of even some significantly larger notebooks—full and clear with an appreciable amount of bass and little distortion even up to 80 or 90 percent volume, more than enough to entertain several people sitting around a table. Who'd have thought a business ultrabook would include top-notch speakers?

Dell Latitude 12 7000 wireless dock

An intriguing feature of our E7250 test unit was its inclusion of Intel's new WiGig technology in the form of an upgrade from the standard dual-band 802.11ac to Intel's Tri-Band Wireless-AC 17265 card. WiGig provides high-bandwidth, short-range communication for wireless docking stations such as Dell's $270 Wireless Dock, bundled with our review system.

We found that the wireless dock had a range of about three feet and required a clear line of sight between the computer and dock to maintain a stable connection. The cubical dock certainly doesn't lack for ports; it packs VGA, mini DisplayPort, full-sized HDMI, an audio jack, five USB ports (two 2.0, three 3.0), and Ethernet. It has its own 65-watt AC adapter as well.

The Intel Wireless Dock Manager software, preloaded onto our E7250, made it a cinch to connect to the wireless dock: You plug in the dock's AC adapter, turn it on by pressing a button on its topside, and the software sees it a few seconds later. You can set the software to automatically connect to the dock when available. We had no trouble connecting a variety of devices and reconnecting when the notebook woke from sleep. On the minus side, $270 for the wireless dock is a lot of money considering that Dell's standard docking stations are $100 less with a similar array of ports. Is it worth an extra $100 to avoid physically docking the laptop? Your call.

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