The hybrid that might actually replace your laptop, if you can afford it
Now that 2018 is going to be another year without a new Surface Pro, Microsoft’s competitors are putting out new top-of-the-line 2-in-1s with the idea of making 2018 their year instead.
Enter the Dell Latitude 5290 laptop, a detachable device that the Texas manufacturer hopes will capture some of that suddenly up for grabs 2-in-1 territory.
Ideal for anyone who runs a small business or who works from home, the enterprise-focused Latitude 5290.
The Latitude follows the typical detachable 2-in-1 template: it has a deployable kickstand so the tablet portion can stand on its own, along with a magnetised type cover for easy tablet/laptop conversion, and an extra-large bezel and tactile rear panel so you can easily grip it.
That said, the Latitude 5290 does bring some welcome wrinkles to the 2-in-1 blueprint.
It has a nifty take on the tablet kickstand – the leg auto-deploys by holding the tablet at a 90-degree angle and pressing it into a flat surface.
Furthermore, the kickstand flexes a full 150-degrees, allowing for custom viewing angles and easy access to the micro-SIM and microSD card slots, which are cleverly, and discreetly, located around the back of the tablet.
The Latitude 5290 is also awash with ports and card slots.
Most notably it boasts a Noble Wedge lock, smart card reader, NFC and a pair of DisplayPort over USB-C connectors.
Thanks to this port twinning, you don’t have to choose between charging your Latitude and plugging in another device.
A magnet on the Latitude’s right side secures the Dell Active Pen to the tablet, although we recommend tethering the stylus the old- fashioned way; the magnet isn’t strong enough to stop the pen being stripped off by an errant knock, especially if you transport the Latitude loose in your bag.
Unfortunately, the Latitude 5290 also suffers from some of the same flaws inherent in all detachable devices.
Firstly, any non-flat surface gives it the fits; laps, beds, and so forth will send your Latitude toppling unless it stays perfectly still.
Detachable 2-in-1s aren’t balanced – or built with a firm enough base – for ‘anywhere’ use. Secondly, the screen is a fingerprint magnet, despite the presence of anti-smudge technology.
The Latitude’s claim to hardware fame is its eighth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, which helps it achieve excellent scores in our benchmark tests.
Less exciting is its 8GB of DDR3 memory – that’s only just enough to keep the Latitude from hiccuping during heavy, multi-tab, multi-program use.
Aside from its processor, the Latitude’s other hardware highlight is 256GB of PCIe NVMe storage.
That’s a solid amount of capacity and it’s a quiet and fast drive.
There are three cameras – 5MP, 8MP, and infrared – giving you the ability to video call the boss, snap pics of Mr. Yum Yums the tabby, and login via Windows Hello (though hopefully not all at the same time).
Last but not least, the
While other devices deliver more pixels, that doesn’t necessarily make them more impressive
Latitude boasts dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
With integrated graphics, the Latitude isn’t much of an eSports choice, but it’s not trying to court the gamer crowd anyway.
It’s a workhorse: the Latitude 5290 galloped through our benchmarks and – thanks to its PCIe NVME SSD – made an especially good showing on CrystalDiskMark and Atto’s drive performance tests.
The Latitude 5290 gets top marks for its vibrant display, too.
The screen’s sharp contrast and great viewing angles are real eye-savers, especially during marathon work sessions. And while other devices deliver more pixels, that doesn’t necessarily make them more impressive: higher resolutions are wasted on a 12-inch screen.
However, there are a few areas where the Latitude 5290 fails to make the grade.
Its battery only lasted a paltry two hours 49 minutes.
Even Dell is a little red-faced about this, since the company suggests investing in its Power Bank Plus to extend the Latitude’s longevity away from a power socket.
Of course, that adds more to the price tag of an already costly device.
The Latitude’s keyboard is not as dysfunctional as the battery, but its small keys and paddling-pool- shallow levels of travel make long typing sessions difficult, a no-no for a business-oriented laptop.
The touchpad and touchscreen, by contrast, are intuitive and precise.
The Latitude 5290’s obvious competitor is Microsoft’s Surface Pro.
It has a display with more pixels, and has more of a marketing budget than Dell’s new 2-in-1, but its older CPU (seventh-gen) and limited selection of ports and card slots make it less appealing.
Microsoft’s device is meant for the mass-market and its lower-end configurations are priced as such. However, note that you will need to buy to the Type Cover separately.
The Latitude 5290’s closest competitor could be HP’s Elite x2 1012 G2, which has similar specs, and is cheaper, although it lacks the 5290’s kickstand and eighth-gen Intel CPU.
At the Lenovo Miix 720 is another (relatively) cheap alternative to the Latitude 5290, but it has last year’s hardware (seventh – gen processor), a larger form factor, less options when it comes to ports and lacks both a fingerprint reader and a micro-SIM card slot.
Even as detachable 2-in-1s go, the Latitude 5290 isn’t cheap.
But Dell’s theory is that your business will pick up the tab because of this laptop’s great value. In terms of performance and professionalism – a chintzy device it most certainly isn’t – the Latitude delivers.
But is it comfortable to use?
The keyboard is shallow, and its coolest feature – the detachability of the tablet – makes it unwieldy to use on non-flat surfaces.
The Latitude 5290 isn’t uncomfortable to use, but it could be more lap-friendly.
Anyone should consider the Latitude 5290. Even if it doesn’t replace a traditional laptop, it’s ideal for life on the road.
Rugged, cool, and well-equipped, only the Latitude 5290’s limited battery life lets it down.
Rugged, cool, and well-equipped, only the Latitude 5290's limited battery life lets it down.
Best Dell Latitude 5290 prices ?
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- Dell Latitude 5290
- Processor 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-8350U
- Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
- RAM 8GB LPDDR3
- Display 12.3-Inch, 1,920×1,280 resolution WVA touchscreen
- Storage 256GB Toshiba PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Connectivity Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; NFC; 2x DisplayPort over USB Type-C; 1x USB 3.1; micro-SIM slot; 1x microSD slot, 1x smart card reader, 1x Noble Wedge lock slot; 1x headset/mlc combo Jack
- Camera 5MP front camera; 8MP rear camera, Infrared camera
- Weight 860g (tablet only); 1.2kg (tablet with travel keyboard)
- Size (with keyboard) 292x216x14.91 mm